Sun Life Rising Star Awards Program Gives $165,000 in Grants and Scholarships to Philadelphia-Area Nonprofit Organizations and Three Outstanding High School Seniors

Date: 
November 4, 2010

Awards program recognizes Philadelphia Futures, Urban Affairs Coalition, LEAD, and Three Remarkable Students Who Overcame the Odds to Stay in School

The U.S. division of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced the winners of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program in Philadelphia. Sun Life Financial awarded a total of $165,000 in scholarships and grants to three nonprofit organizations for their commitment to providing academic opportunities to at-risk youth, and to an exemplary student nominated by each organization. The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program recognizes and provides resources to high school students who have overcome the odds and remained committed to furthering their education as well as the nonprofit organizations that advocate on their behalf.

Each nonprofit organization will receive a $50,000 grant along with training, materials and the curriculum infrastructure necessary to develop and provide financial education for the youth in its program. Additionally, each student will receive a $5,000 scholarship to help finance a post-secondary education.

Philadelphia is the final city among the seven cities the Sun Life Rising Star Award Program visited in 2010. The awards program gave away a total of $1,000,000 in grants and scholarships; all winning organizations will be invited to compete for the National Sun Life Rising Star Award in an effort to earn an additional $50,000 grant to further their mission. Winning students are invited to enter an essay competition in which one student will be selected as the National Sun Life Rising Star award winner and receive a scholarship worth up to $50,000 payable over four years to the educational institution of their choice. The national award winners will be announced in February 2011.

A recent financial fitness study of at-risk youth and their parents, commissioned by Sun Life Financial, revealed that families and students alike face tremendous barriers when seeking to enter college, with 72 percent of parents and 63 percent of students stating that college costs are unaffordable. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. students do not graduate from high school, and only half of those are prepared to succeed in college, career, and life. Sun Life Financial recognizes the challenges facing today's students and is dedicated to helping improve educational opportunities for the nation's at-risk youth.

"Sun Life Financial is committed to the communities where it does business and we are honored to recognize these outstanding organizations and students who care so deeply about their communities as Sun Life Rising Stars," said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson.

Representatives of Sun Life Rising Star Awards program surprised each student with their scholarship award at two separate Philadelphia-area events.

Following is a list of the Philadelphia-area Sun Life Rising Star Awards program non-profit organization grant and student scholarship recipients:

Philadelphia Futures - For twenty years, Philadelphia Futures' award-winning college access and retention program, Sponsor-A-Scholar, has helped make the dream of college a reality for low-income Philadelphia students. The program has served more than one thousand disadvantaged students attending Philadelphia's most under-performing neighborhood high schools.

Philadelphia Futures Student Award Recipient: Bintu Sherif, Motivation High School

  • Bintu has been an active member of the Philadelphia Futures Sponsor-A-Scholar Program since her freshman year of high school.
    Pursuing every opportunity for academic growth, Bintu is deeply involved in school activities including her role as Senior Class President and her participation in National Honor Society, Model United Nations, Dove, the Drum Club, and the Line Dancing Club.
    In addition to her school involvement, Bintu also serves the broader Philadelphia community having participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

Urban Affairs Coalition - The Coalition's Driver's Seat Project will serve 20 economically disadvantaged youth from low-income households in Philadelphia. The program will provide resources to students interested in starting their own businesses by providing them with opportunities to build work skills, while at the same time helping students to understand career development and the planning process.

Urban Affairs Coalition Student Recipient: David Buckholtz, Science Leadership Academy

  • David has extremely active in the Urban Affairs Coalition programming and has been a youth intern in their Summer Career Exploration Internships Program for the past three years. For seven years, David has been a part of the Partnership for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science program at the Franklin Institute, where he was recently hired as a WorkReady Summer Youth Employee. An avid volunteer, David works with the Philadelphia School District to mentor younger youth and is the Robotics Education Specialist/Coordinator for the LEGO League Robotics Club.

Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) - LEAD's mission is to enable youth of diverse backgrounds to convert high potential into high achievement and responsible leadership. The program accomplishes its mission by selecting student "LEADers" who earn the opportunity to attend an intensive summer residency educational program at a top-tier university. The program is designed to challenge students and inspire them to choose careers in business or engineering.

LEAD Student Award Recipient: Fernando Morales, Cypress Ridge High School

  • Fernando was part of the 2010 LEAD Summer Business Institute at Duke University Fuqua School of Business, where he participated alongside peers from throughout the country to explore business careers. An active member of his community, Fernando volunteers with the National Hispanic Institute to promote the advancement of young leadership in the community.
    Fernando will attend Duke University to pursue a career in Marketing.


Both the nonprofit and student winners will be recognized at a special ceremony on Friday, November 5th at City Hall. In recognition of the Philadelphia nonprofit and student winners Mayor Michael Nutter issued a citation recognizing the program and its impact on the Philadelphia community.

An independent panel of judges comprised of local Philadelphia community leaders selected the winning organizations. Local judges include Jennifer Cleghorn, Special Assistant, Pennsylvania Department of Education; Clay Armbrister, Chief of Staff, Office of the Philadelphia Mayor; Catherine Murphy, Managing Director, Berwind Family Trust; Christina Weiss Lurie, President, Philadelphia Eagles; Dr. Constance Clayton, former superintendent for Philadelphia schools, and Henri Moore, Senior Vice President, Director of Public Affairs, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania.

For more information on the Sun Life Rising Star Awards, please visit www.sunliferisingstar.com.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of June 30, 2010, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $407.8 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Media contact: Diane Johnson, Tierney, 610-212-0381, djohnson@tierneyagency.com