Successful Grant Application: Voya Unsung Heroes

As part of our series about successful grant applications, this week we feature Gail Morris who applied for the Unsung Heroes Award from the Voya Foundation. Her project is about learning financial literacy skills by using robots and applying coding instruction.

Gail teaches career planning to grade 6–8 students at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School in Newark, Delaware. She came up with a project that uses robots to learn how to code as students learn about science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) careers. Obtaining a grant allowed her to purchase the robots and additional resources for this project. The award was $2,000. The application itself was simple, including descriptive information required in each section.

Below is the program description from her application.


The demand for STEAM-related careers is steadily increasing. We are living longer these days, so our money must last longer. Financial literacy skills and investing earlier in life will help deter us from retiring with unnecessary debt. Students will be fully engrossed in learning about and researching STEAM-related careers. They will look at their current interests and match up with a career in the STEAM field. They will find details about their career such as job outlook, salary, skills, and education, as well as present it to the class. Resources from, Discovery Education,, and STEAM professionals will be used.

Financial plans will be developed to determine how much net income needs to go towards savings each pay period. Students will learn about savings vehicles (CDs, money market accounts), banks, renting versus owning, the stock market, and more. Resources from, SIFMA,, and industry professionals will be used to assist with the development of their plan. In their plan development, students will hypothetically invest in the stock market for an eight-week period to see who can grow the largest portfolio. First-place winner in each class will be given an award.

Career research and financial plans will be presented to the class and to a group of teachers who will be selected as judges. Judges will be given a rubric to determine if the careers can truly justify the financial plan developed by the student.  First-, second-, and third-place awards will be given out to each class.

Ozobots, Dash, Dot and Cue robots, and littleBits kits will also be used to help students mimic real-life careers. They will gain a better understanding of the 4 Cs of twenty-first century learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.


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