November 07, 2011

Sun Life Financial Recognizes Los Angeles Nonprofits and Three College-bound High School Seniors as Sun Life Rising Stars; Present $165,000 in Grants and Scholarships

Social Justice Learning Institute, WriteGirl, Youth Mentoring Connection & remarkable studentshonored at Cirque du Soleil-themed surprise award presentations at iconic Kodak Theatre

Wellesley, MA (November 7, 2011) – Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced Los Angeles’ Sun Life Rising Star Awards program winners. The financial services company awarded a total of $165,000 in grants and scholarships to three youth-oriented nonprofits and to an exemplary student nominated by each organization. The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program aims to address low high school graduation rates in large urban school districts by providing financial and educational resources to students and nonprofit organizations committed to increasing success in high school and beyond. The program, now in its second year, also seeks to promote financial literacy as a means to achieve life-long financial wellness and stability.

Each winning organization will receive a $50,000 grant, while each student nominee will receive a $5,000 Sun Life Rising Star scholarship towards financing a college education. In addition to monetary support, Sun Life will collaborate with the organizations to increase financial literacy through curriculum and educational resources. 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.

“Access to quality education for all is critical to our country’s future, and that’s why it’s a priority for Sun Life to continue investing in and improving the lives of students who are committed to furthering their education,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson. “We are proud to reward our amazing Rising Star students for their perseverance in the face of adversity. It is our firm belief that they need only opportunity and a little support to rise to their potential.”

Sun Life surprised winning students with their $5,000 scholarships at a Cirque du Soleil-themed awards presentation led by prominent local community members at the home of the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theatre. The students were greeted by costumed performers as they walked the red carpet, received an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Theatre and participated in a special juggling training workshop where they performed their new skills for their peers. On November 9, the winning students and nonprofit organizations will enjoy a VIP pre-show reception and tickets to IRISA Journey Through the World of Cinema™, the new Los Angeles production created by Cirque du Soleil®.  Sun Life is Presenting Sponsor of IRIS and an Official Sponsor of the 2011 Cirque du Soleil Big Top and Arena Touring Shows.

The winning Sun Life Rising Star organizations were selected by a six-person judging panel comprised of some of Los Angeles’ foremost education and community leaders, philanthropists, financial advisors, city officials and local activists 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

The 2011 Los Angeles Sun Life Rising Star Awards program winners include:

Social Justice Learning Institute – Social Justice Learning Institute empowers youth to take hold of their educational future by training them to conduct research on problems in their community and by providing basic academic support and college preparatory education.

Student Recipient: Kriss’Shon Day, Morningside HS

  • Kriss’Shon has helped plan activities that foster greater access to healthy, affordable, locally grown, organic and culturally relevant foods for residents in the City of Inglewood and throughout the South Bay.
  • He has been present for every community-based activity that the Social Justice Learning Institute has executed.
  • Throughout his senior year, Kriss’Shon is planning to help build 100 gardens in schools, homes and communities in Los Angeles, as well as coordinate a Unity Day to address the issues of Black and Brown violence in local schools.
  • Kriss’Shon plans to attend California State University-Chico where he hopes to study business or criminal justice.


WriteGirl – WriteGirl is a nonprofit organization for high school girls centered on the craft of creative writing and empowerment through self-expression. Through one-on-one mentoring and monthly workshops, girls are given techniques, insights and hot tips for great writing in all genres from professional women writers.

Student Recipient: Majah Carberry, Alexander Hamilton HS Academy of Music

  • Majah is a highly creative dancer, experienced, classically-trained actor/musical theater performer, and extraordinary writer whose work has been widely published in award-winning books.
  • As a dancer, Majah has trained with two of the most prestigious programs in the country – The Debbie Allen Dance Studio and the LuLu Washington Dance Studio.
  • As part of the WriteGirl program, she never hesitates to volunteer, to stand as a role model for younger participants, and to raise her voice to share her work and opinion.
  • Majah recently completed an internship with WriteGirl working alongside the Executive Director to learn about program development, fundraising, book publishing and marketing, organizational management, and event planning.


Youth Mentoring Connection – Youth Mentoring Connection awakens at-risk youth to their power, unique gifts and purpose by matching them with caring adult mentors and placing that “match” within a structured group dynamic that provides the resources youth need to reach productive, conscious adulthood.

Student Recipient: Daisy Martinez, Helen Bernstein HS

  • Daisy has been an active member of YMC's mentoring program with Paramount Pictures for the last two years.
  • With her positive attitude and strong sense of gratitude, Daisy has developed the confidence to seek and maintain a personal relationship with Paramount’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility.
  • After each school day, Daisy tutors kindergarten and elementary students in her community for an hour and a half.
  • Daisy’s dream is to attend UCLA and find a position in the entertainment industry, while still being able to mentor students by giving back to youth in her neighborhood.


The judging panel included: City National Bank Senior Vice President & Multicultural Strategy Manager Karen Clark; Hazzard Consulting Group Chief Executive Officer Jaleesa Hazzard; Warner Bros. Digital Distribution Manager of Strategic Partnerships Monique Kelley; Bank of America Senior Vice President & Community Relations Manager Michael Manigault; Office of Council President Eric Garcetti District Director Marta Segura, MPH; and Black Dot LLC Partner and General Manager Patricia Shields

For more information on the Sun Life Rising Star Awards, please visit

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, 2011, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of US $459 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 contacts
Alexi Maravel, Sun Life Financial, 781-446-1624,
Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 857-234-1481,

SLPC 23897 11/2011 (exp. 11/2013)