Voya Financial, Inc., a leading provider of

retirement plans for

educators, announced today that Jill Daceus, a third-grade teacher and librarian at Florida City Elementary School in Florida City, has received a $2,000 grant as part of the company’s 2021 Unsung Heroes awards competition.

Since the program’s inception, Voya has awarded more than $5.8 million in support of educators through this nationwide program.

“Educators have faced unprecedented challenges during this past year and, more than ever, need support as they work to develop today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders,” said Angela Harrell, Voya Foundation president, “This year,

educators like Jill

Daceus have had to be

particularly innovative to find new and creative ways to reach students to help keep them engaged during challenging times.”

Daceus’ innovative teaching idea, “We ‘AR’ Reading Ninjas,” is a

literacy initiative that will be implemented in the

current school year. The Voya grant will be used to purchase the STAR/AR computer program that helps develop students’ reading skills. Daceus hopes that through the integration of the new computer program purchased with the Voya grant, students will cultivate a love for reading by being incentivized and celebrated for reaching literacy goals.

If necessary, the program will be adjusted for distance learning or will be recalibrated for implementation based on social distancing requirements.

Selected from a group of applicants from across the United States, Daceus is one of only 50 winners and has the only winning program in the state. In addition to receiving the $2,000 award to help fund and bring her program to life, Daceus will now compete with other finalists for one of the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 from Voya Financial.

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