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Mike Milken  

One of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century

Named one of the '75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century' by Esquire  magazine, Michael Milken is in his fourth decade of driving social change. It was in 1972, three years after Milken began a legendary career on Wall Street, when his wife told him her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. That marked the beginning of his search for medical solutions, which has played as large a role in his life as his better-known innovations in finance. Nearly 33 years after he began parallel careers in philanthropy and finance, Fortune magazine wrote, "No one had ever really pulled together the full picture of how - and how much - (Milken) has shaken up the medical establishment and saved lives." Fortune corrected that with a 2004 cover story under the headline The Man Who Changed Medicine.

In 1982, Milken formalized his previous philanthropy by co-founding the Milken Family Foundation which was to be endowed with several hundred million dollars. The Foundation has worked closely with more than 1,000 organizations around the world. Over the past three decades, it has supported extensive programs to help address difficult inner-city issues, assist families of children with cancer and build youth programs. It has also supported worldwide research on pediatric neurology, nutrition, leukemia, brain cancer and breast cancer. The MFF's most acclaimed program, the Milken Educator Awards, was established in 1985 and is now the largest teacher-recognition program in the U.S., operating in partnership with state departments of education across America. Dubbed the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, it has awarded approximately $60 million to honor more than 2,400 K-12 teachers and principals. Each educator receives an unrestricted $25,000 prize and participates in an annual professional-development conference. Nearly 100 new Milken Educators will be honored this year.

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