2020-2021 Winning Team
Heather Quach and Victor Li of University of Maryland Baltimore County
Heather and Victor’s essay, Improving Retirement: The Role of Education and Innovation, was chosen by the blue-ribbon panel of judges to receive the national award.
This winning essay, grounded in behavioral research, lays out a commonsense plan to improve financial education and promote greater personal savings. The paper explores the lack of mandatory financial literacy training and suggests solutions for the potential gaps in teaching capacity. The paper also takes a novel look at the health expenses in retirement calling it the fourth pillar of retirement security.
Heather Quach of Glen Burnie, Maryland is a student at UMBC, majoring in Financial Economics with a minor in Environmental Science. She volunteers at VITA, helping low-income people file their taxes and is also active in the astronomy club.
Victor Li of Rockville, Maryland is a student at UMBC with a double major in Financial Economics and Computer Science. He is a member of the Investment Club and the Software and Design Club. In the summer of 2021, he worked as a Budget Analyst at NIAID in the NIH. In his free time Victor enjoys reading, playing guitar or going for a run.
The faculty advisor for the submission was Professor Douglas J. Lamdin, Department of Economics, UMBC.
2020-2021 Runner Up
Brennan Dwyer, University of New Hampshire
The essay Bipartisan Proposal for Retirement Social Security and Retirement Contributions Plan aims to bridge partisan divides and provide practical solutions to shortcomings in Social Security financing personal savings and financial literacy.
Brennan Dwyer is an undergraduate student at UNH, majoring in Analytical Economics. He has been active in the Innovation Society and the Socratic Society at UNH.
The faculty advisor for the submission was Professor Joseph Dwyer, UNH.
Read the essay and the Press Release.
David Nipper of Folsom Lake College
David’s paper, Reform for the Modern American Retirement System, was chosen by the blue-ribbon panel of judges to receive the 2020 iOme Challenge award. This winning essay outlines a plan to shore up Social Security, increase personal savings and expand financial literacy and advice to workers needing it the most. Read David Nipper’s essay and the Press Release announcing the winner.
The iOme Challenge winning team for 2019 is from Michigan Technological University. The students—Zach Rosenbaum, Cole Peppin, and John Ruf—were selected for their essay The Basic Proposal: Retirement Policy for a New Generation. The team also created a short video. The faculty advisor for the team is Emanuel Xavier-Oliveira, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics, School of Business & Economics at Michigan Tech. As the winner of the Challenge, the team received a $5,000 prize and presented their essay at a forum in Washington, DC on June 19, 2019.
The 2018 iOme Challenge winner is Evan Avila, a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His faculty advisor was Professor Douglas J. Lamdin, Department of Economics, UMBC.
2017-2018 iOme Challenge Question: 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 challenges 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 that 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.
The winning team of the 2016-2017 Challenge is a first-ever collaborative effort across schools. Team members include: Yankang (Bennie) Chen, Columbia University; Jiayu (Kamessi) Zhao, Columbia University; Siheng (Asa) Li, Amherst College; and Qiufeng (Joseph) Zhang, Duke University. The team’s faculty advisor is Prof. Jonathan E. Vogel, Columbia University.
This year, teams were asked to imagine the newly elected president has named your iOme Team as members of the Task Force for the Financial Security of Millennials (TFFSM). The President believes that Millennials face some unique financial challenges. And that addressing the financial concerns of Millennials will have substantial economic impact for the future of the Millennial Generation. Two of the major financial challenges that face Millennials are substantial college debt and the lack of saving for retirement. These two challenges are naturally linked to one another. Paying off large college indebtedness means those funds cannot be set aside for retirement. Teams were asked to develop a policy proposal that will solve or ease the burden of college debt for Millennials. If the college debt burden is eased, what incentives can be developed to ensure that the money saved can be channeled into savings for retirement? The policy proposal links these two financial challenges and provides solutions for both.
The winner of the 2016 Challenge is a team from Michigan Technological University. Undergraduate student Jerrid Burdue wrote an insightful essay focused on federal government proposals related to education requirements, the myRA program, Social Security taxes and the Saver’s Credit. Professor Emanuel Oliveira served as Jerrid’s faculty advisor.
This year, we asked teams to imagine their selection by the President-Elect to serve as the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). The President-Elect informs the CEA of the great concern over the future challenges of the U.S. private retirement system. The CEA was asked to reimagine the private retirement system to accommodate the needs of workers in traditional work arrangements as well as the changes in the work-life patterns of the Millennial generations so they can be confident of a financially secure retirement. The President-Elect’s charge was to prepare a policy proposal that would be introduced in Congress in January, 2017. The President-Elect also asked the CEA to create a video that could be used to help market and sell the policy proposal.