Developing Green Entrepreneurs Through The ‘Environmental Ventures’ Program Takes First Place In The National ING Unsung Heroes® Awards Program Competition

September 13, 2010 Atlanta, GA Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

ING Awarded $240,000 to the Most Innovative Educators Across the U.S. in 2010 and More Than $3.5 Million Since the Program Began in 1996

ING, a global financial services company and leading provider of retirement plans and programs for teachers, announced today that Jeremy Stone, a social science teacher at Common Ground High School in New Haven, Conn., has received the top prize in the national 2010 ING Unsung Heroes awards program. As the first-place winner, selected from more than 1,600 applications, Stone will receive $25,000 to add to his initial $2,000 grant. This brings his grant total to $27,000 to help fund “Environmental Ventures,” his award-winning program he is implementing at Common Ground High School. Common Ground High School is the nation’s first charter school focused on the urban environment, preparing students to become the next generation of environmental leaders.

Stone’s winning “Environmental Ventures” program is designed to influence the students to become the next generation of green entrepreneurs. Students will plan, launch and run more than 10 small businesses that turn produce from Common Ground’s urban farm into value-added, environmentally friendly products. While doing so, they will learn valuable skills and concepts including how to lead teams, develop and market a product, create strategic business plans, speak in public, create budgets and make decisions. They will also create and sell products that conserve the environment and promote healthy lifestyles in urban New Haven. The students will also earn real profits, helping to launch more green businesses and support family economic security. A portion of the profits they earn from selling products at Common Grounds’ on-site farm stand and citywide farmers’ markets will come back to the students in the form of an end-of-course paycheck based on their contributions and the success of their venture. According to Stone, who lives in Portland, Conn., the remaining portion of the proceeds will get re-invested in future environmental ventures, helping to sustain the overall effort. The additional grant money will help increase the program’s pool of venture capital to expand businesses, pay for a high hoop house, buy needed tools and equipment, and purchase a locking storage unit to keep all related equipment and tools safe.

 “Jeremy is a real gift to our school, and we couldn’t be more proud that he’s representing Common Ground High School on a national level,” said Lizanne Cox, director, Common Ground High School. “He has high expectations of his students and is well-respected by both students and staff. With an innovative program like ‘Environmental Ventures’ it’s no wonder that he has 100 percent student participation every minute of the class.”

According to the findings of a national survey commissioned by the ING Foundation on teacher appreciation1, nearly all Americans believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student's life. In fact, outside of immediate family, teachers were seen by Americans as the group that had the greatest, positive impact on their lives growing up, even more so than friends. Yet, nearly all Americans also believe that while teachers have such a significant impact on the lives of youth, the teaching profession remains tremendously under-appreciated and that more needs to be done to recognize our good teachers. That is one of the reasons ING recognizes great teachers across the United States who demonstrate innovative thinking — through its “ING Unsung Heroes” program. 

“Educators are one of our most valuable resources and yet their hard work and efforts often times go unnoticed,” said Brian Comer, president, Public Markets, ING U.S. Retirement Services. “We hope the additional grant funds Jeremy Stone was awarded through the ING Unsung Heroes program will help to sustain “Environmental Ventures.” Educators make investments each day in the lives of our children. The very least we can do is to make an investment in them and their innovative programs that will benefit their classroom, their community, and the lives of the children they will serve for years to come.”

For the past 14 years, the ING Unsung Heroes awards program has recognized kindergarten through 12th grade educators nationwide for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence the children they teach. Since honoring the first “unsung hero” in 1996, ING has awarded more than $3.5 million to nearly 1,500 educators across the United States. The 2010 ING Unsung Heroes winners were selected from a group of more than 1,600 applications.

To learn about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the ING Unsung Heroes website at Applications for the 2011 ING Unsung Heroes awards are available on the website, or by calling 800.537.4180 or e-mailing


[1] ING Foundation Teacher Appreciation Survey Conducted by GFK Custom Research April 9-11, 2010 with 1,000 male and female respondents by telephone.


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About ING 

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to over 85 million residential, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 105,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.

ING is a leader in providing 403(b) plans to Kindergarten through 12th grade educators and other employees of nonprofit organizations in America. In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation.

ING’s diversity management philosophy and commitment to workforce diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer.

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