Lowell Milken, Founder, Milken Educator Awards
Since 1982, Lowell Milken has led the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) as chairman, guided by a core principle that “education is at the heart of nearly everything we value as individuals, as citizens and as productive human beings.” Forty years of education research, policy and practices have followed, complemented by firsthand visits to thousands of classrooms and the creation of major national initiatives. Lowell’s historic efforts were recognized by the Education Commission of the States with the 2017 James Bryant Conant Award for significant individual contributions to American education; the following initiatives among them.
- Lowell developed the Milken Educator Awards to recognize the importance of outstanding teachers and to encourage talented young people to choose education as a profession. Often called “the Oscars of teaching,” the Awards recognize exceptional early-to-mid-career educators with unrestricted $25,000 rewards during surprise ceremonies surrounded by students, faculty, dignitaries and media. First presented in 1987, the Milken Educator Awards' coast-to-coast network has grown to nearly 3,000 recipients committed to strengthening education from local to international levels.
- With the Milken Educator Awards dedicated to recognizing excellence among the few, Lowell determined to generate excellence among the many as embodied by TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, a proven research-based whole school reform model. Introduced in 1999, TAP incorporates multiple career paths; continuous job-embedded professional growth; performance-based compensation; and accountability with trained evaluators and detailed feedback for improvement.
- Demand for TAP’s proven reforms led Lowell to establish the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) in 2005, committed to building educator excellence to give all students the opportunity for success. NIET partners with schools, districts, states and universities to attract, develop, support and retain the high-quality human capital necessary to raise achievement levels for all students. NIET has impacted nearly 300,000 educators and 3 million students in 1,000 districts. NIET rubrics are also an integral component of teacher preparation programs at more than 75 universities.
Lowell Milken Family Foundation
The Lowell Milken Family Foundation (LMFF) is dedicated to strengthening communities through innovation and education.
- The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC) encourages student-driven project based learning to discover, develop and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes who have made a profound and positive difference on the course of history. Lowell founded LMC in partnership with 1992 Kansas Milken Educator Norman Conard. The LMC Hall of Unsung Heroes, based in Fort Scott, Kansas, is an interactive museum and research center attracting people of all ages. LMC has a global footprint, impacting more than one million students across all 50 states and around the world.
- In 2011, the UCLA School of Law established the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy (LMI) to prepare students for outstanding careers and leadership in law as well as business, government and philanthropy. The Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs is a business plan competition offering a substantial financial prize to propel the winning business plan forward. The knowledge, skills and experience gained through LMI prepare students to assume leadership roles not only in the practice of law, but also in business, government and philanthropy. LMI recently launched a focused Program on Philanthropy and Nonprofits.
- An exciting new education initiative, also in partnership with the University of California Los Angeles, opened in 2020. The Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience is the first permanent center for the study of music reflecting over 350 years of Jewish life in North America. Curriculum, scholarship, performance, and the creation of new works are already underway.
- At Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT) honors the legacy of Leah Hoffmitz Milken, a letterform expert and legendary professor. Expanding on a new model of typographic education, research and international discourse, HMCT is a catalyst and global resource for educational and professional developments in the fields of typography and visual communication.
About Lowell Milken
Recognition for Lowell's groundbreaking achievements includes awards from the National Association of State Boards of Education, Horace Mann League, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Jewish Theological Seminary, Education Commission of the States, Kappa Delta Pi international honor society in the field of education, and UCLA School of Law Alumnus of the Year for Public Service. Chapman University and Hebrew Union College have each presented him 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 and London-based Heron International, a worldwide leader in property development. Lowell’s global experience 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.