Innovative Education Program Takes Third Place in National Voya Unsung Heroes Awards Competition

WINDSOR, Conn., Oct. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced Friday that DeWayne Mason, Ph.D., a teacher at Patriot High School in Jurupa Valley, California, has received the third place prize in the company's national 2016 Voya Unsung Heroes awards competition.

DeWayne Mason, a teacher at Patriot High School in Jurupa Valley, California, is the third place winner in the 2016 Voya Unsung Heroes awards competition. Dr. Mason is wearing red and standing in the center of the picture.

This year marks the program's 20th anniversary. Since 1996, the Voya Unsung Heroes program has awarded nearly $5 million in grants to more than 2,000 K-12 educators across the U.S. in support of their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence the children they teach. In looking back at the winning projects from the program's 20-year history, Voya has also been able to track the popular trends and compelling concepts that have shaped our country's education system. (See infographic: "Voya Highlights 20 Years of Teaching Trends").

As the third place winner, selected from more than 1,350 applications, Dr. Mason will receive $5,000 in addition to an initial $2,000 grant. This will bring his total financial award from Voya up to $7,000. The money will be used to help fund "Morality and Diversity Murals," the award-winning program he is implementing at Patriot High School. The program has received tremendous support from Judy Lynch, a fifth grade teacher at Rustic Lane Elementary School, and John Allen, Jurupa Unified District's professional development coordinator, who realized the importance of the program and helped to implement it within the school.

"Voya Financial is honored to salute DeWayne Mason who has the vision to pioneer new teaching methods and creative ideas in the classroom that inspire learning," said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets at Voya Financial. "Each day, we help individuals plan, invest and protect their savings to prepare for their financial future, and we are proud to recognize these men and women who prepare students for their future. Teaching is one of the most important professions in the world, and we are privileged to help educators like Dr. Mason continue to make a positive, lifelong impact on the children they teach."

Dr. Mason's innovative teaching idea, "Morality and Diversity Murals," is focused on providing an artistic outlet for students to apply moral thinking and art expertise to create murals that recognize and promote diversity and important moral values. The project's goal is to advance students' knowledge of the core values of a "good society," including teamwork, respect, responsibility, commitment, discovery, empathy and the pursuit of excellence in learning and character. The associated art benefit is to teach students the elements, principles and purposes of art. By combining these two areas, students who are not typically enrolled in formal art classes at the middle and secondary levels have the opportunity to grow both morally and artistically. Dr. Mason's project expands upon an innovative, but limited, program currently underway at Patriot High School, and it seeks to serve up to 22 schools and 10,000 students in grades six through 12. Project murals will be displayed at highly visible school, district and community venues for all to see the positive impact of the program.

"Dr. Mason's 'Morality and Diversity Murals' are outstanding examples of Patriot High School's vision of 'Pursuing Excellence in Learning and Character,'" said Monty Owens, principal of Patriot High School. "Beyond the art skills that he is sharing with his students, they develop an appreciation for the social, political and moral leaders from all cultures who have positively impacted the world. The murals are inspiring to our school community, and we are grateful to Dr. Mason for bringing this program to life."

The $7,000 grant will allow Dr. Mason to purchase additional art supplies to expand the program to students at other schools in the Jurupa Unified School District. Specifically, the funds will purchase Masonite boards, acrylic paint, brushes, easels and other art supplies.

To learn more about this year's winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Voya Unsung Heroes website ( Applications for the 2017 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2017.      

Media Contact:
Bill Sutton
Voya Financial
Office: (860) 580-2626
Cell: (315) 373-9685
[email protected]

About Voya Financial®

Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better. Serving the financial needs of approximately 13 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $11 billion in revenue in 2015. The company had $466 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2016. With a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time — Voya's vision is to be America's Retirement Company™. The company is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible — Voya has been recognized as one of the 2016 World's Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute, and as one of the Top Green Companies in the U.S., by Newsweek magazine. For more information, visit Follow Voya Financial on Facebook and Twitter @Voya.

Voya Unsung Heroes 20th Anniversary


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