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Congratulations to Meredith Mooney, the 2014 Third Place Winner. She was presented with her award on October 29, and now she can put the $7,000 grant to work in the classroom. Previously Patti Shaffer was awarded the Second Place award.

Opera Alive: Song, Story, Art” is designed to help fifth grade students connect with true stories from American history by using the stories to compose original one-act operas. Incorporating visual arts, each class will write a libretto, make staging decisions, and finally orchestrate the opera using Orff instruments. During the process, students will conduct research by conducting a virtual interview with local music professionals as well as historical research. By doing so, the students will find the true stories they want to bring to life. Technology will be used to notate and “test” music during the creative process as well as record video of the completed projects. This innovative project will bring history to life for the students, helping them make deep connections with the material. The project will also teach several different Texas curriculum standards in social studies, English/language arts, music, and art.

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.