SDE: Milken Family Foundation - National Educator Awards Program Connecticut State Department of Education SDE: Milken Family Foundation - National Educator Awards Program

Milken Family Foundation - National Educator Awards Program

{Milken Educator Logo} The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards program was created by Michael and Lowell Milken to provide public and financial recognition to teachers, principals, and other education professional who are advancing excellence in education.

{Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards Connecticut Logo} Selection Process

Based on Foundation guidelines, participating State Department's of Education appoint Blue Ribbon Committees that identify candidates. Identification and selection procedures are confidential, and there are no nomination or application procedures. Frequently Asked Questions.

Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference

The Milken Educator Award program's financial awards are presented each year when honorees from all participating states gather for the Milken Family Foundation National Education conference. To foster professional development as an integral part of educators' work, the conference examines significant issues in education, providing an opportunity for honorees to share their ideas with each other and with other distinguished representatives from academia, government, business and the local community. For more information, visit:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Milken Educator Award?

A. The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award provides public recognition and an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and other education professionals who are furthering excellence in education.

Q. How are Milken Educators selected?

A. Based on guidelines established by the Milken Family Foundation (see next FAQ), the Department of Education in each of the 43 participating states appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to recommend candidates for selection to the Foundation. There is no nomination or application procedure for the Award.

Q. What are the criteria for selection?

A. Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school and profession; outstanding accomplishment and strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

Q. How are the awards announced?

A. The main element is surprise! Each fall newly selected recipients are taken completely by surprise in their classrooms or at school-wide assemblies. With an entourage of media and distinguished officials, the recipients are usually notified by their state's chief of education, often accompanied by the governor and other state leaders.

Q. Are the recipients required to do anything specific with their monetary awards?

A. Milken Educators may use their unrestricted $25,000 award in any way they wish. A recent Foundation survey found that the largest number of past recipients have used their award to finance their children's education or their own continuing education. Others have bought equipment for their schools, funded scholarships for their students and, in one case, even financed the adoption of their children.

Q. When do the recipients receive their monetary award?

A. Recipients are notified of the award in the fall. The following June, they participate in the three-day Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference in Los Angeles, culminating in an awards ceremony at which recipients receive their $25,000 awards. At the 2001 Conference, 155 Milken Educators received awards totalling $3.875 million.

Q. Are both elementary and secondary school educators selected each year?

A. The award alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators except for those states that are new to the program. These new states are allowed to select both elementary and secondary educators in their first year.

Q. What other benefits besides the $25,000 do recipients receive?

A. Professional development opportunities and public recognition at notification events, annual state conferences and the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference; membership in state and national networks of over 1,600 Milken Educators, including the Milken Educator listserv; and participation in ongoing projects such as the Milken Family Foundation Festival for Youth.

Q. Why does the program put such an emphasis on teacher quality?

A. Recognizing and rewarding quality educators has been a hallmark of the Milken Educator Awards program since its inception. However, as the lack of advancement opportunities drives classroom teachers out of the profession and fewer young people pursue a career in education, the nation faces a potentially catastrophic shortage of quality classroom teachers. Over the next ten years, schools will need to hire 2.2 million new teachers, but will come up short by 870,000 or 40%. Studies show that only one in ten college-bound high school students are strongly interested in teaching as a career, due in part to competition from the private sector which is having a particularly damaging effect on the supply of science and math teachers.

In 1999, Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken introduced the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), a comprehensive strategy for restructuring the education profession to attract, retain and motivate quality teachers. TAP works by integrating five key principles: multiple career paths; broad market-driven compensation; performance-based accountability; on-going, applied professional growth; and expanded supply of high quality teachers. In 2000, the Education Leadership Council representing eight states - Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia - with 30% of the nation's K-12 students formally endorsed TAP. In the fall of 2000, Arizona launched five TAP pilot schools.

Q. What are the Milken Family Foundation's other areas of interest?

A. The Milken Family Foundation was established in 1982 to discover and advance inventive ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The Santa Monica, California-based Foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in medical research and education. Milken Family Foundation initiatives include:

  • American Epilepsy Society/Milken Family Foundation Epilepsy Research Award, Grant & Fellowship Program
  • Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate (CaP CURE)
  • Festival for Youth Community Service Program
  • Jewish Educator Awards
  • Mike's Math Club
  • Milken Archive of American Jewish Music
  • Milken Institute, an economic think tank focusing on jobs and capital issues
  • Milken Scholars Program
  • Teacher Advancement Program (TAP)

Q. Does the Milken Family Foundation have a Web site?

A. Yes. Go to For additional questions, call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 998-3026.

If you require further information, please contact:
Kim Wachtelhausen
State Coordinator
Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program
Bureau of Educator Effectiveness - Talent Office
Connecticut State Department of Education
Phone: (860) 713-6841

Content Last Modified on 6/22/2017 2:20:39 PM