Voya Financial Honors Blairstown, New Jersey, Teacher with Second Place Voya Unsung Heroes Program Award

WINDSOR, Conn., Oct. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced today that Laurie Burns, a teacher at North Warren Regional High School in Blairstown, New Jersey, has received the second place prize in the company's national 2017 Voya Unsung Heroes awards competition.   

Doug Peters, regional vice president, Tax-Exempt Markets, and Chuck Williams, senior vice president, Tax-Exempt Markets, for Voya Financial present Voya's 2017 Unsung Heroes program second place winner Laurie Burns with the $12,000 grant award.

Through the Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya Financial awards grants to K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence their students. Over its 20 years, the program has awarded more than $5 million in grants to more than 2,000 educators across the U.S.

As the second place winner, selected from more than 1,200 applications, Burns will receive $10,000 in addition to an initial $2,000 grant. This will bring her total financial award from Voya to $12,000. The money will be used to help fund "Heroes Forever", an innovative program for students at North Warren Regional High School. 

"We are honored to recognize Laurie Burns as the second place winner in the 2017 Voya Unsung Heroes program," said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets at Voya Financial. "For more than 20 years, Voya has recognized our nation's teachers who go above and beyond as they educate the children in their communities. In the same way that we help our clients prepare for and protect their financial futures, teachers set their students on the right path for a promising future. We are thrilled to be able to empower educators like Laurie to bring their innovative ideas to life."

Burns' innovative teaching idea, "Heroes Forever," is challenging students to compile interviews and oral histories from the veterans of the Blairstown community. Students will be tasked with interviewing veterans personally, utilizing technology resources to film and record interviews, as well as photographs and artifacts, and developing a comprehensive understanding of the historical context that surrounds their veterans. The students will then use these materials to collectively create a video and electronic archive of their community's rich and personal war history. Burns believes that by historicizing the community's own veterans in this manner, students are able to engage with an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to learning that encompasses technology, history, team-building, leadership and communication. The result, she believes, will be a unique and significant learning product for generations to come.

"The 'Heroes Forever' program is a wonderful intergenerational opportunity to connect our youth with some of our local heroes — our veterans," said Sarah Bilotti, superintendent of the North Warren School District. "There is often a divide between the generations — especially with so many technological advances, but this project helps bridge the gap. Our students use technology to create videos and also learn history to gain interpersonal skills by interviewing our veterans and hearing their stories of serving our country. We are very proud of Ms. Burns for creating this unique program and know it will serve as a valuable piece of history in our community for generations to come."

With the Voya grant, Burns plans to purchase more equipment to be used for the interviews, including laptops with improved photography imaging, digital cameras, a camcorder, digital converters, lighting and microphones, adapters and other accessories. Because it may be difficult for some of the veterans to travel to the school due to their health, funds will also be used for travel expenses for the students to travel to the veterans' homes and other locations to interview them.

To learn more about this year's winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Voya Unsung Heroes website (unsungheroes.com). Applications for the 2018 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2018.      

Media Contact:
Laura Maulucci                                                 
Voya Financial                                                 
Office: (860) 580-1278                                      
Cell: (508) 353-6913                                          
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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 13.6 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $11 billion in revenue in 2016. The company had $517 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2017. 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®. Certified as a "Great Place to Work" by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible and has been recognized as one of the 2017 World's Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute, as well as one of the Top Green Companies in the U.S., by Newsweek magazine. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook and Twitter @Voya.


SOURCE Voya Financial, Inc.