November 14, 2013

Atlanta Hawks Star Elton Brand and Sun Life Financial Present $110,000 in Grants & Scholarships to Atlanta Nonprofits & Rising Star Students at Pro Basketball Clinic

Raising Expectations and The Global Village Project among 16 exceptional organizations across U.S. to receive Sun Life Rising Star Award for commitment to education

Atlanta (November 14, 2013) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced the Atlanta recipients of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards. The financial services organization awarded $110,000 in grants and scholarships to two nonprofit community organizations: Raising Expectations and The Global Village Project, as well as an exemplary student nominated by each: Montavious Williams and Nura Mohammad.

Atlanta Hawks star Elton Brand and Basketball Legend Steve Smith helped Sun Life Regional Group Manager Kevin Kuzon and Sun Life Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader Michael Otis surprise the winning students at a private basketball clinic at Highland Athletic Club where the star forward, Stackhouse and Smith led more than 35 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 under-served 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:

  1. Nonprofit’s commitment to developing and promoting skills that directly translate to education engagement and matriculation rates for secondary school young under age 21
  2. Nonprofit’s demonstrated partnership with a secondary or post-secondary educational institution
  3. Nonprofit’s documented ability to respond to the needs of specific groups or young in a matter yielding measurable results
  4. 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:

  1. David Bottoms, Senior Vice President of Benefits, The Bottoms Group
  2. Linda Burns, CEO, The EDMAT Company
  3. Elizabeth B. Fields, Area Manager, Generali Employee Benefits
  4. Dennis O’Brien, MD., Founder and CEO, Integrated Life Center, Inc.
  5. Steve Smith, Atlanta Hawks Legend
  6. Keisha Taylor, Senior Marketing Manager, CNN Strategic Marketing
  7. Nieta Wigginton, Executive Director of Round of Applause

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.

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

Raising Expectations

Established in 1995, Raising Expectations is a youth development and prevention organization providing youth living in Atlanta’s most economically and socially challenged communities with high quality programs that develop the whole child. Their mission is to educate, engage and empower youth in challenging circumstances by providing them with opportunities to build strong academic skills, leadership skills and self-confidence.

Student Recipient: Montavious Williams, Booker T. Washington High School

Montavious is taking college courses at Georgia State University as a part of his high school’s voluntary Early College program. He has participated in Project GRAD for two summers, attends Raising Expectations’ STEMWARE programming three days per week during the school year, is an active member of Powerhouse of Deliverance Outreach Ministries and participated in summer Saturday SAT work sessions with the Luminaries Foundation at Georgia Tech. He has been enrolled and actively participating in Raising Expectations since the 6th grade. 

The Global Village Project

The Global Village Project is an accredited, special purpose school serving teenage girls who are refugees living in the metro Atlanta area.  The school offers a full day of instruction including an intensive literacy program, art and music instruction, transportation, lunch and an after-school enrichment program.  GVP also serves its alumnae who have completed the 2-3 year program through its mentor program, with the goal of ensuring educational success and offering additional enrichment activities to students as they continue along their educational pathways.

Student Recipient: Nura Mohamed, Clarkston High School

Nura is an alumna of the Global Village Project and actively involved with its mentor program.  She is also part of the Global Village Project Alumnae Leadership Group, helping GVP by speaking at events and translating for parents who do not speak English. At her high school, she is involved with the International Club and the Beta Club and is also president of both clubs this year. Nura is very passionate about her education as well as women’s education.


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

SLPC 25436 11/13 (Exp. 11/18)