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It’s Up-to -Us at Middlesex Community College

April 11, 2018 Brittany Brown Sheri Denk

Middlesex Community College (MCC) partnered with Up-to-Us, a national program building awareness and generating action about America’s fiscal future. The MCC team competed to create national debt campus programs.  With support from Principles of Economics faculty and the Civic and Service-Learning Office, the team participated in webinars on the national debt, promotion and event management. In February, the MCC team attended campaign preparation training in Oakland, CA to produce their campus events in March. The top 20 teams will head to Washington DC in late May to meet with Senators.  Please enjoy the final report summary by MCC’s Up-to-Us Team Leader Brittany Brown and team members Amber Namery, Andrea Patino, Dan Krinsky, Juan Breton, Xynone Cabal.

“The morning rush of students through the MCC Student Center met with an enormous six foot projection of the National Debt clock.  As the numbers flew by, students stopped to stare.  Their interest gave us an opportunity to explain the numbers and the mission of Up-to-Us.  Student attitudes ranged from confusion, to shock, and finally to understanding.   The area overflowed with students engaging in animated discussion, pulling friends in for their reactions and taking selfies. Our first kickoff event was a stunning success! 

In the weeks following, the MCC Up-to-Us Team hosted two more events.  Choosing strategic campus locations, we captured attention with prizes, raffles, succinct talking points while challenging students to guess the debt’s growth!  We shook up student routine and acted unexpectedly.  We brought the pledge and candy to everyone in the cafeteria, stood on chairs in the lounge, and offered every student in the library candy and an opportunity to add their voice to our movement. 

We wanted to grab interest, but also establish credibility and prepare students for the upcoming campus campaign.  As a 100% commuter school, students arrive, head to class, and leave for home and work.  It is difficult to assure event participation.  Our plan was to be  outspoken, engaging, and relatable.  We wanted students to understand the critical importance of the national debt and give them a reason to care.   So our team used every ounce of energy and resources available to present current, impactful information.

Our kick-off activities introduced our campaign. Our goal was to present a massive carnival challenging the actual scale, impact, and repercussions of national debt in an eye-catching, exciting way. We aggressively promoted with posters, student newscaster alerts, and social media posts. Our social media following ignited.  Incentivizing follow-backs and posts gained us the traction to engage our target audience.  We gave 23 classroom presentations inviting students to join the fun.  Partnering clubs and organizations fully supported our initiative and showed up in droves.

Balloons, popcorn, games, raffles, a caricature artist, you name it, we had it!  Music was turned way up, and so was the team energy.  Whether it was national debt trivia, two truths and a lie, fishing for facts, or a custom-built 20.6 Trillion High-Striker all informed students. The hype and fun drew students to review the information and engage in conversations.  We set up a giant Connect Four board where students played while talking about the national debt.

Students, including SUGA members, staff and faculty wanted to know our secrets! Getting pledges and educating is fantastic, but we wanted to inspire action.  Our Wildcard Event featured focus student groups to fully engage about national debt.  We hosted screenings of I.O.U.S.A, offered free pizza, and discussed impacts and possible solutions. The fiscal sustainability of our nation requires us all to stand together and voice what we know is right.  My hope is that the engagement doesn’t end.  Lasting change will come with the commitment and engagement of us, the millennial generation.  And we must fight for our futures and the future of our country.

On a local level, I joined hundreds of college students at the Massachusetts Statehouse Public Higher Education Advocacy Day advocating with legislators regarding student debt and its consequences on. Students and their families. Up-to-Us provided much needed information for meaningful interactions with local and state representatives.”

In early-April 2018, the MCC Team placed in the top 10  in the national  Up to Us  competition. 

For more information:

Learn more about Up To Us here