May 10, 2013

DENVER, CO – May 10, 2013 – David Merage, successful entrepreneur and businessman, has been named a 2013 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient. David will be honored at the ceremony on Ellis Island on Saturday, May 11th. In conjunction with this prestigious honor and in recognition of David’s tremendous contributions, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has proclaimed May 11 as “David Merage Day” in Colorado.

David Merage created a new category of convenience food products when he founded Chef America and developed and distributed HOT POCKETS brand sandwiches. Mr. Merage continues as a very successful businessman and currently leads one of the largest and most diversified real estate and investment companies in the United States. Mr. Merage believes passionately in giving back to communities that have affected his life, and now leverages his success in business to heavily invest in improving early childhood education for thousands of American children.

Taking his knowledge of business and management, Mr. Merage and his wife, Laura Merage, formed the David and Laura Merage Foundation, whose mission is to promote self-sufficiency through education and community involvement. A proponent for education, especially early care and education, Mr. Merage focuses his philanthropic ventures on innovative solutions to improve the quality of child care and make high-quality care more accessible for our youngest children ages birth to 5 years old.

“Education empowers people, and gives people the tools that they need to succeed,” said Mr. Merage. “Our future generations should be a top priority for society. The goal is to get the best possible care and education for our children that we can.”

The Foundation’s U.S. flagship project, Early Learning VenturesSM, is focused on early care and education, and is poised to impact thousands of children domestically. Early Learning Ventures (ELV) is an innovative solution that is customized for the child care industry and helps child care providers to increase the quality of their programs, while reducing administrative costs, saving time and, thereby, making their businesses stronger and more sustainable. A network of strong nonprofit organizations, called ELV Alliances, act as streamlined, central hubs and provide technology and business supports and practices to center-based and family child care providers. This innovative model results in greater operational efficiencies among smaller, independent providers and allows them to provide care at a lower cost, thus making quality enhancements more economically feasible.

Mr. Merage is also a founding member of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC). EPIC is one of the most effective business-led early care and education advocacy groups in the country. This bi-partisan group represents thousands of Colorado workers, and works to harness the political and financial capital of Colorado’s business sector to ensure that all children develop into healthy, educated and productive citizens.

Mr. Merage is proud to be one of the recipients of the Ellis Island Medals Of Honor. Each year since 1986, NECO – whose mission is to advocate for positive change in the present, and to build strong leaders for the future – has honored our nation’s diverse past by sponsoring the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor annually pays tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s unique cultural mosaic. The Medals are presented on Ellis Island, in a dramatic ceremony, to American citizens of diverse origins for their outstanding contributions to their communities, their nation and the world.

Past Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients include six Presidents of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity. They are awarded annually to outstanding American citizens, from all walks of life, who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to this country. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation’s most prestigious awards. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record. To date, more than 1,800 American citizens have received Ellis Island Medals of Honor.

David Merage is passionate about giving back to the community and, together with his wife Laura, provides leadership to multiple philanthropic foundations. David is involved in managing 60 projects a year with flagship projects both domestically and internationally. Over the last 10 years, the Merage Foundations have positively impacted tens of thousands of people’s lives domestically and globally. Centered on the belief that education is the gateway to optimal life outcomes, the Merage Foundations are active in many initiatives, however, efforts are concentrated in three primary areas: Early Childhood Education, Arts and Culture, and Merage Israel.