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Congratulations to Victoria Chatfield, the 2015 Second Place Winner. She was presented with her award on October 9th, and now she can put the $12,000 grant to work in the classroom. First place announcement is coming soon, so stayed tuned!

Chatfield’s innovative teaching idea, “Screen It,” is focused on using performing arts to foster collaboration among students in all grade levels. This project will allow students at Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School to create a series of short films that will be presented at a festival in the school’s auditorium, which is open to the Brooklyn neighborhood. Eighth graders will direct, seventh graders will write, sixth graders will design, and all students will be eligible to perform in the short films. Through this project, students will engage and collaborate across all grade levels — enhancing the learning of younger students, while encouraging older students to become role models and leaders in the school’s community. Chatfield’s idea was inspired by a seventh-grade student who wrote a screenplay about a young man who unsuccessfully fights to overcome the gang culture of his neighborhood and go to college. After an in-class reading, classmates gave the student a standing ovation and wrote dozens of requests asking if the screenplay could be performed the following year. Chatfield hopes to capture this enthusiasm by using performing arts to help students learn, collaborate and grow together.

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™ could help you turn great ideas into reality for students.

For almost 20 years, and with more than $4.5 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 handed out its first awards in 1996 as a way for Voya Financial® 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.