Lowell Milken, Chairman and Co-Founder
By developing groundbreaking national initiatives such as the Milken Educator Awards—the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program—Lowell Milken’s work has strengthened opportunities and outcomes for hundreds of thousands of students and educators across the country.
“Education is at the heart of nearly everything we value as individuals, as citizens and as productive human beings.” — Lowell Milken
Under Lowell Milken's leadership since its establishment in 1982, the Milken Family Foundation is regarded as one of the nation's most innovative private foundations. Groundbreaking initiatives in K-12 education, medical research and public health are augmented by a history of funding to more than 1,000 organizations with compatible missions worldwide.
In particular, Lowell Milken's reputation as a visionary leader of education reform has been honed by more than three decades of education research, policy and practices—complemented by firsthand visits to thousands of classrooms and the creation of major national initiatives.
Lowell developed the Milken Educator Awards to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and to encourage talented young people to choose teaching as a profession. Coined "the Oscars of teaching" by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Educator Awards recognizes exceptional teachers with unrestricted $25,000 rewards during surprise ceremonies surrounded by students, faculty, dignitaries and media. First presented to 12 outstanding recipients in California in 1987, the Milken Educator Awards’ coast-to-coast network is more than 2,700 strong and dedicated to strengthening the nation’s schools.
Lowell’s lifelong commitment to student achievement has led to some of the country's most innovative means to dramatically advance educator effectiveness. As founder of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, he guides a team of educators, research and policy experts who forge partnerships that create leadership and professional development opportunities for educators to thrive. NIET’s partners range from schools, districts and states to universities and other nonprofit organizations. NIET’s services are rooted in two signature initiatives: TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement and the Educator Effectiveness Best Practices Center.
Another transformative educational organization—the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes—discovers, develops and communicates the stories of Unsung Heroes who have made a profound and positive difference on the course of history. Through student-driven project-based learning, students and entire communities learn that each of us has the responsibility and the power to take actions that "repair the world" by improving the lives of others. Founded in 2007 in partnership with Milken Educator Norman Conard (KS '92), the Lowell Milken Center has reached over 1,200,000 students and 9,000 schools in all 50 states, with growing global reach. The new Hall of Unsung Heroes opened in 2016 at the Lowell Milken Center’s Fort Scott, Kansas, headquarters, as a state-of-the-art museum and hub of research and discovery.
In 1990, Lowell created the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience to explore the vast panorama of sacred and secular works reflecting 360 years of Jewish life in America. This historic, award-winning recording project has grown to encompass 700 newly recorded works—500 of them world-premiere recordings—and more than 800 hours of oral history videos. The Milken Archive's "virtual museum" website makes this content accessible to people of all faiths and cultures.
The Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law extends greater opportunities to UCLA law students, faculty, young law practitioners and alumni. Building on UCLA School of Law's already outstanding programs, the Lowell Milken Institute (LMI) provides expanded studies in business law and policy, clinical experience and additional research opportunities for faculty, along with faculty fellowships, student scholarships, awards and business law conferences. The Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs is a business plan competition offering a $100,000 prize, the largest offered to students in any discipline at UCLA. The knowledge, skills and experience gained through LMI prepares students to assume leadership roles not only in the practice of law, but also in business, government and philanthropy.
The Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena honors the legacy of Leah Hoffmitz Milken, a letterform expert known for unique logotypes and typefaces and a legendary professor for two decades. The Center is dedicated to setting the global standard of excellence in typography and design education at a time of rapidly changing visual communication methods and devices.
Recognition for Lowell's achievements in education includes awards from such organizations as the National Association of State Boards of Education, Horace Mann League, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Jewish Theological Seminary, Kappa Delta Pi international honor society in the field of education, and UCLA School of Law. Chapman University and Hebrew Union College have each presented Lowell with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Named by Worth magazine as one of America's most generous philanthropists, Lowell is also an international businessman who chairs National Realty Trust, the largest property owner of early childhood centers in the U.S., as well as London-based Heron International, a worldwide leader in property development. His experience in business at the global level informs his strategic vision for the high-caliber educational opportunities vital to equip future generations to compete on the world stage and to secure America’s heritage as a democracy.
Lowell Milken is a product of California's public school system, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley, where he received the School of Business Administration's Most Outstanding Student Award. He went on to earn a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, with academic honors of Order of the Coif and the distinction of UCLA Law Review.