Why You Should Consider The High School Fed Challenge 

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students participating in the program through available online courses.

Why You Should Consider The High School Fed Challenge

The High School Fed Challenge provides students a platform to improve their teamwork, research, data literacy, and analytical writing skills. Teams produce economics research papers, aiming for recognition in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Journal of Future Economists.

In this blog, we discuss comprehensively what this challenge is about and how it works. We also introduce you to key concepts about the competition to help you excel in it and why you should consider this competition.

What is the High School Fed Challenge?

The High School Fed Challenge, organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is a team-based competition that aims to develop a deeper understanding of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy, and global economic trends. Working with your team, you’ll analyze economic data and suggest monetary policy strategies. The challenge will help develop your teamwork, research, data analysis, and writing skills, while also sparking interest in economics as a subject and possible future career.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York comes up with an annual competition theme, allowing teams to choose any topic connected to this theme for their academic research. All submissions are reviewed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and selected papers are published in the Journal of Future Economists. Every participating team will receive recognition in the journal while gaining valuable insights into economics.

The official theme of the 2023-2024 edition is Economics of Work.

Work and employment greatly influence households, communities, and national economies. The nature of work is always evolving, raising questions about workforce characteristics, mobility, and adaptability. In addition, different viewpoints on work can shape policies and outcomes.

John C. Williams, the President and Chief Executive Office of the Federal Reserve, explains that “we have a dual mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. These goals are intrinsically linked—price stability is essential to sustaining maximum employment over the long term and for the economy to reach its full potential.” 

a group of student working together

To better understand these trends, the New York Fed has done researches on work and employment. They too have created an online resource collection from the Federal Reserve System and other sources to further the impact of their research. They also provide a high school lesson plan to help educators prepare students for this year’s theme. Teams are encouraged to submit academically researched written reports on topics clearly tied to the competition theme.

Who is eligible to join the High School Fed Challenge?

The eligibility requirements for the challenge include:

  1. Participants must be in grades 9-12 at the time of registration.
  2. Participants must be enrolled in a high school within the Second Federal Reserve District:
    1. State of New York
    2. Middlesex, Hunterdon, Passaic, Bergen, Sussex, Morris, Essex, Union, Hudson, Monmouth, Warren, and Somerset Counties in New Jersey.
    3. Fairfield County in Connecticut
    4. The U.S. Virgin Islands
    5. Puerto Rico
  3. Each eligible high school can register a single team for the competition, and each registered team is allowed to submit one entry per year.

How to Join the High School Fed Challenge

The registration for the 2023-2024 edition has already concluded. Nonetheless, here’s a detailed guide on what to consider to join the competition:

  1. All communication about registering, submitting, and participating in the High School Fed Challenge will happen through the New York Fed’s website or email. Both faculty advisors and students should carefully review the competition rule book on the website, regularly check for updates, and read all emails to follow the rules and deadlines.
  2. To participate in the competition, school teams need to submit a podcast script on the economic theme chosen for that year’s contest.
    1. Each script should contain 1,500 to 2,500 words (3 to 5 pages single-spaced or 6 to 10 pages double-spaced), excluding citations.
    2. Pages should be 8.5 x 11″ A4, portrait, with 1-inch margins on all sides.
    3. Use a 12-point font, and ensure pages are numbered consecutively.
    4. Entries can be submitted in either English or Spanish
  3. Faculty advisors are expected to:
    1. Complete the team’s information using the online registration system.
    2. Email a signed principal acknowledgment form to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Education team at [email protected]. This endorsement is mandatory for team participation.
  4. The Federal Reserve Bank sets the economic theme for the competition, and each team’s submission must align with that theme for the year.
  5. Only written submissions will be accepted—podcast recordings or other formats aren’t allowed.
  6. Teams must include academic research, whether primary or secondary, qualitative or quantitative. Advisors and their student teams can choose the topic and content, but it must clearly connect to the theme.

Group of students talking in a room.

Your entries will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Economic Analysis
Analysis Your entry must clearly present an economic analysis that is supported by data.
Use of Data All data, whether qualitative or quantitative, must support the concept you are presenting and must be accurate
Sourcing of Data You should use diverse data sources that support each other and strengthen your final conclusion.
Theme and Rigor
Relevance The topic you and your team select must align with the theme set by the New York Fed.
Concept, Content & Research In addition to relevance, your topic should explore a compelling economic concept, supported by thorough academic research.
Adherence to Format You should comply with the required submission format and word limits.
Organization You must submit a well-structured and logical presentation as it will help with clarity and improve its impact.
Citation You must provide accurate and relevant citations for the sources used in your submission.

For a better understanding of the rules and any changes to the competition, we highly recommend that you read through the official competition guidelines.

The Fed Challenge Timeline

The 2023-2024 edition of the High School Fed Challenge followed the following timeline:

Date Phase
September 12, 2023 Theme Announcement & Registration
February 15, 2024 Registration Deadline
March 15, 2024 Paper Submission Deadline
May 15, 2024 Publication Decision (for winners)

These dates change year after year. We highly recommend that you check the official website for announcement regarding the dates. 

What are the prizes at the High School Fed Challenge?

The High School Fed Challenge doesn’t offer monetary prizes. However, it provides something that is as valuable. Winning submissions will be highlighted in the Journal of Future Economists, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Even if your team isn’t selected as a winner, all participants will still receive recognition in the journal.

Female Analyst at Her Desk Works on a Laptop Showing Statistics, Graphs and Charts.

Frequently Asked Questions about the High School Fed Challenge

1. Is the challenge prestigious?

Yes, the High School Fed Challenge is a prestigious academic competition, with only a few set of winners among the 60-70 teams that participate. It’s the only official competition organized by the Federal Reserve for high school students, providing a competitive yet unique stage to display analytical and presentation skills to the wider economic and policymaking community.

Whether you win or not, participating can enhance your academic profile as it demonstrates your understanding of advanced economic concepts and research methods. Having your team’s name published in the Journal of Future Economists brings community recognition and opportunities, while also adding value to your profile.

2. Where does the challenge take place?

The High School Fed Challenge is primarily organized and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The competition usually takes place at the bank’s headquarters in New York City. However, teams also participate through virtual or local formats, particularly in the earlier stages.

3. Is there cost involved?

No, there is no cost involved for teams to participate in the High School Fed Challenge. The competition is free of charge, allowing high school students to excel in this opportunity without financial barriers.

4. What were the chosen themes in the past years?

Here were the themes for the 3 years:

  • Economics of Globalization (2023)
  • Economics of Climate Change (2022)
  • Economic Inequality (2021)

5. How does a team win in this challenge?

In the High School Fed Challenge, there isn’t a singular “winning” team. Instead, submissions are evaluated by judges from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who select the best entries to be published in the Journal of Future Economists.

This recognition is seen as the main prize in the competition. The selection process includes evaluating the submissions based on academic quality, relevance to the annual theme, and the diversity of perspectives included.

6. How many entries will be chosen by the Journal of Future Economists?

The overall evaluation process involved reviewing each submission as thoroughly as possible. The committee aims to select and publish entries that they think best represent and discussed the chosen theme.

7. How will the chosen teams be notified of the results?

Faculty advisors or coaches for all school teams that submitted to [email protected] will receive an email notification regarding selection on or before the specified deadline. This notification will inform them of the publication status of their paper.

A director giving instructions on set.

8. How do you get a copy of the Journal of Future Economists?

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will publish the Journal of Future Economists, both online and in print. It will be free, and each participating school and member of the published teams will get at least one print copy.

9. Is the High School Fed Challenge worth joining?

Yes, it is! Participating in the High School Fed Challenge is a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of economics and finance, develop teamwork and presentation skills, and engage with current, real-world economic issues. It offers a chance to compete with other like-minded students from other schools. If you’re interested in economics and want to challenge yourself, it could be worth considering.

On the other hand, make sure you can handle the extra work alongside what you’re already doing. Find a team and an academic mentor to help you out. Whether you’re planning a career in economics or just want a tough academic challenge, this competition is worth trying.

10. Does joining the High School Fed Challenge boost my college admissions profile?

It definitely does! Joining the High School Fed Challenge can make your college application look impressive. It shows you’re interested in and have a great understanding of economics and finance and that you’re excellent at other important aspects such as working in a team, thinking critically, and speaking in public. Doing well in the competition will show colleges how skilled, accomplished, and dedicated you are in your craft. So, it’s a great way to stand out and impress college admissions officers.

Advantages of Participating in the High School Fed Challenge:

The challenge was created to align with the Framework for 21st Century Skills and Common Core State Standards which emphasize critical thinking, communication, creativity, and teamwork, which are important for college and beyond.

  • Analyze economic data: Use tools to interpret real-world economic data and better understand the U.S. economy. Students obtain economic data from reliable sources, like the Federal Reserve, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Bureau of Economic Analysis. This data includes metrics like GDP growth rates, inflation rates, unemployment levels, and more. With these datasets, students apply statistical tools and economic theories to understand patterns, trends, and relationships.
  • Create a strong presentation: Share findings and offer recommendations in a well-structured presentation. Using concise and effective language and visual aids like graphs, charts, and relevant data sets, participants are able to present their analyses clearly and effectively. As a result, this reveals trends and emphasizes key insights, helping the audience understand these issues more comprehensively.
  • Improve critical thinking: Improve your thinking skills during a Q&A session with professional economists. During these sessions, students respond to questions that push them to defend and expand their research. They learn to listen carefully, process new information, and adapt their responses quickly. This back-and-forth dialogue improves their ability to articulate their points clearly and evaluate the strength of their conclusions when challenged.
  • Boost teamwork skills: Develop communication, adaptability, strategic planning, and problem-solving skills while working with your team. In this setting, communication is key. Every team member needs to share their ideas clearly, present research findings, and add to the group’s overall understanding. Good communication keeps everyone aligned on objectives and presentation structure. It also encourages adaptability, as students adjust roles and strategies to handle changing circumstances, new data, or differing viewpoints.

Attentive teenage schoolboys and schoolgirls debating in teams in library


How to excel in the High School Fed Challenge

1. Understand the rules and criteria

Start by carefully going over the competition’s guidelines, scoring criteria, and expectations. This will help your team clearly understand the presentation requirements and what judges expect. Scoring criteria show how much weight is given to research quality, economic analysis, creativity, and presentation skills. Expectations show the judge’s preferred level of detail, analysis, and style of delivery. With this knowledge, your team will understand which aspects to emphasize, what research to focus on, and how to structure your content to meet competition standards and get the judges attention.

2. Review past years’ entries

Reviewing past entries provides you with more scalable ideas for the competition’s standards and strategies. Analyzing previous presentations help your team spot recurring themes, successful presentation styles, and data visualization techniques that may serve useful for your own presentation. Pay attention to the types of analysis and recommendations that impressed judges, and where past teams may have lacked. This will help you understand which arguments resonated with evaluators and which creative approaches stood out.

3. Create a strong, creative presentation structure

Creating a strong presentation structure is important in building an effective narrative. Start by organizing your findings logically to guide the audience through key issues while building a compelling case in hand. Identify the economic problem you’re addressing clearly and provide context for the audience to understand its significance. Present well-researched data from credible sources to explain the causes, effects, and trends of the issue.

4. Research extensively

This goes without saying – extensive research will bring your game to the next level. Get a deeper understanding of current economic trends and issues by exploring credible sources like Federal Reserve reports, government economic databases, and reputable financial news outlets. The more comprehensive your data, the stronger your analysis will be. Remember to source from reputable sites and platforms only.

an academic triathlon awarding ceremony

5. Consult an industry expert

Getting expert feedback will not only improve your presentation but will ultimately give it more value, more bearing. Connect with teachers or local economists experienced in research, presentation strategies, or competition judging. Their insights can help you discover overlooked gaps in your arguments or data analysis. Share your research and drafts with them for constructive criticism to identify weak points in your assumptions, reasoning clarity, or narrative cohesion.

In conclusion, The Fed Challenge aims to inspire future economic experts by offering an engaging and interactive learning experience. It makes economics—often viewed as abstract or intimidating—an exciting field with real-world impact.

The competition helps you understand the Federal Reserve System and its role in shaping the U.S. economy. The Fed Challenge has made a lasting impact on economic education in the U.S. It has offered a competitive platform for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and has inspired many to pursue economics as a field of study and a career. The challenge also bridges the gap between theory and real-world application, helping students grasp the importance of economics in daily life.

Ultimately, joining the High School Fed Challenge is a great way to prepare for college and strengthen your admissions profile. The skills and experience you gain will help you stand out by showcasing your academic dedication, intellectual curiosity, and ability to handle rigorous analysis and teamwork.


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