Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE:VOYA), a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced today that Nichole Folkman, a teacher in the Hartsburg-Emden School District in Hartsburg, Illinois, won the second-place grant award in the company's annual Voya Unsung Heroes program.
Through the Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya awards $2,000 grants to 50 K-12 educators across the country each year to support their innovative and creative teaching ideas. Voya also selects three top winners to receive additional funds. In its 20-plus years, the program has awarded more than $5 million in grants to educators across the United States.
As the second-place winner, Folkman receives $10,000 in addition to the $2,000 grant ? bringing her total financial award to $12,000. This money will be used to help bring "Stags Read" to life in the Hartsburg-Emden School District.
"We are thrilled to recognize our nation's educators who go above and beyond, even though the most challenging times, to make a difference in the lives of our leaders of tomorrow," said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax Exempt Markets for Voya's Retirement business. "For more than 20 years, Voya's Unsung Heroes program has empowered educators, like Nichole, to bring innovative teaching ideas to life. We are honored to recognize her as our 2020 second-place winner and hope that she continues to be an example as she prepares our next generation of leaders for the 21st century workforce."
Folkman's innovative teaching idea, "Stags Read," focuses on combining community and school resources to change access to books. The project will increase community reading and literacy by providing books to pre-school children, through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library; school children, through summer reading; adults, through Free Little Libraries; and book swaps at schools.
"Nichole has taken her passion for Literature and brought that to life in not only our schools but also our community," said Hartsburg-Emden School District principle Jon Leslie. "She is an emergent leader in her field, and it's great to see her get this recognition."
With the Voya grant, Folkman hopes to create a community where everyone has easy and free access to books. Working with the entire community and impacting the generations now will continue the impact for generations to come.
To learn more about this year's winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit Unsung Heroes (unsungheroes.com). Applications for the 2020 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2021.
Unsung Heroes is part of Voya Foundation's signature program, Voya Teacher Voices. Voya Teacher Voices focuses on empowering teachers to become leaders by promoting the teaching career, recognizing high-achieving accomplishments, providing training opportunities and offering financial support to achieve their goals.
About Voya Foundation
Voya Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where Voya Financial operates and its employees and customers live. Voya Foundation provides grants and establishes signature partnerships in the areas of financial literacy and children's education and fosters employee engagement to deepen our positive impact on the community. For more information, visit www.VoyaFoundation.com.
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 13.8 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $7.5 billion in revenue in 2019. The company had $606 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2020. With a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible ? one person, one family, one institution at a time ? Voya's vision is to be America's Retirement Company®. Certified as a "Great Place to Work" by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has been recognized as a 2020 World's Most Admired Company by Fortune magazine; one of the 2020 World's Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute; as a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index; and as a "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion" on the Disability Equality Index by Disability:IN. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.