Lowell Milken: Biography


Guided by Lowell Milken’s leadership as chairman since its co-founding in 1982, the Milken Family Foundation is regarded as one of the nation's most innovative private foundations. Groundbreaking initiatives in education reflect Lowell's core commitment to education as critical to America's future leadership, prosperity and security.

In 1987, Lowell created the Milken Educator Awards to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and to encourage talented young people to choose teaching as a profession. Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Milken Educator Awards recognize exceptional early to mid-career teachers with unrestricted $25,000 prizes 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 now numbers nearly 3,000 strong and is dedicated to strengthening education from local to international levels.

Lowell Milken headshot 2022

Determined to expand the focus beyond recognizing excellence among the few, Lowell determined to create a system to generate excellence among the many. A system to attract, develop, retain and motivate the best talent to the teaching profession. In 1999, he introduced the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement—a comprehensive approach offering educators powerful opportunities for career advancement, professional growth and competitive compensation.

Demand for TAP System reforms compelled Lowell to establish the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) in 2005. NIET partnerships have impacted more than 350,000 educators and 3,500,000 students in more than 1,000 school districts with sustained and meaningful improvement in teacher practices and student learning. Twenty years and hundreds of independent research studies later, NIET/TAP rubrics are being integrated into teacher preparation programs at over 75 colleges and universities.

In 1990, Lowell created the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience to explore the vast panorama of sacred and secular works reflecting 350 years of Jewish life in America. This historic, award-winning recording project has grown to encompass 600 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. 

Lowell Milken Family Foundation

The Lowell Milken Family Foundation is dedicated to strengthening communities through innovation and education.

The Milken Archive's mission to preserve, disseminate and create works of the American Jewish experience is amplified through the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. As North America’s first permanent academic home for the study of Jewish American music, UCLA MAJE fosters artistic creativity, scholarship, performance and other cultural expression to advance and advocate for the field of American Jewish music in order to engage and educate the community. 

Another transformative educational organization—the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC)—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. ARTEFFECT extends the learning around Unsung Heroes as role models by inviting middle and high school classrooms to interpret these stories through the visual arts. The initiative offers opportunities for advocacy, recognition, exhibitions, educational resources, and professional development through its Ambassadors Program – all to create a world-class art collection by students that honors the profound impact of one individual to inspire the many. LMC has reached over 3,000,000 students worldwide through its online projects, educator resources and student competitions. The Fort Scott headquarters has welcomed visitors from all 50 states and around the world. 

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 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. The Lowell Milken Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofits (LMPN) serves as a central hub for education, thought leadership and scholarship at a time when the generational wealth shift is transforming philanthropy and giving.

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.

About Lowell Milken

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 Alumnus of the Year for Public Service. Chapman University and Hebrew Union College have each presented Lowell with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The Education Commission of the States recognized Lowell with the James Bryant Conant Award, its highest honor for significant improvements by an individual to American education.

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 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.