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Congratulations to Patti Shaffer, the 2014 Second Place Winner. She was presented with her award on October 10th, and now she can put the $12,000 grant to work in the classroom. First and second place announcements coming soon, so stayed tuned!

“Life Around Us” is a two-fold multi-media project in a 21st century classroom setting.  During the first semester, students will collaborate with peers to create a persuasive multi-media documentary.  The documentary theme will be a human-interest story, a social injustice, or a story about improving society.  Student teams will research topics and prepare a storyboard for the presentation.  Filming will begin and the final presentation will be shown to a campus audience.  During the second semester, students will create a multi-media real-life documentary.  Students will interview a member of the family, a senior citizen volunteer, a brave veteran, or any community member asking questions about changes in society and the impact the social changes have made on their lives.  Students will then create a video as well as a keepsake book for the individual that was interviewed.  This project will inspire students, from our 21st century classroom, to create multi-media projects about society and life around us.

Are you an educator with a class project that is short on funding but long on potential? Do you know a teacher looking for grant dollars? Voya Unsung Heroes™ (formerly ING Unsung Heroes) could help you turn great ideas into reality for students.

For more than 15 years, and with more than $4 million in awarded grants, Voya Unsung Heroes has proven to be an A+ program with educators. The program’s “alumni” have inspired success in the classroom and impacted countless numbers of students.

Voya Unsung Heroes began in 1995 as a way for Voya Financial™ (formerly ING U.S) to demonstrate its commitment to the education community. Grants are given to K-12 educators utilizing new teaching methods and techniques that improve learning.

Each year, educators submit applications for a Voya Unsung Heroes grant by describing projects they have initiated or would like to pursue. Each project is judged on its:

  • Innovative method
  • Creativity
  • Ability to positively influence the students

Each year, 100 finalists are selected to receive a $2,000 grant, payable to both the winning teacher and his or her school. At least one grant is awarded in each of the 50 states, provided at least one qualified application was received from each state. Winners are selected by Scholarship America, a national non-profit educational support and student aid service organization.

Of the 100 finalists, three are selected for additional financial awards: $25,000 for first place; $10,000 for second place; and $5,000 for third place. The top winners are selected by the Educators Advisory Board, consisting of six distinguished educators from across the United States.

If you or someone you know leads or has an idea for an outstanding educational project, we encourage you to apply for the Voya Unsung Heroes program today. To complete the online application visit

Contact Scholarship America via email or by phone at (800) 537-4180. Or ask your local representative for more information. The deadline for applications is April 30. Winners are announced in the fall.