Passion, drive and a bit of frustration with the United States’ fiscal situation drove Miami University seniors Jeff Feiwell and Stephen Hostelley to launch Project Green Room (PGR), a non-profit organization to inspire students to take a stance on issues pertaining to the U.S.’ economic future.
Feiwell and Hostelley said they were disappointed by the apathy prevalent among the current generation toward the nation’s financial policies.
“What we saw in the last election was that most college students didn’t have an opinion on the fiscal issues, didn’t understand them and really didn’t care about them,” Feiwell said.
Frustrated by the lack of engagement from their peers, Hostelley and Feiwell searched for an organization that effectively promoted awareness of economic issues to college students. When they did not find one, the pair had an idea.
“Why not us?” Feiwell said.
And the seed for Project Green Room was planted.
Hostelley and Feiwell said they spent every day of their winter break last year researching, developing and writing a 15-page business plan to lay the foundation for PGR.
They called on the assistance of fellow Miami senior, Lot Kwarteng. The three met participating in Miami’s Inside Washington Program their sophomore year and have spent time together in Washington, D.C. and in Oxford, working on bringing PGR to life.
According to Hostelley, the goal of PGR is to simplify the debt and deficit problems and make them relatable to students.
“There really aren’t any organizations that are willing to break down these issues into layman’s terms for college students and do it in a way that is engaging and fun,” Hostelley said.
According to Feiwell, PGR is a grassroots organization, by students and for students. The group plans to host Happy Hour events at local bars and use social media initiatives to draw the attention of a younger crowd to the fiscal issues this generation faces.
“Our generation, as the primary stakeholder, needs to be engaged,” Kwarteng said.
All three said they agree that it is time for government spending to change. The national debt is over $17 trillion and counting, according to USDebtClock.org. To reach a sustainable solution, compromises must be made by Democrats and Republicans, Hostelley said.
That is why, according to Feiwell, PGR is a nonpartisan organization. The government’s spending affects every American, regardless of political ideology, and it will take concessions from both sides of the political spectrum to create a long-term solution, Feiwell said.
The organization takes no stance on social issues, Hostelley said, but focuses on tax reforms, defense spending and social program spending as the main drivers of debt.
PGR is in its start-up phase, but has already received interest from colleges including Butler University and Ohio State University about starting a chapter on their campuses.
The phone calls, texts and emails from students interested in PGR give Kwarteng hope for the organization.
“We’ve been validated,” Kwarteng said. “Kids actually care about this.”
The most important thing right now is name recognition, according to Kwarteng.
The founders of PGR have created a promotional video as part of a crowd-funding campaign with a goal of raising $25,000 and awareness for the organization, Feiwell said.
Recently, Kwarteng and Feiwell took a trip to the capital to speak at “The Can Kicks Back” rally with Senators Timothy Kaine, D-Va, and John Thune, R-S.D., according to Kwarteng. Through the experience, they made connections with congressmen, lobbyists and journalists, among them several Miami graduates, who offered interest and support.
“Reception [of PGR] has been spectacular,” Feiwell said.
The name “Project Green Room” is a play on the term for the room where performers wait before their turn on stage, Feiwell said. The group’s tagline, “It’s your turn to take the stage,” reinforces the idea that now is the time for college students to step out of the waiting room and make their voices heard.
“It’s our generation’s turn to take the stage,” Feiwell said. “These issues are going to affect us and no one else, so it’s up to us an no one else to fix them or we only have ourselves to blame.”