High School Fed Challenge

The High School Fed Challenge offers the opportunity for students to develop skills in teamwork, research, data literacy, and analytical writing. Student teams author economics research papers and pursue recognition in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Journal of Future Economists.

What is the High School Fed Challenge?

The High School Fed Challenge is an educational program that aims to encourage students in grades 9 – 12 to learn more about economics and promote interest in economics as a subject for study and the basis for a career. Previous study of economics is not required – only intellectual curiosity and interest in exploring an economic theme.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York designates the annual competition theme. Entering teams may select any topic that explicitly relates to this theme for an academic research paper, which will be submitted for evaluation to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Top team papers will be selected by Bank judges to be published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the Journal of Future Economists. In addition to gaining broader exposure to the field of economics, all entering teams will receive a certificate of achievement and recognition in the Journal of Future Economists.

High schools in the Federal Reserve's Second District are eligible to compete.

What You Need to Know

The High School Fed Challenge academic paper competition encourages students to work as a team to develop and enhance their skills in critical thinking, creativity, writing, time management, and conducting rigorous research. This experience will prepare students for academic success at the collegiate level and help students build analytical and communications skills for use in their future careers.

Everything you need to know about the program and rules for participation:

Rule Book
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To compete, teams of three to eight students write an academic paper (between 1,500 – 2,500 words) on a topic that explicitly relates to the annual competition’s economic theme, selected by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Each eligible high school may register one team and each registered team can submit one paper for the year’s competition. Eligible high schools must be located in the Second Federal Reserve District, which includes New York State; Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties in New Jersey; Fairfield County in Connecticut; Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Each student team must have one to two adult advisors. At least one advisor must be designated by the principal of the competing school and neither advisor may be an employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Top teams’ papers will be selected by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to be published in its Journal of Future Economists based on a holistic evaluation that will include, but may not be limited to:

  • Academic quality. Each paper will be evaluated according to the rubric included in this rule book.
  • Geographic diversity. Selection for publication will consider representation of the various communities within the Federal Reserve’s Second District.
  • Relevance and variety of paper topics submitted.

The 2020-2021 Competition Theme is "Economic Inequality"

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to participate fully in our society and in our economy.” —Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

What Is Economic Inequality? Economic analysis often focuses on understanding the average effects of a given policy or program. While such analysis is important to gauge how the economy is doing, understanding how outcomes vary across geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic boundaries is key to grasping both the whole picture and the implications of any given policy.

Economic Inequality Theme Resource Center. The New York Fed conducts research to better understand what contributes to economic inequality in its many forms and we have provided an online collection of different resources available from the Bank and other sources. We invite High School Fed Challenge teams to submit academic papers on any topic that relates explicitly to this theme. Visit the Theme Resource Center.

How to Get Started

A team consists of three to eight students who attend the same high school, advised by one to two adult advisors. A team can be formed in a number of ways:

  • As part of an extracurricular activity. The team is made up of student volunteers and one to two faculty advisors who work on the Fed Challenge as a club or enrichment program.
  • As the result of a class- or school-based competition. The class is divided into teams. Each team researches and writes an academic paper that is evaluated by the rest of the class or school faculty; the team with the best paper goes on to represent the school. Alternatively, team selection can be extended to all the classes in a school by choosing either a best-of-school paper or a team of the school's most accomplished authors.
  • By teacher selection. A teacher assembles a team on the basis of overall performance, an in-class assignment, or expressed interest in the subject of economics.
  • By student interest. Three to eight interested students may wish to participate and can request that their school principal designate an advisor for the team. Please ensure that the school principal officially acknowledges the team as the school’s High School Fed Challenge team and that an adult advisor is designated by the principal to manage team activities and communication with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Teams without official sponsorship from their school may not participate.
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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will provide an online collection of different resources available from the Bank and other sources to help students research the annual competition theme and select a topic for their paper. Students are not restricted to using the resources made available by the Bank, and may use other reputable or scholarly sources for their research. However, the paper topic selected must relate explicitly to the annual competition theme.

What is the difference between the competition theme and the paper topic?

The annual competition theme is designated by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It will always relate to economics and have relevance in the field. Competing teams will write academic papers on topics that explicitly relate to the same annual theme. However, paper topics can vary, will be tend to be more specific, and will differ across teams.

For example, if the designated theme were “Birthdays,” teams could decide to research and write academic papers on a variety of topics such as:

  • Surprise! Types and social implications of birthday celebrations in the United States from 1910 – 1950
  • Differences in the flavors of birthday cakes bought or made: A case comparison of New York City and Buffalo, NY
  • Are you more likely to be named Dion in December in Denville? The relationship between name selection and birthday dates for newborns in New Jersey
  • The global distribution of birthdays and impact on population growth rates

Note that the only requirement is that paper topics relate explicitly to the theme. A paper topic may be local, state, national, or global in scope. Sources and exhibits may provide quantitative or qualitative evidence to support the paper’s thesis (argument or perspective on the topic).


How to Register

Faculty advisors must register their teams online, on or before February 15, 2021.

Register Now
  • One team from each school is allowed to enter.
  • All correspondence and communication regarding participation in the High School Fed Challenge will be done electronically through the New York Fed's website or email. It is the responsibility of faculty advisors and student participants to read and understand the competition rule book as posted on the website, check the website for notices and other materials, read all email messages carefully, and be aware of competition rules and deadlines. There will be no exceptions to this policy.

Faculty advisors will be asked to:

  • Fill out all information about the team in the online registration system.
  • Send a completed principal endorsement form via email to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Education team at nyeconed@ny.frb.org. This endorsement is required for team participation and will be available in September 2020.

Note: Advisors may not be current employees of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the High School Fed Challenge changing?

From 1995 - 2020, the High School Fed Challenge was conducted as a competition in which teams play the role of monetary policymakers by analyzing economic conditions and making a policy recommendation. To participate, teams traveled to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan for preliminary, and (if they advanced) semifinal, and/or final competition rounds to present their analysis to Bank employee judges. Teams that advanced to the final round were typically awarded as first place, second place, or finalist teams.

The updated format of the High School Fed Challenge will be an academic paper competition. To compete, school teams will submit a paper on a topic that will address the economic theme that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York designates for the year’s competition. Top teams’ papers will be selected for publication by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its Journal of Future Economists. All of the participating teams and schools will be listed and recognized within the Journal.

Read more FAQs

Why is the program changing?

A primary goal of the updated program is to enable high schools from every part of the Federal Reserve’s Second District to participate, especially from where travel to New York City is prohibitive.

Additionally, the High School Fed Challenge strives to promote interest in economics as a subject for study among high school students who may or may not have had previous coursework in the subject. The updated format will be open to students and faculty advisors from multiple disciplines, such as Social Studies, History, Language Arts, and Government, as well as Economics, to further explore timely topics and academic research in economics.

What will remain the same in High School Fed Challenge?

The High School Fed Challenge will continue to promote teamwork by encouraging students to work together as researchers and co-authors on an academic paper. Academic breakthroughs often require different perspectives and contributions from multiple scholars and the High School Fed Challenge will continue to foster intellectual collaboration.

Each school may submit one paper, authored by its designated team. If a school that previously participated in High School Fed Challenge has a traditional in-school competition to select its team, it can continue to follow a similar internal selection process, or create a new one. Existing High School Fed Challenge clubs can also continue to work together on the school team’s paper submission.

Is the format of the High School Fed Challenge changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or related school and office closures?

No. The goals of the updated program are to enhance access to the High School Fed Challenge and the Fed’s educational resources, and to promote interest in economics as a subject for study among high school students who may or may not have had previous coursework in economics.

Who can participate in High School Fed Challenge?

Any high school in the Federal Reserve’s Second District (which includes New York State; Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties in New Jersey; Fairfield County in Connecticut; Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) may select a team of 3 - 8 students enrolled in grades 9 - 12, along with 1 - 2 faculty advisors, to research, write, and submit an academic paper on the selected theme.

How can my school register to compete in High School Fed Challenge?

To register for High School Fed Challenge, a faculty advisor from the school must complete an online registration form, on or before February 15, 2021. To complete registration, the advisor must also submit a completed Principal Acknowledgement form (signed by the principal), which confirms that the faculty member is the school’s appointed faculty advisor for its High School Fed Challenge team.

Does my school need to register? Why can’t we just submit a paper without registering?

Teams must register for the competition before submitting their academic paper for evaluation. We would like to know of your school’s intention to submit a paper so that we can better communicate with faculty advisors if there are any questions along the way. Timely registration will also help us to better manage the evaluation process.

What if my school registers and then the team decides not to compete? Or doesn’t finish the paper?

If registered teams decide not to submit a paper, we would appreciate a notification in writing to nyeconed@ny.frb.org. However, if registered teams simply do not submit a paper on or before the March 15 deadline, they will not be eligible to compete.

When can my school register to compete? When will the theme be announced?

Registration will open in September 2020 and teams must register on or before February 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. The theme for the 2020 – 2021 academic competition will be announced in September 2020, when online registration for the competition is available.

What are the rules of the High School Fed Challenge?

The High School Fed Challenge rule book is available online.

How does a team “win” the High School Fed Challenge?

In contrast to the previous competition format, the updated High School Fed Challenge will not designate only one winning team. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York competition judges will evaluate submissions and select the top teams’ papers to be published by the Bank in its Journal of Future Economists.

When is the deadline for papers to be submitted for the High School Fed Challenge?

To be considered for publication in the Journal of Future Economists, school teams must submit their final paper on or before Monday, March 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. via email to nyeconed@ny.frb.org. Papers must be submitted on or before the deadline. Exceptions will not be made for late submissions.

How will the Federal Reserve Bank of New York evaluate the academic papers that are submitted?

The selection process for papers published in the Journal of Future Economists will be based on a holistic evaluation that will consider academic quality, geographic representation of the various communities within the Federal Reserve’s Second District, and the relevance and variety of paper topics submitted. The evaluation committee will be comprised of Federal Reserve Bank of New York employees. More information on the evaluation process can be found in the rubric listed in the rule book.

How many papers will be selected for publication in Journal of Future Economists?

The holistic evaluation process will review each submission carefully. We anticipate that the committee will select as many top team papers to be published as possible.

How will we be notified if our school team’s paper is selected for publication in the Journal of Future Economists?

The faculty advisors for all school teams that submit a paper on or before Monday, March 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. via email to nyeconed@ny.frb.org will receive a selection notification by email, on or before Thursday, April 15, 2021. The notification will indicate whether or not the paper has been selected for publication. 

What if our school team’s paper is not selected for publication in the Journal of Future Economists?

All school teams that submit a paper on or before Monday, March 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. via email to nyeconed@ny.frb.org will be acknowledged as competition participants in the Journal of Future Economists. A selection notification will be sent via email on or before Thursday, April 15, 2021, which will indicate whether the paper has been selected for publication. 

What if our school team’s paper is not selected for publication and I disagree with the evaluation?

Decisions regarding the evaluation and selection of papers will be final. We understand that some teams will be disappointed. There is a subjective element in all types of evaluations. Decisions will not be made lightly, but they will be final. We kindly ask that faculty, students, parents, and Bank personnel conduct themselves professionally, respectfully, and with integrity during all communications and interactions associated with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York High School Fed Challenge.

Who is publishing the Journal of Future Economists? How can I get a copy?

The Journal of Future Economists will be published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It will be available in digital and print form. We anticipate that it will be made available at no cost and at least one print copy will be provided to each participating school, as well as each individual member of the published teams. We will share more information on availability as soon as possible.

When will the Journal of Future Economists be available? How often will it be published?

The Journal will be finalized and available during the summer. It will be published annually and will recognize the top teams in High School Fed Challenge each year.

Important Dates
Event
Date
Theme Announcement & Registration Begins
September 2020
Registration Deadline
February 15, 2021
Paper Submission Deadline
March 15, 2021
Notification of Publication Decision
April 15, 2021
The High School Fed Challenge, Reimagined
Select Student Papers Will Be Published
The Journal of Future Economists will be published annually to showcase student participation in the High School Fed Challenge.
Related External Content
Meet the Winners: 2020
Contacts

 

Disclaimer

Except where expressly indicated, none of these materials necessarily represent the views of the New York Fed or any other part of the Federal Reserve System.