NIET Announces 2019 Founder's Award Finalists

March 7, 2019

NIET Announces 2019 Founder's Award Finalists

Five schools in Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee will each receive $10,000; Winner, to be announced March 22, will take home $50,000 grand prize

Santa Monica, Calif.—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today announced that five schools across the country have been selected as 2019 NIET Founder's Award finalists. Created by NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken, the Founder’s Award is given annually to one school for exceptional implementation of NIET's principles to build educator excellence and advance student success.

Each finalist receives a plaque and $10,000. The winner, to be announced during NIET's National Conference in New Orleans on March 22, 2019, will take home the grand prize of $50,000.

The finalists are:

"These five schools are maximizing the talents of educators and school leaders to achieve measurable results for students," says Lowell Milken. "Congratulations to Alice Harte, CCETA, Desert View, Dodson Branch and Wildflower on creating vibrant school cultures that empower educators and inspire students—tomorrow's leaders—to reach their highest potential."

"This finalist award is well-deserved as each of these schools is showing what students and teachers are capable of when they receive the support they need," says NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen. "We are proud to see the successes they have accomplished so far and look forward to watching them continue to build on this progress."

Pictured from left to right
Top: Wildflower School, AZ; Dodson Branch School, TN; CCETA, AR
Bottom: Desert View, AZ; Alice Harte, LA

On the ground for two decades, NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states and universities to ensure that all students have access to talented teachers every year they are in school. It does so by helping schools create formal structures for teacher leadership; regular, job-embedded professional learning; and a system for educator support, observation and feedback tied to high expectations and real time needs of teachers and students. Today, NIET's initiatives are impacting more than 250,000 educators and 2.5 million students.

About the NIET Founder's Award:
Funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the NIET Founder's Award comes with a $50,000 cash prize to be used toward instructional improvement efforts. The finalists will be recognized at a luncheon on Friday, March 22, 2019, during the 19th Annual National NIET Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, before more than 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. The winner will be announced at the end of the luncheon.

NIET Founder's Award recipients are selected by NIET. The finalists were selected based on their efforts to make instructional excellence the cornerstone of school improvement; plan for regular professional learning focused on daily needs of teachers and students; create a culture of collaboration and reflection, and create leadership teams made of teacher leaders and administrators.

The NIET Founder's Award yields benefits that will strengthen the individual school and support its teachers. This is done by means of prominent public recognition and by opportunities to substantively interact on issues of educator effectiveness and student learning with leaders from government, business and academia.

Photos from the NIET Founder's Award finalists' recognition luncheon on March 22 will be available for download at

For interviews with the NIET Founder's Award finalists during the conference or to attend, contact Jana Rausch at or (310) 435-9259. For more information, visit Follow conference news on Facebook at NIETteach and Twitter @NIETteach or via #NIET19.

About NIET
On the ground for two decades, NIET partners with schools, districts, states and universities to develop formal systems for building educator excellence and advancing student success. Today, NIET's initiatives impact more than 250,000 educators and 2.5 million students.