Press Releases

For Immediate Release
June 20, 2006 Contact: Charles Evenson

Educators and Entrepreneurs to Mix it Up On Land and Water

Opening Session of Acclaimed National Institute Offers Teachers Exclusive Look at Private Enterprise in Action

(Madison) Nearly 60 high school educators from around the country will get a rare, up-close look at the American free enterprise system at the opening session of the 2006 National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy (NIFEL). Paychecks, Financial Contracts and Entrepreneurship runs June 19-23, 2006 at Edgewood College in Madison. Participants will both hear from entrepreneurs and tour businesses created by them including a biotech firm, a lighting company and a combination tour boat and restaurant operation.

The NIFEL is presented by the Wisconsin Jump$tart Coalition, a nonprofit organization which recently won a Governor’s Financial Literacy award for its work in promoting financial literacy. The goal of NIFEL’s three sessions is to show educators how to teach their students about personal finance, money management and some economics. The NIFEL has been named “a recognized best practice for teacher training” by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission of the United States Department of the Treasury.

“I am pleased that the National Institute has taken this innovative approach to bring together educators and entrepreneurs,” said Governor Jim Doyle, who created a Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy to advise him on how to improve financial literacy in Wisconsin. “This program offers an unprecedented opportunity for our teachers and, in turn, their students, to learn about a key factor in helping Wisconsin’s economy grow.”

The program includes sessions on franchising and the history of entrepreneurship. A panel presentation by several entrepreneurs that includes a question-and-answer portion is called True Stories (Entrepreneurs/Media). Presenters include Brendan “Buff” Blackler, president, AAA Quality Limousines, Ltd. and Real Estate Leasing; Richard Entenmann, president, Asset Builders of America, Inc.; Phil Kaiser, president and chief operating officer, Culvers Restaurants; Joseph Saari, president, Precision Information Systems; and Tom Still, president,Wisconsin Technology Council. Pam Christenson of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce will serve as moderator of the panel.

Participants will travel to several entrepreneurial businesses:

• The trip kicks off with a luncheon cruise on the waters of Lake Monona aboard a Betty Lou Cruises tour boat that is part of a family-run business. The cruise features a presentation by Jack Von Rutenberg, a son of the company’s founders, describing how the Von Rutenberg family started and grew its tour-boat and restaurant business that today enjoys success and name recognition.

• Gentel Bio Surfaces is a bio-tech company that is an industry leader in protein microarray technologies and is known in the life sciences community for delivering innovative multiplex assays. President Alex D. Vodenlich and marketing manager Frank J. Lenoch will reveal how the company became one of the most successful, trusted and respected providers of protein chip technology, products and services world-wide.

• Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc., started 30 years ago, is a global entertainment and architectural lighting company. It has offices in Kowtoon, Hong Kong; Holzkitrchen, Germany; Rome, Italy; London, England and Middleton, Wisconsin.

The need for improved financial literacy is great. A nationwide survey conducted in 2006 by the National Jump$tart Coalition of graduating 12th graders showed them scoring only slightly above 50 percent on a test of their financial knowledge. Four similar surveys over the past eight years have produced similar results.

The NIFEL results from a major collaborative effort by several major sponsors including the CBM Credit Education Foundation (founding sponsor), Bank of America (national sponsor), Edgewood College, Northwestern Mutual, Wisconsin Jump$tart Coalition and DFI.

For more information about the National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy contact David Mancl, Director of DFI’s Office of Financial Literacy, at 608-261-9540 or email him at