THE FOUNDATION FOR INNOVATION AND CREATIVE SOLUTIONS
FICS America is the culmination of over seven years of dedicated public policy work started by a group of students at the University of California.
In the spring of 2011, affairs at the University of California were worse than they had ever been in its 100+ year history. Massive state funding cuts had led to unprecedented tuition increases, placing an increasing burden on students already hit hard by the Great Recession. Lines for dwindling financial aid wrapped around buildings. Students were pepper-sprayed while protesting. When administrators and lawmakers alike had no ideas for solving the crisis, we decided that the massive tuition and funding crisis that our university faced could be solved by the students, for the students.
We spent nine months in our workshop—the offices of UC Riverside’s student newspaper The Highlander—chiseling away at an entirely new funding model that would permanently fix the University of California. The result was the Fix UC Student Investment Proposal, a landmark plan that would expand access and affordability to all UC students, while providing the institution with the funding it so badly needed in an era of growing budget cuts.
What happened next took even this idealistic group of undergrads by surprise: America listened. National press was captivated by our work, and everyone from university leadership to lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington wanted to speak with us about finally solving the problems of higher education. Colleges from across the country asked us for their own versions of Fix UC plan. No matter whether the school was big or small, public or private, a diverse array of colleges found benefits in the Fix UC model. It was then that we realized the problems facing the UC were shared by colleges everywhere, and the concepts we pioneered with Fix UC could make a real difference beyond just California.
Over the next several years, we developed what would become College 2.0—the ultimate realization of a student-centric, financially-viable future for higher education. And the Foundation for Innovation and Creative Solutions (FICS America) is the vehicle we built on our pursuit of truly innovative policy answers to the biggest issues facing students today. We still share that same fire that inspired Fix UC and we use it to fuel new out-of-the-box solutions, from College 2.0 to the challenges we'll take on next.
We're a team of public policy engineers—the craftsmen, carpenters, architects, designers, artists and planners of a better America. With the Constitution and America's legacy of global leadership as our guides, we develop permanent fixes to our greatest policy challenges.
Our comprehensive, long-term policy proposals, which we call Blueprints, break down the details of our innovative solutions, including how they can be implemented immediately.
Evidence and empirical data guide everything we do. Each Blueprint we release comes with a suite of research reports that both stand alone as new knowledge available to the public as well as inform our policy solutions.
From schoolchildren to seniors, we engage with the community at every level to both inform our work and spread it. And with its roots as a student organization at the University of California, FICS America is committed to empowering college students to make a difference.
FICS is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization unlike any other. In the spirit of Silicon Valley, we thrive on using innovation to solve our most pressing policy issues.
Support our mission
FICS America is a small, Southern California-based team dedicated to creating an innovative, long-term solution to the problems facing students and their colleges today. Our work is funded by the generous donations of those who believe in our mission and want to see real positive change. If you would like to contribute to FICS America, please visit the Donate page.
Founder & Executive Director
Christopher began his public policy work in 2011 while serving as the editor-in-chief of the Highlander newspaper at the University of California, Riverside. It was there that he founded Fix UC and wrote the Fix UC Student Investment Proposal, a plan that redesigned the University of California's funding model. After graduating in 2014, Christopher founded the Foundation for Innovation and Creative Solutions (FICS America) with the goal of continuing Fix UC's work to solve the student debt crisis on the national level. He is the executive director of FICS America and the author of College 2.0.
Kate Robinson Leviton
Director of Data Analysis
Kate is a graduate of UC Riverside with a B.A. in Economics/Law and Society and a Minor in Education. Improving education, on both small and large scales, has been a passion of hers for many years, and she has collaborated with students, teachers, principals, and professors on various projects to accomplish this purpose. In the spring of 2014, Kate interned in the Executive Office of the California Department of Education, which gave her an inside look at how all the moving pieces involved work together to maintain the K12 education system in California. Kate believes in providing children with equal opportunity and access to the highest quality education possible, and she is committed to doing her part to achieve that goal.
Director of Technology
Jonathan is Director of Technology at FICS America and is based in Los Angeles, California. He earned his Bachelors of Science degree in Sociology from the University of California, Riverside and is currently pursuing dental school.
Fascinated with equality, human-rights, and sociological research, Jonathan has worked on various projects and initiatives tackling health-disparities, rising college tuition, and emancipated foster youth. When not working, he spends his time with friends, family, and his two dogs.
Director of Outreach
Carrie Meng is the Director of Outreach at FICS America. Driven by connecting people with innovative and transformative ideas in a changing global economy, she believes in providing accessible and affordable education for individuals of all backgrounds. Carrie majored in English and East Asian Studies at the University of California, Riverside and has held marketing and business development roles across different organizations. She enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking (eating) in her spare time.