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St. Norbert College receives honors in inaugural iOMe Challenge

From St. Norbert College, January 29, 2010
by Mike Counter,, (920) 403-3089

St. Norbert College received honorable mention in the iOMe Challenge, an initiative created and supported by a group of concerned businesses and organizations that issued a call to college and university students to write comprehensive plans to ensure a dignified retirement for members of their generation and beyond.

"We were hoping for the best in the Challenge, but were not expecting to place in the top three, let alone beat submissions from Harvard and other high-caliber colleges," said Kevin Steiner, team leader for St. Norbert College.

Hundreds of students and dozens of schools participated in the first-ever event, offering solutions that ranged from providing additional visas to gain more payroll taxes, to privatizing Social Security.

"Perhaps one of the most significant impending conflicts in the U.S. will be the tension between generations" said David Wegge, professor of political science at St. Norbert College. "The iOme Challenge gives young people a chance to express their concern as well as their solutions to a critical issue facing their generation, retiring with dignity."

After extensive review, a blue-ribbon panel of judges announced that the winner of the iOMe Challenge and a cash prize of $20,000 and $1,000 for their faculty advisor is the team from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. The winning plan, along with a video from the students, is available at:

The first runner-up in the competition is the team from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, while the team from St. Norbert College received honorable mention. Both teams received $2,000 and $500 for their faculty advisor. Three schools were named finalists: Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., and LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, N.Y.

The iOMe Challenge entries were judged for originality, content, style, economic soundness, educational value and accessibility to young Americans. The essays and videos were intended to focus on what life will be like in retirement 40 years from now if our current experience and practices remained the same - and potentially - if any changes should be considered in policy and in how our society prepares for retirement. The members of the blue ribbon panel that chose the winners are:

Don Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy

James Choi, assistant professor of finance at the Yale School of Management

John List, economics professor at the University of Chicago

Martin Merzer, longtime journalist and president of Martin Merzer Creative


Laura Schwartz, former special assistant to President Clinton, and president of White House Strategies

Aaron Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar Systems

Beverly Inman-Ebel, vice president of Network of Entrepreneurial Women World Wide, and former president of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

The winning Western Michigan University team will travel to Washington, D.C. on Feb. 4, where they will visit with members of Congress to discuss their plan and participate in a reception with special guests. More details about the activities in Washington are available by contacting Jaclyn Day at 202-470-5362, or

The iOMe Challenge, which was founded by PAi, (Plan Administrators Inc.) was created as an exciting and financially rewarding way to engage young people in the development of public policy. The students were asked to suggest changes that would help secure their financial future, start a retirement dialogue across generations and serve as a call to action on Main Street and Capitol Hill.

In addition to PAi, the competition was sponsored by St. Norbert College in Wisconsin -- which helped coordinate a volunteer board that conducted the first round of entry reviews and through a blind process, narrowed the field to six finalists. Additional sponsorship came from Nicolet National Bank, Intellectual Marketing and Piston Manufacturing. The program also received support from the Council of Independent 401(k) Recordkeepers (CIKR), AARP and The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA).