The Annual Challenge

YOU ARE INVITED to participate in the 7th Annual iOme Challenge. A top prize of $5,000 will be awarded to the winning student team and $1,500 to that team's faculty advisor. The winning team will also be invited to Washington D.C. to present their essay at the WISER Forum set for the end of June. Students may have an opportunity to meet with the Assistant Secretary of Labor, various Members of Congress and other policymakers, including representatives from the Departments of Labor, Education, and Treasury.

The 2016 iOme Challenge consists of two parts: an essay and a video that illustrates the key elements of the essay. We encourage students to form teams with individuals some of whom have policy expertise and some others with video production skills. Team members can come from different educational institutions. Each team of students must have a faculty advisor, and the faculty advisors are encouraged to use this contest as a part of their class curriculum.

The 2016 Presidential election has ended; you and your iOme Team have been selected by the President-Elect to serve as the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). One of the responsibilities of the CEA is “… to make and furnish such studies, reports thereon, and recommendations with respect to matters of Federal economic policy and legislation as the President may request."

( The President-elect informs you of the great concern over the future challenges of the U.S. private retirement system.

The retirement system in the U.S. is undergoing significant changes. In the past, financial support for many workers in their retirement years was based on employers providing benefits to employees and their families to supplement Social Security’s retirement, disability and survivor benefits. The work-life patterns of the Millennial generation, however, are evolving. Millennials may work for as many as ten different employers during their career. In addition, some Millennials are working as freelancers and may not be tied to a single employer for a significant portion of their careers. These changes, combined with increasing life spans, point to significant concerns for the Millennial generation as they look to prepare for their retirement years.

How can the private retirement system be re-imagined to accommodate the needs of those in traditional work arrangements as well as the changes in the work-life patterns of the Millennial generation so they can be confident of a financially secure retirement?

The President’s charge to you is to prepare a policy proposal that will be introduced in Congress in January, 2017.

The President also wants the CEA to create a video that can be used to help market and sell this policy proposal.

Essay Guidelines

  • Not more than 10,000 words;
  • Must be grounded and documented in scientific economic and behavioral research;
  • Must demonstrate a reasonable probability of success;
  • Must give consideration to the political viability of such a policy;
  • Must include a complete bibliography of sources;
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Video Guidelines

  • Produce a short video (60 seconds or less in length);
  • The Video should illustrate the key thesis of the Essay in a compelling and creative manner;
  • The Video should be crafted as a visual representation of the key elements of the Essay;
  • You might think about the Essay as the screenplay and the Video as the movie;

Due Dates

  • Essay Due Date: April 30, 2016 11:59 PM CT
  • Video Due: May 10, 2016 11:59 PM CT


Entries will be judged on specific criteria for the Essay and the Video. One winner will be selected as well as those entries that are judged to be Honorable Mentions.

The winning team will also be invited to Washington D.C. to present their Essay and Video to Members of Congress, policy-makers and others who are interested in this policy issue.

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