Innovative Educational Program Takes First Place in National Voya Unsung Heroes Awards Competition

Innovative Educational Program Takes First Place in National Voya Unsung Heroes Awards Competition

“Biotech Learning and Earning” transforms traditional classroom setting into real-world science laboratory
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Chicago high school #teacher, Mary Clark, receives $27K grant as the @Voya #UnsungHeroes 1st place winner
Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 3:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Voya Unsung Heroes®

CONTENT: Press Release

October 30, 2014 /3BL Media/ - Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), formerly ING U.S., announced today that Mary Clark, a teacher at Eric Solorio Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois, has received the first-place prize in the company’s national 2014 Voya Unsung HeroesTM awards competition.

Since the Voya Unsung Heroes program began in 1996, Voya has awarded nearly $5 million to more than 2,000 K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence the children they teach. 

As the first-place winner, selected from over 1,000 applications, Clark will receive $25,000 to add to her initial $2,000 grant, bringing her total to $27,000 to help fund Biotech Learning and Earning, the award-winning program she is implementing at Eric Solorio Academy High School. 

“We are thrilled to celebrate this well-deserved award with Mary,” said Victor Iturralde, principal at Eric Solorio Academy High School.  “She is a consummate educator who has a contagious enthusiasm for and passion about teaching that is equaled by her willingness to unceasingly search for ways to help her students succeed.” 

Biotech Learning and Earning is designed to expose the school’s underserved population of high school students to a state-of-the-art advanced science course that will improve their knowledge about, skills for, and application in biotechnology.  Using the classroom laboratories and leveraging the school’s partnership at a local university and hospital, students engage in advanced biotech activities, including performing DNA extractions and practicing techniques working alongside research scientists.  These laboratory experiences enhance students’ opportunities for scholarships and work-study programs to help offset college tuition while providing real-world experience and insight into career opportunities.  Students also become knowledgeable and practiced consumers of scientific research and experience how biotechnology can benefit them personally, their families, and the community at large. 

The $27,000 grant will allow Clark to purchase additional equipment to enhance the program, including micropipettes and stands, and electrophoresis reagents.

“Voya Financial is honored to salute these outstanding teachers who have the vision to pioneer new methods and techniques in the classroom that inspire learning,” said Carolyn Johnson, president of Tax-Exempt Markets for Retirement Solutions at Voya Financial.  “Each day, we help individuals prepare for a secure financial future and we are proud to recognize these men and women who prepare students for their future.  We understand teaching is one of the most important professions in the world and are pleased to help Mary continue making a life-long, positive impact on the children she teaches.”

To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Voya Unsung Heroes website. Applications for the 2015 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2015.   

As an industry leader and advocate for greater retirement readiness, Voya Financial is committed to delivering on its vision to be America’s Retirement CompanyTM and its mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time. 


Media Contact:

Emily Dawe                                                                  

Voya Financial                                                                                                   

Office:  (860) 580-1750                                                             

Cell:  (203) 589-7688                                                         


About Voya Financial
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), formerly ING U.S., is composed of premier retirement, investment and insurance companies serving the financial needs of approximately 13 million individual and institutional customers in the United States.  The company’s vision is to be America’s Retirement CompanyTM and its guiding principle is centered on solving the most daunting financial challenge facing Americans today — retirement readiness.  Working directly with clients and through a broad group of financial intermediaries, independent producers, affiliated advisors and dedicated sales specialists, Voya provides a comprehensive portfolio of asset accumulation, asset protection and asset distribution products and services.  With a dedicated workforce of approximately 7,000 employees, Voya is grounded in a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time.  For more information, visit or view our Voya Financial Interactive Company Profile.  Follow Voya Financial on Facebook and Twitter @Voya.

CATEGORY: Education