Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

The Art Effect Project

June 29, 2015
The Unsung Heroes international art competition comes with a grand prize of $7,500 and the chance to bring attention to the lives of extraordinary people who've yet to be recognized. 

June 29, 2015

Education opens our eyes, enabling us to understand and connect with one another. Art opens our hearts, inspiring and transforming us. Together, these forces change young peoples’ lives for the better, for good.

The Art Effect Project, an exciting new Initiative of the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC), teaches students the power they have to create change in the world, inspiring them to follow the examples of positive role models from history.  

Through an innovative project-based learning approach, LMC works with U.S. and international K-12 students and educators to discover and creatively communicate the stories of individuals (“Unsung Heroes”) who took extraordinary actions that positively impacted history and have yet to be recognized. Individuals such as Irena Sendler, a Catholic social worker who day after day risked her life to save 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. And Ken Reinhardt, who endured violence and bullying for his kindness towards the nine African-American students attempting to integrate his all-white Little Rock high school at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

By celebrating Unsung Heroes who demonstrate tremendous courage, compassion and conviction, LMC teaches the power that one person has to make a profound difference in the lives of others. The Art Effect Project, and its international art competition with a $7,500 grand prize, carries out this mission by giving students an opportunity to generate unique, creative interpretations that honor the legacies of Unsung Heroes in an array of artistic mediums.

Lowell Milken Center For Unsung Heroes Art Competition

The Art Effect Project represents a truly holistic, student-led and cross-curricular process. Students interact with history, social studies, science and other subjects; read, research and write; and gain exposure to character education and ethics. They grapple with questions such as, “Can you stand up for what’s right, even when it’s not easy or popular? Do you respect differences and reach out to help others?” By applying the lessons of history to their lives today and drawing connections from the universal values represented by Unsung Heroes, students learn the impact of their own actions on others. This style of learning fosters meaningful peer-to-peer communication, community and civic engagement, and wide possibilities for collaboration across myriad fields of studies.

"My Unsung Hero art project was only briefly about a grade or prize," said 12th-grader Lexi Balaun. "The moment I read my hero’s story it turned into this desperate need to show the world how amazing a hero lost in time could be. The project pushed me to grow as an artist. It gave me the drive to represent my hero the way she deserved to be represented and it pushed me to illustrate her story in a unique way without words. I was honored to share her story with anyone who was willing to listen—and that was the real prize."

Further, students involved with The Art Effect Project produce artist statements to articulate their creative visions and the personal and emotional relevance of their subject matter, giving them ownership over and passion for their own learning. Transcending the art classroom walls, these students become responsible for sharing an untold story with the world and inspiring their audiences to discover their own inner hero. 

"The experience was unlike anything I have ever witnessed in my 15 years of teaching. Students were compelled to do their best, not only for themselves, but for the Unsung Hero they were honoring through their work," said Brad LeDuc (KS '13) an art educator in Topeka, Kansas. "This is the most powerful teaching tool I have ever utilized as a teacher in relationship to building character in my students while introducing them to countless individuals whose lives are worthy of modeling their own after."

LMC's International Art Competition: $7,500 Grand Prize!

The Unsung Heroes Art Competition (, with its grand prize of $7,500, is open to U.S. and international students in grades 6-12. Eligible students are invited to submit high-quality art projects interpreting an Unsung Hero’s character and actions in the following two categories: (1) Celebrating Unsung Heroes; and (2) Discovering Unsung Heroes. Winning art projects will be displayed temporarily at LMC’s state-of-the-art Hall of Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, and given full consideration for display in a permanent collection. Call for submissions opens Sept. 1, 2015 and closes Feb. 15, 2016. 

For Educators

To inspire your students through an Unsung Heroes art project, access LMC’s free downloadable 10-step art lesson plan at The activities in the lesson plan fulfill multiple parts of the National Art Standards, which are color coded for easy reference.




The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes—an affiliated organization of the Milken Family Foundation—is an international nonprofit educational leader that discovers, develops and communicates the stories of Unsung Heroes who have made a profound and positive impact on the course of history.

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