August 25, 2011

Miami Dolphins Star Davone Bess, Prominent South Florida Community & Education Leaders to Serve as Sun Life Rising Star Awards Program Judges

Distinguished panel of experts to help award more than $220,000 in grants and scholarships to youth & nonprofit organizations in large urban school districts across South Florida

Wellesley, MA (August 25, 2011) – Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) and the Miami Dolphins today announced that nine prominent South Florida community and education leaders will serve as judges for the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, the financial services company’s signature national philanthropic initiative, now in its second year. The judges will help Sun Life award more than $220,000 in grants and scholarships to South Florida 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.

Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver Davone Bess will join a distinguished judging panel that includes Champion Services Group President and CEO James Champion; Consortium of Florida Education Foundations President Mary Chance; local philanthropist Ada Cole; Florida College System Foundation President Judy Green; Sun Sentinel “Society Scene” Publisher Stacy Ostrau; Sapoznik Insurance & Associates Founder, President and CEO Rachel Sapoznik; City of Miami Protocol Officer Dr. Wallis Tinnie and Jeanette Sparano, wife of Miami Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano. The review board is comprised of some of South Florida’s foremost education and community leaders, philanthropists, financial advisors, city officials and local activists. Bess played a significant role in last year’s program -- addressing students at the inaugural Sun Life Rising Star National Summit, volunteering to serve as a mentor to one of the winning students, and helping select the program scholarship recipients.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program improves the lives of under-served youth 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. Each winning South Florida 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. The program also seeks to promote financial literacy as a means to achieve long-term financial wellness and stability.

Judges, who will participate in celebratory events and serve as spokespeople for the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, have evaluated the finalists’ applications and student nominations submitted by South Florida nonprofit organizations 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 South Florida’s foremost community and education leaders help us shape the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program in South Florida,” 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 led by Miami Dolphins players, cheerleaders and front office staff, as well as prominent local community members on September 20 and 21. The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program is the educational cornerstone program of the Miami Dolphins Foundation.

"We're honored to have such a prominent group of judges from the South Florida community join Sun Life and the Miami Dolphins in recognizing these exceptional students and nonprofit organizations," said Miami Dolphins Chief Executive Officer Mike Dee. "These individuals understand the challenges facing our local students and their expertise and commitment to improving the lives of students is critical to helping us select this year’s honorees.”


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  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,

Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 857-234-1481,