September 06, 2012

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

Distinguished panel of experts to help award $220,000 in grants and scholarships to
outstanding students & nonprofit organizations in South Florida

Wellesley, Mass. (September 6, 2012) –The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE:SLF, TSX:SLF) and the Miami Dolphins today announced that wide receiver Davone Bess and center Mike Pouncey are among the ten South Florida community and education leaders who will serve as judges for the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, the financial services company’s signature national philanthropic initiative and educational cornerstone program of the Miami Dolphins Foundation.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provides financial resources and education to students and nonprofit organizations and promotes financial literacy as a means to achieve lifelong financial wellness and stability. The judges will help Sun Life award $220,000 in grants and scholarships to exemplary South Florida students and nonprofit organizations committed to enhancing educational opportunities for under-served youth. Each winning organization receives a $50,000 grant and selects an exemplary student they work with to receive a $5,000 college scholarship. Sun Life has granted nearly $3 million dollars to 54 students and 47 nonprofit organizations across the country.

The distinguished panel is comprised of some of South Florida’s foremost education, community and business leaders, government officials, philanthropists and other local activists. Bess has played a significant role in the last 2 years of the 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. Judges include:

  • Davone Bess, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
  • James Champion, President, Champion Services Group
  • Mary Chance, Executive Director, Consortium of Florida Education Foundations
  • Ada Cole, Local Philanthropist
  • Judy Green, President, The Florida College System Foundation
  • Heather Leck, CEO, Corporate Benefit Advisors, LLC
  • Stacy Ostrau, “Society Scene” Publisher, Sun Sentinel
  • Mike Pouncey, Center, Miami Dolphins
  • Rachel Sapoznik, President & CEO, Sapoznik Insurance & Associates, Inc.
  • Dr. Wallis Tinnie, Protocol Officer, City of Miami

“We are thrilled to have some of South Florida’s foremost community and education leaders help us select this year’s Sun Life Rising Star organizations from the pool of outstanding applications we’ve received,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson. “Their keen understanding of the local education landscape will be invaluable as we continue to create sustainable programming that promotes financial literacy and helps these incredibly talented and deserving students and organizations embark on a path to a sound financial future.”

This year, Sun Life Financial expanded the program to seven cities from five in 2011, and will award grants and scholarships to outstanding students and nonprofit organizations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and South Florida.

"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.”

Judges will evaluate applications and student nominations based on the following criteria:

  • Nonprofit’s commitment to developing and promoting skills that directly translate to educational engagement and matriculation rates for secondary school youth 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

In addition to monetary support, the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provides winning organizations with educational curriculum and resources to increase financial literacy among students. Sun Life recently partnered with dfree®, a movement developed by Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. to galvanize the public to overcome the culture of debt and attain financial self-sufficiency. As part of the partnership, Sun Life and dfree® will provide Sun Life Rising Star Award students and organizations with the Breaking Free Workbook, which includes interactive activities and evaluation tools to encourage debt-free living using the program’s core principles and financial strategies. Soaries will also address winning organizations and students at a series of educational seminars in select Sun Life Rising Star cities throughout the fall.

Sun Life will surprise winning students with their 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 18 and 19. The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program is the educational cornerstone program of the Miami Dolphins Foundation.

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. In the United States, Sun Life Financial provides a range of products and services to employers and their employees, including group and voluntary life, disability, dental and stop-loss insurance products. These products are issued by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada in all states except New York. In New York, these products are issued by Sun Life Insurance and Annuity Company of New York. Product offerings may not be available in all states and may vary depending on state laws and regulations. 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
Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 857-234-1481,

SLPC 24348 07/2012 (Exp. 07/2013)

Sun Life Rising Star Awards Program 2012 South Florida Judging Panel

Davone Bess
Bess is a star wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. Through hard work and perseverance, Bess became the first person in his family to attend college. He stays active in the community by participating in the Miami Dolphins Foundation Golf Tournament and the Foundation’s Kids Fishing Clinic, purchasing Thanksgiving meals and holiday toys for those in need, and visiting children at Kids In Distress. Bess also took part in the inaugural Miami Dolphins Touchdown For Life Blood Drive.

James Champion
Champion is the President of The Champion Services Group, a Human Resources and Management Consulting Firm. Champion serves on the Board of  Directors of a number of organizations in South Florida, such as the  Jackson Memorial Foundation and First Serve Miami, and is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management,  Association of Affirmative Action Professionals and Equal Employment  Advisory Council.

Mary Chance
Chance serves as President of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, the professional association for the local county education foundations that serve the 2.6 million public school students and 295,000 educators throughout Florida's 67 counties. The Consortium's mission is to advance K-12 student achievement in Florida by increasing capacity and resources of member local foundations in partnership with key stakeholders. Mary Chance resides in Gainesville, Florida.

Ada Cole
Cole is a local philanthropist and has more than twenty-five years experience in organizational development, management and leadership with private, public and non-profit organizations. Currently, Cole is a member of Mo Homes LLC and Riverbend LLC, real estate development companies. Before relocating to Ft. Lauderdale, Cole served on the Board of Port Commissioners, Port of Oakland, where she chaired the Aviation Committee of the Oakland Airport.

Judy Green
Green is President of The Florida College System Foundation, which awards almost $900,000 in scholarships annually to college students throughout Florida. The Foundation also provides program support services to the Florida College System and Division of Florida Colleges and in 2011, provided scholarships to more than 1,200 students in the Florida College System. Ms. Green works closely with Florida’s 28 colleges, their Presidents and the Foundation Offices.

Heather Leck
Heather Leck is the CEO of Corporate Benefit Advisors, LLC (CBA), headquartered in Delray Beach, FL.   CBA  specializes in maximizing our clients’ corporate benefit programs through our well-being, employee engagement, compliance, and human capital initiatives.  Heather has over 25 years of employee benefit experience, and her team represents over 225 years of collective experience.   She grew up in New England and is a graduate of the University of Vermont.   She enjoys spending her free time in the mountains of Colorado with her family.

Stacy Ostrau
Ostrau is the Society Scene Publisher for the Sun Sentinel and has 18 years experience in marketing and public relations, spending the last 13 years with the Sun Sentinel. At the Sun Sentinel, she is also Director of the Sun Sentinel Children’s Fund. Sun Sentinel and Sun Sentinel Children’s Fund have provided extensive community support including sponsorship, in-kind and grant support to hundreds of community groups in South Florida.

Mike Pouncey
A second-year center from the University of Florida, Mike Pouncey is one of the team leaders, starting all 16 games last year as a rookie. Mike and his twin brother, Maurkice, who plays with the Pittsburgh Steelers, overcame tough odds to excel both on and off the field. Pouncey is also heavily involved in the team’s community service efforts, including Fins Weekend, the Fins and Kids Back to School kickoff and meal drives. 

Rachel Sapoznik
Sapoznik is the founder, President and CEO of Sapoznik Insurance & Associates, Inc. Sapoznik Insurance is an Employee Benefits Agency and is regarded as one of the largest Insurance Agencies in Florida. Sapoznik is an active force for organizations that provide women with the tools to succeed and those that assist abused women and children. She was awarded the “Distinguished Citizen Award” from the City of Miami Beach and “Impressive Citizen Award” by City of North Miami Beach in 2010.

Dr. Wallis Tinnie
Dr. Tinnie is Protocol Officer for the City of Miami, working in close cooperation with the Mayor, the five Commissioners and the City Manager, and is Professor Emerita of Miami-Dade College. As a volunteer executive director of  two nonprofit organizations, the African American Caribbean Cultural Arts Commission, Inc. and Imani Um Nommo Writers Workshop, Dr. Tinnie has introduced many cultural initiatives and ground-breaking presentations to Miami, including the Pan African Bookfest and Cultural Conference.