September 05, 2013

Pelicans Forward Al-Farouq Aminu and Sun Life Financial Present $110,000 in Grants and Scholarships to Nashville Nonprofits and Rising Star Students at Pro Basketball Clinic

Oasis Center and Salama Urban Ministries among 16 exceptional organizations across U.S. to receive Sun Life Rising Star Award for commitment to education

Wellesley, MA (September 5, 2013) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced the Nashville recipients of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards. The financial services organization awarded $110,000 in grants and scholarships to two nonprofit community organizations: Oasis Center and Salama Urban Ministries, as well as an exemplary student nominated by each: DeShawne Trimble and Cierra Swinger.

New Orleans Pelicans Forward Al-Farouq Aminu helped Sun Life executives surprise the winning students at a private basketball clinic at Montgomery Bell Academy where the star forward led more than 60 youth from both nonprofits in a variety of basketball drills and games.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provides financial resources to highly-motivated students and nonprofit organizations in large urban school districts committed to encouraging underserved youth to stay in school. The program, now in its fourth year, also promotes the importance of higher education as a means to achieve lifelong financial wellness.

Each Rising Star organization received a $50,000 grant and each student winner received a $5,000 scholarship towards a college education. This year, Sun Life will provide nearly $1 million in grants, scholarships and other resources to outstanding organizations and students in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Nashville and South Florida.  By the end of 2013, Sun Life will have invested nearly $4 million to recognize a total of 70 students and 63 nonprofit organizations in 14 U.S. cities, since launching the program in 2010.

“We are proud to invest in America’s youth, our education system and the workforce of tomorrow through our Sun Life Rising Star Awards program,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson. “It is inspiring to see the tireless and selfless dedication of these impressive young adults, and we look forward to following their successes through college and beyond.”

Sun Life continues to support the students following their scholarship awards with various educational events and programs. Each year, Sun Life invites Rising Star recipients to apply for summer internship opportunities at its U.S. headquarters in Wellesley, Massachusetts following their freshman year of college. The goal is to provide a substantial, meaningful work experience that lays the foundation for future professional success. In 2013 Sun Life sponsored a trip for 17 past award winners to attend and participate in the America’s Promise Alliance “Building a Grad Nation” Summit in Washington D.C. Sun Life served as the first-ever sponsor of the Youth Experience Pre-Conference, which convened more than 100 students from across the country to examine the progress and remaining challenges in the nation’s effort to help more youth graduate high school with the skills necessary to succeed in college and professionally.

In each city, a judging panel comprised of the foremost government officials, community, education and business leaders evaluate the applications and student nominations based on the following criteria:

Nonprofit’s commitment to developing and promoting skills that directly translate to education engagement and matriculation rates for secondary school young under age 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 or young in a matter yielding measurable results
  • Student nominee’s plan to pursue a post-secondary education, leadership qualities, commitment to his or her community, and a 750-word essay on what they love most about their lives and what they do to protect it

This year’s panel included:

  • Becky Blair, Vice President & Regional Store Manager, Belk
  • Heath Holt, Senior Vice President, Willis of Tennessee
  • Austin Madison, Vice President, The Crichton Group
  • David Massey, Senior Vice President Employee Benefits, Brown & Brown Insurance
  • Barbara Stengel, Professor of the Practice & Director of Secondary Ed, Peabody College of Education & Human Development, Vanderbilt University

To help support the program, Sun Life leverages its partnerships with top-tier organizations such as the Boston Celtics and the Miami Dolphins to enhance the student experience and raise awareness about the importance of education in our society’s future.

Nashville’s 2013 Sun Life Rising Star Award winners are:

Oasis Center

Oasis Center was founded in 1969 to address the alcohol and drug issues of runaway and homeless youth in Nashville, TN. Over the past forty-plus years Oasis Center has grown into a nationally recognized youth development organization, utilizing evidenced-based models of support to help youth successfully transition to adults and learn to thrive.

DeShawne Trimble, Hume-Fogg Academic High School

  • DeShawne advocates for and participates in the creation of the Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities in comprehensive schools.
  • He is a camp counselor for Building Bridges where he facilitates conversations around diversity and school climate with his peers.
  • He is also a powerful role model in the lives of his eight siblings who he helps with everything from homework to purchasing school and household items with any money he earns, to simply being there to support his brothers and sisters as the eldest of the family.

Salama Urban Ministries

Salama Urban Ministries uses a comprehensive, year-round enrichment program model to help change the trajectory of students’ lives. Now in its 28th year of service, Salama (Swahili for “peace”) has impacted the lives of nearly 2,000 low-income families by equipping their children with the skills and values needed for success in life.

Cierra Swinger, Nashville Big Picture High School

  • Cierra provides volunteer childcare at her church and has participated in a student service organization at her school that regularly serves the homeless.
  • Cierra is leading an organizational project for the Salama costume shop to help create a profitable venture for the Salama Institute. 
  • Her desire to improve the community is perhaps best exemplified by her hopes to enter college as a pre-med student, and eventually become a doctor.


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. 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, 617-895-7905,

SLPC 25297 09/13 (Exp. 09/18)