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2022 Milken Educator Awards Begin, Celebrating U.S. Top Teachers and Inspiring Next Generation

Milken Family Foundation surprises unsung heroes of education with individual $25,000 Awards

October 03, 2022

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SANTA MONICA, CA — The Milken Family Foundation will launch its 2022 Milken Educator Awards tour this week, recognizing outstanding elementary teachers, principals and specialists coast to coast with unrestricted $25,000 cash prizes. The Awards, established in 1987, were designed with one unique goal: to "Celebrate, Elevate and Activate" the American K-12 profession and inspire young, capable people to join it.

"Educators have the most important job in this country: to prepare students to reach their potential and move on successfully to the next stage of learning and life," said Lowell Milken, founder of the Milken Educator Awards and chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation. "In today's challenging world, the guidance and support of talented educators to shape our nation’s future are all the more significant. The Milken Educator Awards say in a very public way that exemplary educators should be recognized and celebrated."

The Awards will honor up to 40 elementary educators in the 2022-2023 school year. Over the past 35 years, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. 

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The specific states and schools on this year's winners' list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced in front of cheering students, appreciative colleagues, education officials at all levels, and journalists.

Myriad challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic have uncovered a discouraging reality: the need is greater than ever before to attract and retain top talent in America’s school systems. Experts point to a variety of issues facing school leaders, including exhaustion from the pandemic, staff shortages, and meeting the real-time, instructional and social-emotional needs of teachers and students. Today's education landscape in America only further highlights the exceptional nature of this year’s class of Milken Educator Award recipients.

Research shows that teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student performance. In an era when U.S. students must increasingly compete with students worldwide for opportunities, the Milken Educator Award’s motto has never been more salient: "The future belongs to the educated."

The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.

Along with the financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

  • The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in April 2023, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education.
  • In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFF) mentoring program, in which new Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.
  • "We find you. You don't find us!" Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.  

To receive regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the Award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates more than four decades of elevating education in America and around the world.

Jana Rausch
Vice President, Communications
310-570-4774 Office 310-435-9259 Cell


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