A committed philanthropist for more than three decades, Lowell Milken’s work in comprehensive K-12 education reform has provided hundreds of thousands people improved educational experiences and opportunities to move on to the next stage of learning and life. Upon the founding of the Milken Family Foundation in March 1982, Lowell said:
“The Foundation’s mission is based on the abiding belief that one of the most powerful ways of stimulating human and social progress is by maintaining standards of excellence and by celebrating the achievement of outstanding catalysts for change. We wouldn't have established this Foundation, and we wouldn't be pursuing our mission if we didn't believe in the possibilities for people to help themselves and those around them to make their lives better.”
These words are deeply routed in trust, trusting that students, educators, administrators and parents, armed with the right skills and knowledge, will want to succeed and foster success in their families and communities. Based on his personal experiences, research and thousands of visits to classrooms across the country, Lowell concluded that education was the means most conducive to provide the fullest opportunities for fulfilling one’s potential. In short, the future belongs to the educated.
Celebrating Excellence in Education
To ensure this secure future, Lowell Milken has developed successful education reform systems and programs, on a national scale, that have and continue to serve as calls to action, signaling educators, policymakers and community leaders to champion innovative strategies to improve the American K12 system. Conceived in 1985, and with the first formal awards presented in 1987, the Milken Educator Awards publicly recognizes the exceptional work of outstanding teachers and principals with unrestricted $25,000 awards. Over the past 25 years, the program has grown into the most preeminent teacher-recognition program in America, now encompassing a network of educators of more than 2,500 strong and growing. This extraordinary group has elevated the teaching profession, instilling in students the confidence to reach for and attain higher levels of achievement, and inspiring students to consider becoming teachers themselves.
Creating and Sustaining Opportunities for Teachers and Students
In 1999, Lowell Milken founded what has become the nation’s largest and longstanding multi-year, multi-state effort to create performance-based teacher and principal compensation systems. Recognizing that sufficient numbers of quality teachers would never result from current education practices, Lowell Milken introduced TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement with the goal of enhancing teacher effectiveness and boosting student achievement. A comprehensive strategy to attract, develop, motivate and retain high-quality teachers — backed by years of research and real-world experience in classrooms across America —TAP creates a school environment with powerful opportunities for career advancement, professional growth, teacher accountability and competitive compensation. TAP’s system of school-based, professional development has driven increases — sustained increases — in teacher skills and student achievement in hundreds of the most challenging schools in the nation. Presently, TAP impacts more than 20,000 teachers and 200,000 students across the country.
As a result of TAP’s rapid growth, powerful outcomes and increasing demand, in 2005 Lowell Milken established the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) as an independent public charity to support and manage the TAP system nationwide. With a dedicated staff drawn from the fields of education and business, NIET creates partnerships with schools, districts, states and community organizations to ensure TAP's effectiveness and sustainability in a diverse set of urban, rural and suburban schools across America. President Barack Obama has pointed to the "promising work" of TAP in serving to ensure that "anyone entrusted with educating our children is doing the job as well as it can be done." NIET also operates the Teacher Quality Best Practices Center, which provides technical expertise, professional development and training modules to those implementing a diverse range of teacher quality reforms.
Recent Innovative Education Reform
The Lowell Milken Family Foundation was also established to support and provide funding for organizations and initiatives that strengthen communities through education and life-long learning. A deep dedication to fostering innovative learning environments led Lowell Milken to lend his time, ideas and support to the formation of Lowell Milken High Tech Los Angeles (HTLA), a public charter school that engages students with a rigorous curriculum rich in technology, self-directed study, and complemented by real-world internships. Officially dedicated in 2004, HTLA achieved California Distinguished School status in record time.
In 2007, Lowell founded the Lowell Milken Center with a mission to discover, develop and communicate the stories of unsung heroes who have made a profound and positive difference on the course of history. The Lowell Milken Center aims to demonstrate through student-driven, project-based learning that people are inherently endowed with the responsibility to impact the world by improving the lives of others.
With the recent establishment of the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law, Lowell’s work in education extends greater opportunity to UCLA law students, faculty, young law practitioners and alumni. Building on UCLA School of Law’s already outstanding programs, the Lowell Milken Institute provides expanded studies on business law and policy, clinical experience, additional research opportunities for faculty, along with student fellowships. The knowledge, skills and experience available through the Lowell Milken Institute will help ensure that students are prepared to not only assume leadership roles in the practice of law, but also in the areas of business, government, and philanthropy.
As Lowell Milken enters his fourth decade as an advocate for education reform, his aim remains steadfast: to enrich people's lives and nurture human potential. He continues to foster programs that develop and advance innovative ways to prepare people with the skills, knowledge and experiences that will allow them to take advantage of life's opportunities.
Taking Resources from Students and Giving them to Administrators
April 11, 2013
Falls Village, CT
Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrice Pujol and Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. James P. McIntyre, Jr., accept TAP Awards of Distinction from NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken (far left) and NIET President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gary Stark (far right). The award comes with a financial prize of $10,000.
Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. James P. McIntyre accepts the TAP Award of Distinction from NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken (far right) and NIET President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gary Stark (far left). The award comes with a financial prize of $10,000
TAP Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken moderates the panel "The TAP System: Advancing Educator Effectiveness in Practice" at the 2013 TAP Conference in Washington D.C. He shares the stage with distinguished educators from across the country who share their experiences implementing TAP at the classroom, district and state level. From left to right: TAP Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken, Lady’s Island Middle School Principal in Beaufort County Schools, South Carolina, Mona Lise Dickson; Judkins Middle School Master Teacher at Judkins Middle School in the Lucia Mar Unified School District, California, Alyssa Labrado; Tennessee Superintendent of Knox County Schools James P. McIntyre Jr.; East Iberville Elementary School Master Teacher in Iberville Parish Schools, Louisiana, Larry Minor; Constitution Elementary School Principal in Deer Valley Unified School District, Arizona, Mark Oesterle; Superintendent of Ascension Parish Schools, Louisiana, Patrice Pujol and NIET President and CEO Dr. Gary Stark.
NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken presents the 2013 TAP Founder's Award to North DeSoto Middle School, located in Stonewall, Louisiana. The award comes with a financial prize of $50,000. Pictured from left to right are NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken, Louisiana District-Based State Executive Master Teacher Nicole Bolen, DeSoto Parish Schools Director of Student Learning Kathy Noel, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), North DeSoto Middle School TAP Master Teacher Vicki Cabra, North DeSoto Middle School TAP Master Teacher Deania McMillian, North DeSoto Middle School Principal Keith Simmons, Louisiana TAP Executive Director Sheila Talamo, DeSoto Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley, and NIET President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gary Stark.
TAP Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken stands with panelists from the State Education Reform and Role of Teacher Effectiveness Panel, for which he served as moderator on Friday, March 8 during the 2013 National TAP Conference in Washington, D.C. From left to right: South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mitchell Zais, U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development Carmel Martin, Tennessee Assistant Commissioner of Teachers and Leaders Dr. Sara Heyburn, TAP Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken, Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Guthrie, Director at the Iowa Department of Education Dr. James Glass and NIET President and CEO Dr. Gary Stark.
Principals accept the TAP Ambassador Award for 2013, which comes with a financial prize of $5,000. Pictured from left to right are NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken; Principal Ed Burnes from Battery Creek High School in Beaufort County School District, South Carolina; Principal Danny Mendez from Southport Elementary School in the Metropolitan School District of Perry Township, Indiana; Principal Mary Ann Spears from Lincoln High School in the Lincoln Consolidated School District, Arkansas; Principal Julie Fahey from Queen Palmer Elementary School in Colorado Springs School District 11, Colorado; Principal Dr. Esrom Pitre from Donaldsonville High School in Ascension Parish Schools, Louisiana; Principal Dr. Mark Oesterle from Constitution Elementary School in Deer Valley School District, Arizona; and NIET President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gary Stark.