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Congratulations to Jane Layman and Richard Love, the 2015 First Place Winners. They were presented with their award on October 30th, and now they can put the $27,000 grant to work in the classroom.

Layman and Love’s innovative teaching idea, “Shark Tank 7th Grade Style,” is focused on allowing students to experience what it's like to be entrepreneurs by merging business and technology to inspire students to one day start their own business. The two teachers will give students the opportunity to see what it's like to develop an idea from scratch, create and design a new product, calculate the financials to market and sell that product, and finally present the product to a group of potential investors exactly like the popular ABC television show Shark Tank. The students will be required to produce at least 10 prototypes of their product, pull together financial statements, build a presentation, and actually present the information to a panel of five “sharks” from the community, asking for a "deal" — or percent stake in their company.

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.