One of the winning programs in the 2010 ING Unsung Heroes awards competition was submitted by Dr. Alesia Slocumb-Bradford, a teacher at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C. She is one of only 100 winners across the country that are going back to school with a $2,000 ING Unsung Heroes grant, which identifies her as one of the nation’s most innovative educators. Slocumb-Bradford’s $2,000 award will help bring her idea, “Project PROMISE: Probing Robotics for Observations of Mars to Inspire Student Engineers,” to life in the classroom. She will now compete with other winners for one of the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000.

“Educators are one of our most valuable resources and yet their hard work and efforts often times go unnoticed,” said Brian Comer, president of Public Markets, ING U.S. Retirement Services, in a statement. “We hope the additional grant funds Dr. Alesia Slocumb-Bradford was awarded through the ING Unsung Heroes program will help to sustain her program. 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.”

The technology-education program will provide the opportunity for 150 students at Jefferson Middle School to participate in hands-on robotics activities surrounding the Mars mission. Students will focus on four areas: researching various aspects of Mars, creating Web pages, designing and building computer-operated robots and learning how to write computer programs. The program offers students high-level mathematics concepts and problem solving to better prepare them for college and their future careers.

Slocumb-Bradford, who lives in Accokeek, Md., hopes that the program will become a prototype program for the District of Columbia Public School System and a model for teachers by showcasing a standards-based classroom at its best.

To learn about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the ING Unsung Heroes website at www.ing.com/us/unsungheroes. Applications for the 2011 ING Unsung Heroes awards are available on the website, or by calling 800.537.4180 or e-mailing ing@scholarshipamerica.org.