December 03, 2013

Chicago Bulls Star Jimmy Butler and Sun Life Financial Present $110,000 in Grants & Scholarships to Chicago Nonprofits & Rising Star Students at Pro Basketball Clinic

OneGoal and Christopher House among 16 exceptional organizations across U.S. to receive Sun Life Rising Star Award for commitment to education

Chicago (December 3, 2013) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced the Chicago recipients of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards. The financial services organization awarded $110,000 in grants and scholarships to two nonprofit community organizations: OneGoal and Christopher House, as well as an exemplary student nominated by each: Jessica Zamudio and Elizabeth Pena.

Chicago Bulls Guard Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls Assistant Coach Ed Pinckney and basketball legend Bill Cartwright helped Sun Life Regional Group Manager Michael Techtmann and Sun Life Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader Stephen Barreca surprise the winning students at a private basketball clinic where Butler led 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:

  • 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:

  • Roland Birkner, Vice President and Chief Underwriter, Willis Human Capital Placement Practice
  • Karen Chadwick, Vice President, Insurance Services Division, Mesirow Financial
  • Fred Figge, Vice President Carrier Relationships, Arthur J. Gallagher and Co.
  • Tina Santelli, Vice President of Specialty Benefits, GCG Financial
  • Paul Verkoulen, Area Senior Vice President, Arthur J. Gallagher and Co.
  • Scott A. Welch, Sr. Vice President, Employee Benefits Practice
  • Paige Wenk, President of School Board, Non-for-profit school
  • Marie Whitney, Founder, Two Penny Blue
  • Victoria Willer, Founder and President, Reviresco Consulting

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.


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

OneGoal is a rapidly expanding college persistence organization working to shift expectations for students growing up in low-income communities and make college graduation an attainable opportunity for all. OneGoal is purposefully focused on achieving college graduation for students and provides the critical resources, structure and support to ensure that they are equipped with the tools and skill sets to become successful college graduates.

Student Recipient: Jessica Zamudio, Eric Solorio Academy High School
Jessica participated and excelled at a community action project with fellow students at her high school. She was tasked with educating the community in US citizen’s rights and how to use them. Jessica reached out to community members, and even created Spanish materials to make sure there were no barriers between community members and the information. In addition to being a good student and community activist, Jessica also has a passion for the arts and believes in incorporating beauty and art into everything she does.

Christopher House
Christopher House is a family of schools providing low-income children and their parents with quality educational and support programs that prepare them for success in life, school, and the workplace. They partner with families to provide quality schools and educational programs for parents. Data-driven decision making and a commitment to continuous quality improvement for students, families are the driving forces behind all of Christopher House’s work.

Student Recipient: Elizabeth Pena, Prosser Career Academy
Elizabeth holds a variety of leadership roles at Christopher House including being an active member of the Youth Council advisory board where she suggests program improvements and plans events and outings for students and families. She participated in the Christopher House summer program, facilitating activities with groups of youth as they explored careers and colleges related to the sciences. Elizabeth is a Peer Leader where she is responsible for guiding and encouraging younger girls to push past their fears and overcome challenges.


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 25521 12/13 (Exp. 12/18)