About Us



Our Story

Where It All Began

In 2005, Ed Michaels was reading the newspaper when he came across a full-page announcement for awards given to the nation’s top scientists. The awards came with a $25,000 check for the scientists’ contributions to their various fields. Mr. Michaels came home and showed the announcement to his family, which had many educators of its own. He told them:

“We can’t have world-class scientists without world-class teachers. And we can’t have world-class teachers if we don’t show we value them. Why aren’t we as a city doing something to honor public school teachers?”

​Together, the Michaels family realized that instead of waiting for someone else to do something about public education in Atlanta, they as a family needed to act. And so began the first iteration of the Teach On Project – an organization that identifies and celebrates excellent educators in five Metro Atlanta public school districts and aims to improve the quality of education, raise the bar for teacher and leader performance, and increase student achievement in Metro Atlanta.


The first awards – originally called the Michaels Awards – were presented at a celebratory event at the Atlanta Speech School in November 2006. Ten educators were declared winners, each receiving a $4,000 prize, half for a school or classroom project they had proposed during the application process and half for their personal use.

After that night, the Michaels family quickly realized that their small foundation and family couldn’t sustain the awards alone, so they asked other like-minded families to join their mission. They also renamed the organization the Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education.


Grants & Impact


The Michaels Family Foundation has helped award 136 educators, impacting more than 31,000 students in Metro-Atlanta.





What We Offer

The Michaels Family Foundation aims to be great partners with grantees —
Sharing ideas, encouraging open communication, and fostering community partnerships.



Grant applications are accepted through an invitation only process.