The Challenge

2018 iOme Challenge Question


The 115th U.S. Congress has invited a Team of millennials to become members of a Special Bipartisan Task Force to address the nation’s growing retirement crisis. Planning and achieving a financially secure retirement is a challenge for many Americans and the millennial generation is no exception.

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 40% of millennial workers in the private sector are not offered a retirement savings plan at work, and only half of those who have access to a plan choose to contribute to a 401k-type retirement savings plan when offered one.

However, 60% of millennials who have access to and are saving in their workplace plan, also take the money out of the plan for reasons other than emergencies when they make job changes, resulting in lost savings and tax penalties.

Further, many millennials are employed in the gig economy. The Government Accountability Office estimates that those “nontraditional” workers are two-thirds less likely to have access to a retirement savings plan, either because the employer does not offer a plan or because they have been classified as “independent contractors” who are not eligible to participate in the employer’s plan. It is estimated that less than 10 percent of those without access to an employer plan contribute to a plan on their own.

Question and Instructions for Members of the Special Bipartisan Task Force

Congress has invited a Team of millennials to join the Special Bipartisan Task Force to address the nation’s growing retirement crisis. A special emphasis will be placed on increasing retirement savings opportunities for millennials at the workplace and independently.
You are tasked with developing a comprehensive policy proposal that will address the challenges previously mentioned and result in more millennials saving for retirement. The policy proposal may include, but is not be limited to:

  1. Ideas to expand the number of employers that offer plans to traditional and nontraditional workers;
  2. Ideas to encourage gig economy workers to participate in retirement savings;
  3. Ideas to encourage more employees to participate in the plans offered to them;
  4. Ways tax or other government policy can be used to increase savings; and
  5. How to use online resources and social media to facilitate awareness and increase savings.

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.

Video Guidelines

  • Create a short video that can be used to help market and sell this policy proposal.
  • Video should be 60-90 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.
  • The message should be clear even if the viewer has not read the essay.

Interested in Taking the Challenge?

First step is to Register your team online.

The deadline for submitting both the essay and video is May 1, 2018 at 11:59pm EST.

You can submit both your essay and video online.  Click on “The Challenge” tab on the iOme website for submission instructions and forms.

Winners will be announced by May 15, 2018

The winning team will share a $5,000 prize, with an additional $1,500 paid to the team’s faculty advisor.

Winners will present their winning essay at a forum in Washington, DC on June 20, 2018.  Please make sure team members will be available to travel to and participate in the Washington DC forum. A travel stipend will be provided to cover some of the cost, but please note that it may not cover all travel expenses depending on the size of the team.

If you have any questions, contact the iOme Challenge at