Discovery Award

See the 2017 Winners

With prizes up to $7,500, the Discovery Award recognizes outstanding Unsung Heroes projects by students grades 4-12.

Catholic social worker Irena Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. Little Rock Central High School senior Kendall Reinhardt faced bullies and beatings for being kind to the nine African Americans who integrated his school at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Young photojournalism student Therese Frare took the iconic photograph that changed the face of AIDS in the U.S. in the early 1990s.

These people demonstrated extraordinary courage and compassion without seeking credit for it. They changed the world and influenced our lives, but their names are often not found in history books. We call them Unsung Heroes—but they are only unsung until discovered and celebrated.

The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Discovery Award provides students a unique opportunity to do just that: use their creative talents to research primary sources and develop outstanding projects that feature Unsung Heroes who can serve as role models and inspire others to create change.

The remarkable stories of Unsung Heroes go untold until YOU tell them. Now is your chance.

  • Prizes
  • Project Guidelines
  • How to Enter
  • Important Deadlines



The recipients of the prize determine the use of the funds, which are unrestricted. All winning projects will be featured on the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes website.

  • 1ST PLACE: $7,500
  • 2ND PLACE: $2,000
  • 3RD PLACE: $1,000

A certificate of recognition will be sent to projects with promise that did not place.

Past Winners

2017 Discovery Award Winners

1st Place – Lilla Day Monroe
2nd Place – Pauli Murray
3rd Place – Eliza Potter
Middle School Winner – Varian Fry
High School Winner – Witold Pilecki
International Winner – Julius Madritsch

*See all winning projects HERE.

2016 Discovery Award Winners

1st Place – Emma Darling Cushman
2nd Place – Eugene Lazowski
3rd Place – Walter Sommers
Elementary School Winner – Katherine Buckner Avery
Middle School Winner – Frances Kelsey
High School Winner – Mitsuye Endo
International Winner – Jan Opletal

*See all winning projects HERE.

 2015 Discovery Award Winners

1st Place – Tran Ngoc “Harry” Hue: Steadfast Leader for Liberty
2nd Place – Horace King: Bridging Barriers and Building a Legacy
3rd Place – Roy Stryker: The Man Who Led Americans to See America
$2,500 Founders Special Achievement Award – Kodak in the Congo
Middle School Winner – Leadership in Action: The Giver of Hope
International Winner – Lord of the Words

*See all winning projects HERE.

2014 Discovery Award Winners

1st Place – Confronting Adversity through Secret Newspapers in Terezin
2nd Place – Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes
3rd Place – Reverend Right New Deal
Elementary/Middle School Award Recipient – Sands of Time

2013 Discovery Award Winners

1st Place – We are Newspapermen
2nd Place – Gone Too Soon
3rd Place – Ida Tarbell: Using Journalism to Repair the World
International Award Recipient – Under the Seagull’s Wings
Elementary/Middle School Award Recipient – Jacob Valentine II, Father of Refuge

2012 Discovery Award Winners

1st Place – Walk with Me
2nd Place – Richard Thomas: Catalyst for International Diplomacy
3rd Place – Ralph Carr: The Advocate of the Japanese

Project Guidelines


  1. Student or students enrolled in a U.S. or international school as of September 24, 2017.
  2. Students in the United States or an international school in grades 4-12.
  3. Any individual student or group of students numbering five or less.
  4. Project developed during the current school year.
  5. Project developed specifically for or tailored for the Discovery Award.
  6. All areas of project development must be completed by the student(s), including but not be limited to: voice overs, camera work, filming, etc.
  7. Topic and mode approved by February 15, 2018. Send your topic to Norm Conard ( for approval.

Project Topics

To be considered for a Discovery Award, project topics must:

  1. Be about one Unsung Hero who, with specific actions, changed the world.
  2. Demonstrate impact over time. (Your Unsung Hero’s actions should have taken place at least two decades ago.)

Project Modes and Requirements

The project must be one of the following forms (click  each type to view requirements)

Acknowledgment and Credit of Sources

An Unsung Hero project developed for the Discovery Award, or in conjunction with the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, must be the students’ original work and correctly credit the sources used for project development. The materials used for project development include, but are not limited to: articles, books, government documents, documentaries, film footage, interviews, letters, photographs, radio broadcasts, etc.

  • Documentary: Sources must be properly cited in the credits at the end of the film and in the annotated bibliography.
  • Performance: Sources must be properly cited in the annotated bibliography.
  • Website: Sources must be properly cited in the annotated bibliography with a link to the bibliography on the website.


Judges are outstanding educators in the area of project-based learning who will use a rubric to evaluate each project on the following:

  1. Originality of topic and research.
  2. Excellence of quality.
  3. Analysis of subject.
  4. Annotated bibliography demonstrating depth and scope of research.
  5. Process Paper describing the development of the project.
  6. Demonstration of how the Unsung Hero serves as a role model.
  7. Sustaining value and potential for life beyond the development of the project.
  8. Ability to inspire students to take actions to carry out the legacies of their subjects.

How to Enter

Step 1: Intent to Enter

Step 2: Project Submission

  • Entries must be received by July 1, 2018
  • All submissions must include 4 copies of the annotated bibliography and process paper, and these may be submitted digitally.

Documentary film or multimedia:

  • 2 copies of the script
  • 2 copies of the documentary film or multimedia (DVDs or USB drives)


  • 2 copies of the script
  • 2 videos of the performance (DVDs or USB drives)


  • Web address of the website
  • 2 CDs or USB drives with the website

Please mail your completed submission materials to:

Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes
ATTN: Discovery Awards
1 South Main
Fort Scott, KS 66701

Important Deadlines

  • February 15, 2018: Discovery Award Application due
  • July 1, 2018: Completed project submissions due
  • September 15, 2018: Winners announced