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September 15, 2011

Prominent Detroit Community & Education Leaders to Serve as Sun Life Rising Star Awards Program Judges

Distinguished panel of experts to help award more than $165,000 in grants and scholarships to youth & nonprofit organizations in large urban school districts across Detroit

Wellesley, MA (September 15, 2011) – Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced that eight prominent Detroit community and education leaders will serve as judges for the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, the financial services company’s national philanthropic initiative. The judges will help Sun Life award more than $165,000 in grants and scholarships to Detroit youth and nonprofit organizations to reduce the achievement gap faced by low-income students. In 2011, Sun Life will invest more than $1 million to outstanding students and nonprofit organizations affiliated with large urban school districts across the country, including Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and South Florida.

The distinguished panel includes Detroit Office of the Mayor Youth Engagement Officer Zenobia Awada; Towers Watson Account Director Gary Cumpata; Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan Director of Education Initiatives Amy DeWys-VanHecke; Arthur J. Gallagher & co. Regional President Bryan Hirn; Governor's Office of Michigan Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives Director Harvey Hollins III; Detroit Public Schools Foundation President & CEO Chacona W. Johnson; University of Michigan School of Education Professor Susan Newman; and Kapnick Benefit Services President Steve Peck. The review board is comprised of some of Detroit’s foremost education and community leaders, philanthropists, financial advisors, city officials and local activists.

Now in its second year, the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program aims to address low high school graduation rates in large urban school districts by providing financial resources and education to students and nonprofit organizations committed to increasing success in high school and beyond, as well as promoting financial literacy as a means to achieve life-long financial wellness and stability. Each winning Detroit organization will receive a $50,000 grant, while an exemplary student nominated by each organization will receive a $5,000 Sun Life Rising Star scholarship towards financing a college education. In addition to monetary support, the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program will also work hand-in-hand with organizations and students to increase financial literacy with curriculum and resources.

Judges, who will participate in celebratory events and serve as Sun Life Rising Star Awards spokespeople, will evaluate applications and student nominations based on the following criteria:

  • Nonprofit’s commitment to developing and promoting skills that directly translate to educational success for students under the age of 21
  • Nonprofit’s demonstrated partnership with a secondary or post-secondary educational institution
  • Nonprofit’s documented ability to respond to the needs of specific groups of youth in a manner yielding measurable results
  • Student nominee’s plan to pursue post-secondary education, leadership qualities, commitment to his or her community, and a 750-word essay on how financial education contributes to future success

“We are thrilled to have some of Detroit’s foremost community and education leaders help us shape the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson. “Their keen understanding of the local educational landscape will be invaluable as we create sustainable programming that helps bridge the achievement gap by promoting financial literacy, a critical factor in helping our Rising Stars embark on the path towards a sound financial future.”

Sun Life will surprise winning students with their $5,000 scholarships at separate area award presentations with a Cirque du Soleil touch led by prominent local community members on October 13. Sun Life Financial is an Official Sponsor of the 2011 Cirque du Soleil Big Top and Arena Touring Shows.

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. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. Sun Life Financial Inc., the holding company for the Sun Life Financial group of companies, is a public company. It is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance products for sale in the United States or elsewhere, and does not guarantee the obligations of its insurance company subsidiaries. Product offerings may not be available in all states and may vary depending on state laws and regulations. As of June 30, 2011, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of US $492 billion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com/us.  Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Media contacts

Alexi Maravel, Sun Life Financial, 781-446-1624, alexi.maravel@sunlife.com
Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 857-234-1481, kgainsboro@elevatecom.com

SLPC 23686 09/2011 (exp. 09/2016)