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The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. The awards are presented jointly by the National Education Association (NEA) and the NEA Foundation.


All affiliate awardees receive expenses-paid travel to The NEA Foundation’s Annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington, DC in February. Five awardees are selected for The Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and receive $10,000 each plus expenses paid travel for themselves and one guest. The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence recipient, selected from the five, receives $25,000 in cash and a personalized commemorative gift.

Nomination packets are submitted directly to CTA for nomination selection. Nomination packets are then read and screened by a committee to verify that required criteria has been met. Nomination packets that have met criteria are then forwarded to an interview committee for each nominee to be interviewed. The interview committee will select one nominee to recommend to the CTA Board for approval as the CTA nominee to the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. CTA nominates and submits a single nominee’s name and qualifications to the NEA Foundation, consistent with the criteria described below.  The nomination deadline this year is Monday, February 8, 2021.

All current members of an NEA local affiliate or bargaining unit are eligible, including teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff. NEA state affiliates, the Federal Education Association, and direct affiliates may each submit one nomination per year. Only nominations submitted and endorsed by one of these affiliates will be considered.

The NEA Foundation (NEAF)—like NEA—does not and shall not  discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin ancestry), disability, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. NEAF encourages NEA state leaders to consider awardees who reflect the diversity among NEA members.

  1. Professional Practice: The nominee demonstrates expertise, creativity, and innovation in his/her field. The nominee uses a variety of strategies to effectively address students’ different learning styles and needs. The nominee is a leader at the local, state, and/or national level. (15 points)
  2. Advocacy for the Profession: The nominee is a current, active member of the local, state, and/or National Education Association, and has assumed leadership roles at one or more of these levels. The nominee is an active member of other professional organizations and engages in activities that advance the profession and public education. The nominee speaks out on behalf of public education, educators, and students. (15 points)
  3. Attention to Equity and Diversity: The nominee works to provide a learning environment that meets the needs of all students, regardless of differences. The nominee recognizes and explicitly addresses the full array of values, cultures, and experiences represented in our diverse modern society, through varied interactions with students. (10 points)
  4. Community Engagement: The nominee is intentional, engaging family and community resources to enhance student learning and student success. (5 points)
  5. Leadership in Professional Development: The nominee continually engages in experiences to improve his or her practice and to gain new skills and knowledge. The nominee shares this new learning with colleagues in effective ways. The nominee’s participation in and commitment to professional development has a visible impact on his or her institution, students, and community. (5 points)

Nomination packages must include all of the items listed below, in the specified order. Formatting instructions are noted for each section.

A. Data Sheet – The data sheet requests contact information for the state, federal, or direct affiliate; the nominee; and the nominee’s local affiliate. One page maximum. The form must be typed.

B. Nomination Letter – The nomination letter from the state, federal, or direct affiliate president explains why the nominee deserves the award. Alternatively, a local president can write the official nomination letter outlining the nominee’s qualifications and the state president can attach an additional page with one sentence certifying the nomination. Three pages maximum, double-spaced, 12-point or larger type. Must be on the Local Chapter affiliate letterhead and signed by the Local Chapter affiliate president.

C. Resume – The resume provides a brief, factual overview of the nominee’s career, including positions held, degrees attained, honors received, etc. The resume may also describe personal achievements or activities that are not noted elsewhere. Two pages maximum.

D. Nominee’s Statement -The nominee’s statement must be written by the nominee, as a first-person narrative. The statement includes specific examples to illustrate all five of the award criteria. The questions below do not need to be copied verbatim in the text. However, nominees are strongly encouraged to include headings or keywords related to the criteria to aid the panelists in their reading. 21,000 characters (about 3400 words) maximum, double-spaced, 12-point or larger type.

  1. How have you grown as an educator throughout your career? Cite several examples of ways you have developed your skills and/or adapted your practice over time. What strategies or methods do you use to support student learning and student success? How do you act as a leader?
  2. How has your involvement in the National Education Association or NEA affiliate(s) contributed to your success as an educator? How would you persuade a new colleague to join or become more active in the association? In what other ways do you serve as an advocate for the profession and for public education?
  3. Please describe how you have been intentional, engaging family and community resources to enhance student learning and student success. How do you build relationships with parents and community members?
  4. What experiences or activities have been most beneficial to your professional knowledge, skills, and practice? How have you contributed to the professional development of your colleagues? How has your professional growth made a difference for your school or university, your students, and your community? Include examples.
  5. How do you address issues of equity and diversity in your interactions with students? What is the result of such efforts? How does your approach to diversity affect your work?
  6. If you have not already done so, tell a story about how your work has made a difference for a student or a group of students.
  7. What advice would you give to someone entering the profession on how to attain excellence?

E. Letter of Endorsement – Letters of endorsement are written by the nominee’s local affiliate president, colleagues, current or former students, parents, or community members. Letters should be signed, and the salutation should address the state affiliate selection committee or the national selection panel for The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence.


Affiliate Level

Each affiliate determines its own best process for selecting its nominee, and submits a single nominee’s name and qualifications to the NEA Foundation, consistent with the criteria.

The state selection process can be based on the process used at the national level (see below) or another alternative that reflects due diligence. A state affiliate cannot nominate the same educator more than once.

State leadership may consider nominating the recipient of another local, district, state, or national award—including subject specific awards, advocacy awards, or national awards like the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching, provided that the awardee is a NEA member.

National Level

The national selection panel chooses the five recipients of The Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence from among the affiliate awardees. Panelists are appointed by the NEA President and the President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. The Horace Mann awardees will be invited for personal interviews with the national selection panel in August 2021 and based on the interviews, The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence recipient will be chosen.


A) Data Sheet  — 1 page

B) Nomination Letter — 3 pages maximum

C) Resume/Biography — 2 pages maximum

D) Nominee’s Statement — 21,000 characters (about 3400 words) max.

E) Letters of Endorsement — 6 pages maximum (3 letters, 2 pages each)

F) Photo Release Form — 1 page maximum

*A total of 17 pages maximum


  • Do not staple or permanently bind the materials.
  • Paper clips are acceptable.
  • Do not use covers or other decorative packaging. Include only the materials requested in these guidelines.
  • Mail one complete nomination package to:
    California Teachers Association
    Attn: Annette Barroso
    P.O. Box 921
    Burlingame, CA 94011-0921

Deadline: The Monday, February 8, 2021 deadline has passed.


E-mail Annette Barroso at