February 16, 2011

Sun Life Financial Names CA Student and FL Nonprofit National Sun Life Rising Stars; Awarded $50K Each for Achievements, and Commitment to At-Risk Youth Education

Priscilla Elizalde of San Diego, CA, and HANDY, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, FL win highest honors

Wellesley, MA (February 16, 2011) – The U.S. division of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced that Priscilla Elizalde, a San Diego, California graduate of Kearny High School’s Construction Tech Academy, and HANDY, Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Florida nonprofit organization, won the first annual National Sun Life Rising Star Awards. Sun Life awarded Ms. Elizalde, now a freshman at San José State University, $50,000 toward college tuition, and HANDY, Inc. a Broward County, Florida, nonprofit, $50,000 in grants, the highest honors of its Sun Life Rising Star Awards program. In 2010, the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provided over $1 million in grants and scholarships – $5,000 each to 22 at-risk youth, who overcame the odds to further their education, and $50,000 each to 22 supporting nonprofits -- in Boston, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, and South Florida.

All student winners were then invited to enter the National Sun Life Rising Star competition, writing an essay that: recounted how their life experiences shaped their goals and ambitions; described their plans to succeed in post-secondary education; and offered practical advice to other at-risk students. The nonprofit winners entered a separate contest, describing how they would utilize an additional $50,000 to support at-risk youth.

For her student submission, Ms. Elizalde wrote a moving portrayal chronicling her experience amongst close friends, who succumbed to a life of gangs, teenage pregnancy, drugs or crime. Against all odds, she committed herself to attaining a post-secondary education. When told that she would never meet the academic requirements to attend a four-year university, she embarked on a rigorous twice-a-day tutoring program, supplemented by comprehensive evening studies at the Barrio Logan College Institute, a San Diego nonprofit organization that helps students develop the skills, knowledge, and motivation to go to college.

HANDY, Inc. (Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth), won the nonprofit National Sun Life Rising Star Award by describing the success and potential of its programs, which provide foster children with safety and well-being education, offer social and recreational activities, and advocate for the rights of foster children in Broward County, Florida. Devoting personal attention to each child, HANDY has delivered remarkable results: 98% of participants graduate from high school, and 100% of its high school graduates enroll in college.

The two national winners were selected by Sun Life’s National Advisory Board, a panel of distinguished education authorities. Board members included Ted Beck, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE); Jason R. Klugman, director of the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP); Deborah Long, director of the Elon Academy; Catherine M. Millett, senior research scientist in the Policy Evaluation and Research Center at Educational Testing Service; and Steven H. Prigohzy, education advocate and developer of one of the country’s first open magnet schools.

“Sun Life Financial is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for America’s at-risk youth,” said Wes Thompson, President, Sun Life Financial U.S. “Ms. Elizalde’s courageous resolve to overcome adversity, and HANDY, Inc.’s extraordinary success in helping at-risk youth, warrant their selection as our first National Sun Life National Rising Star Award winners.”

The announcement of the National Sun Life Rising Star Awards ushers this month’s Sun Life Rising Star Awards National Summit, which takes place February 25-26 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fl. The Summit will provide a forum to address the lagging high school graduation rates of at-risk youth. In addition to key stakeholders such as nationally renowned education experts, students, and representatives from the non-profit and corporate sectors, attendees include: Wes Thompson, President, Sun Life Financial U.S., who will deliver opening remarks; Davone Bess, Wide Receiver for the Miami Dolphins; and tennis champ Venus Williams, who will present the keynote address.

Attendees will discuss how to improve the success of at-risk youth in post-secondary and secondary education. Non-profits will share best practices, such as incorporating college planning into existing community or education programs, and helping at-risk students utilize career services programs. Specific discussion themes will include “Sharing College Experiences: Lessons Learned, Expectations & Anxieties and Building Educational Goals,” led by Board member Jason Klugman of Princeton; “Train the Trainer: How to Incorporate Financial Literacy into Existing Community/Education Programs,” led by Susan Sharkey of NEFE; and “Challenges to Evaluation: Best Practices on Collecting, Analyzing and Reporting Data,” led by Board members Catherine Millet and Deborah Long.

For more information on the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program and the Sun Life Rising Star Awards National Summit, see

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 September 30, 2010, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $442 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.

Media contact: 
Tim Stone, Sun Life Financial, 781-416-2185,
Keith Gainsboro, Elevate Communications, 857-234-1481,