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Milken Educator Awards Continue in 2022 to Honor Outstanding Teachers Nationwide

Milken Family Foundation Surprises Heroes of Education with Individual $25,000 Awards

February 8, 2022

Santa Monica, Calif., — The Milken Family Foundation is thrilled to resume its Milken Educator Awards this month to honor America's heroes – innovative and dedicated teachers. Now in its 35th year, the Milken Educator Awards team will travel across America with the unique goal of surprising inspirational, transformational teachers with individual $25,000 prizes. The awards will honor more than 60 elementary and secondary educators in the 2021-2022 school year.

"One talented educator can change the trajectory of a student's life," said Lowell Milken, Milken Educator Awards creator and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation. "Milken Educators lead the young people in their classrooms and schools to achieve academically, while preparing them to make the most of life's opportunities. These past two years have reinforced the pivotal role of our nation's educators, who serve on the front lines of accelerating learning and addressing the well-being of our students."

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, local and state education officials, and journalists.

Recent studies have emphasized the toll job-related stress can have on the teacher supply long-term, with the concern that the pandemic may have only exacerbated the situation. Issues affecting working conditions ranged from a lack of administrator and technical support during remote instruction to inadequate implementation of COVID-19 safety measures. Teachers expressed feeling increasingly overwhelmed given the dynamic educational landscape the pandemic has created. These findings illustrate just how exceptional the recipients of this year's Milken Educator Awards are amidst one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Research shows that teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student performance. In fact, the most effective teachers produce up to five times the learning gains of those least effective, and 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 2,800 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, 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 (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman 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.
  • Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • "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. 
  • 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 get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorsAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward). 

For more information, visit 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 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 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world.

Jana Rausch, (310) 435-9259 (cell),
Laura Blank, (646) 245-2496 (cell),