(Submitted photo. Jennifer Bertrand, who teaches in Le Roy, with a display about their winning innovative teaching idea.)
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced today that Jennifer Bertrand, Robert Blake and Julie Coleman, a group of teachers at Le Roy Central School District in Le Roy, have received a $2,000 grant as part of the company’s 2016 Voya Unsung Heroes awards competition.
This group of teachers is one of only two winning teams statewide! The other winning group is in New York, NY.
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 their ability to positively influence the children they teach. This year marks the program’s 20th anniversary. Since 1996, it has awarded nearly $5 million in grants to more than 2,000 educators across the United States.
Video testimonials sent in by winners from the past two decades underscore how the Voya Unsung Heroes program has made a significant difference in the lives of these amazing teachers and their students. 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”).
“At Voya, we not only have the privilege of helping teachers plan for their retirement, we also have this unique opportunity to help them dream big in the classroom and inspire their students to do the same,” said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets at Voya Financial.
“We are proud to recognize those exceptional teachers who work every day to raise the bar of their profession and find new ways to spark a love of learning. As we help Americans plan, invest and protect their savings to build a secure financial future, we’re honored to help this group of teachers go above and beyond to prepare their students for their own bright future.”
The Le Roy team’s innovative teaching idea, “Knights of the Makerspace,” is focused on providing the opportunity for students to collaborate while boosting their potential for creativity and innovation through the use of technology. Students involved in the program will have access to the use of a makerspace, a creative, "do-it-yourself" space where students can gather to create, invent, and learn.
The goal for “Knights of the Makerspace” is to create a space within the Le Roy Central School District building for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students wherein they can use robots, circuits, computer coding, 3D printing and more and ultimately tap into their problem solving potential. Students will have access to the makerspace during or after the school day. Additionally, the space will be used to assist in the recruiting efforts of the school’s female population, which is a priority to empower and energize students within the computer sciences field.
Selected from a group of more than 1,350 applicants, the group is among only 100 winners across the country who will receive this award to help fund and bring their program to life. In addition they will now compete with other finalists for one of the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 from Voya Financial.
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 2017 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2017.
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. For more information, visit voya.com.