November 06, 2013

Celtics Star Rajon Rondo, Co-owner Steve Pagliuca and Sun Life Financial Present $110,000 to Boston Nonprofits and Rising Star Students at Pre-game Ceremony

Bottom Line and Brookview House honored for commitment to education at TD Garden before Celtics vs. Jazz game

Wellesley, Mass. (November 6, 2013) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced the Boston recipients of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards. The financial services organization awarded $110,000 in grants and scholarships to two community organizations: Bottom Line and Brookview House, as well as exemplary students nominated by each nonprofit: Aylin Garcia Soto and Melvin Harrison.

Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca and Rajon Rondo helped Sun Life Regional Group Manager Stephen Reynolds and Sun Life Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader Tyler Thims surprise the students with their scholarships at a special presentation prior to the Celtics vs. Jazz game at TD Garden. Sun Life has been a sponsor of the Boston Celtics since 2010.

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.

The winners were treated to a meet and greet with Pagliuca and Rondo and watched the game from a luxury suite with their families and friends. Pagliuca served on this year’s Rising Star judging panel for the second time, along with other prominent local business and community members.

“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.

“It is an honor to join Sun Life in recognizing these incredible students and community organizations for their tireless efforts and commitment to bettering the lives of under-served youth in Boston,” said Pagliuca.

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 youth 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 youth in a manner 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:

  • Darren Ambler, Managing Director, Insight Insurance Agency
  • Lisa Carrier, Media & Political Affairs Officer, Canadian Consulate General in Boston
  • Jamison Coyle, Sports Anchor, NESN
  • Daphne Griffin, Chief of Human Services, City of Boston & Executive Director, Boston Centers for Youth & Families
  • Chris Mayer, Publisher, The Boston Globe
  • Steve Pagliuca, Co-Owner, Boston Celtics
  • Heather Rowan-Kenyon, PhD., Associate Professor, Lynch School of Education at Boston College
  • Kevin Ryan, Principal, Longfellow Benefits
  • Jon Trevisan, Senior Vice President, Director of Placement, Willis Human Capital Practice


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.

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

Bottom Line – Founded in 1997, Bottom Line helps low-income, first-generation students get in to college, graduate from college, and go far in life. This year, Bottom Line is providing one-on-one support to more than 2,300 high school and college students across Massachusetts. Through their Access Program, 98% of Bottom Line’s high school seniors have been accepted to college and, through their Success Program, 76% of Bottom Line’s college students have graduated in six years or less – more than double the national average of low-income, first-generation students.

Student Recipient: Aylin Garcia Soto, John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science

Aylin is a volunteer mentor and supervisor for the FIRST Lego League middle school, teaching the students, helping them learn how to solve problems and supervising their Lego robotic construction projects. She is ranked 2nd in her class of more than 250 students. Aylin plays lead guitar in a five-person Jazz Combo and the group has won over a dozen awards and medals for their musicianship. She is also a member of the O’Bryant Asian Culture Club and Treasurer of Math Club.

Brookview House Established in 1990, the agency’s mission is to help homeless and at risk families learn the skills necessary to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. With sites in Roxbury and Dorchester, their model provides a safe community setting with customized services for both Moms and their children to help them develop the skills and core values they need to succeed.

Student Recipient: Melvin Harrison, Boston Day & Evening Academy

Melvin participates in Spread the Word campaigns, and also facilitates mental health, alcohol/substance abuse and domestic violence awareness and prevention workshops to homeless youth in the greater Boston area. Melvin’s goal is to obtain a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology/Mechanical engineering. Melvin is involved with many extra-curricular activities at school including cooking classes and business club.


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. 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.

About the Boston Celtics

A charter member of the Basketball Association of America (which evolved into the National Basketball Association) since 1946, the Boston Celtics have won a record 17 NBA Championships, including eight (8) in a row from 1959-1966, and have won NBA titles in three different eras. In addition, 32 former Celtics players, management or staff have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In December 2002 the team returned to local ownership for the first time since 1963. For more information on the Celtics, log on to


Media contact: 
Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 617-895-7905,
Heather Walker, Boston Celtics, 617-594-4453,

SLPC 25425 11/13 (Exp. 11/18)