WINDSOR, Conn., Oct. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced today that Monica Alicea, an educational specialist at Cheatham Hill Elementary School in Marietta, Georgia, has received the third place prize in the company's national 2017 Voya Unsung Heroes awards competition.
Through the Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya Financial awards grants to K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and their ability to positively influence their students. In its 20-plus years, the program has awarded over $5 million in grants to more than 2,000 educators across the U.S.
As the third place winner, selected from more than 1,200 applications, Alicea will receive $5,000 in addition to the initial $2,000 grant — bringing her total financial award from Voya to $7,000. The funds will be used to help support "Serving 4 Cause, Farm 2 Table," an innovative program for the students at Cheatham Hill Elementary School.
"We are honored to recognize Monica Alicea as the third place winner in Voya's 2017 Unsung Heroes program," said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets at Voya Financial. "At Voya, we are proud to recognize our nation's teachers who go above and beyond as they educate the children in their communities. In the same way that we help our clients prepare for and protect their financial futures, teachers set their students on the right path for a promising future. We are thrilled to be able to empower educators like Monica to bring their innovative ideas to life."
Alicea's innovative teaching idea, "Serving 4 Cause, Farm 2 Table," focuses on hosting a dinner to benefit the Must Ministries "Save it Forward" program. The school's staff is invited to eat a meal prepared by their students at the Kitchen Kids Café. Diners pay for dinner with a bottle of laundry detergent, which is donated to Must Ministries. Through this experience, students not only learn how to cook, but they also gain knowledge about hunger and homelessness in Georgia.
"This program is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about cooking and nutrition while benefitting the community around us," said Keeli Bowen, principal of Cheatham Hill Elementary School. "The hard work and commitment from Monica to start and nurture this project as it grows is remarkable. To know our students are gaining culinary skills, while also gaining servant leadership abilities by helping families in need, makes this program a win for everyone involved. We are so grateful to Voya for this honor."
With the Voya grant, Alicea plans to expand her project by purchasing more gardening equipment, including a tower garden, raised garden beds, and soil and plants for the gardens that will enable her students to grow produce for families in need. Her goal is to have one raised bed for each grade level and to eventually have a greenhouse to grow even more fruits and vegetables.
To learn more about this year's winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Voya Unsung Heroes website (unsungheroes.com). Applications for the 2018 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2018.
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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 13.6 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $11 billion in revenue in 2016. The company had $517 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2017. 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 and has been recognized as one of the 2017 World's Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute, as well as one of the Top Green Companies in the U.S., by Newsweek magazine. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook and Twitter @Voya.
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SOURCE Voya Financial, Inc.