February 12, 2013

Sun Life, America's Promise Alliance Enlist Youth to Solve High School Dropout Crisis at "Building a Grad Nation" Summit

Sun Life Rising Star Award students head to nation’s capital to serve as youth committee leaders at nation’s premier annual event focused on improving high school graduation rates

Wellesley, Mass. (February 12, 2013) – The U.S. Business Group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE:SLF, TSX:SLF) and America’s Promise Alliance today announced the leading financial services company will serve as the first-ever title sponsor of the Youth Experience Pre-Conference, at the third annual “Building a Grad Nation” Summit on Sunday, February 24, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. General Colin Powell is the founding chairman of America’s Promise and Mrs. Alma Powell serves as Board Chair.

As the opener to America’s Promise Alliance’s prestigious three-day Summit, the Youth Experience Pre-Conference convenes more than 75 students, ages 13-25, 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 career. Currently, one in four students drop out before completing high school -- that’s more than one million students a year.

Eleven outstanding students, including Sun Life Rising Star Award winners Kimi Farrington (South Florida, 2012), Kriss’Shon Day (Los Angeles, 2011) and David Buckholtz (Philadelphia, 2010), will lead the pre-conference Youth Committee. The three Rising Star Award winners will join the group of 8 other young people hand-picked from communities across America to participate on the Youth Committee, which will plan and implement a strategy to leverage youth involvement in the Summit. The committee will facilitate and manage the workshop sessions and help youth participants develop personal action plans to take back to their communities. They will also receive a special tour of the nation’s capital and participate in a post-summit follow-up session.

“General and Mrs. Powell are two of the nation’s leading advocates for America’s youth, and Sun Life is extremely proud to join with America’s Promise to provide these outstanding students the opportunity to add their voices to the conversation on increasing high school graduation rates,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson. “The experience and success of these young people in overcoming significant obstacles to continue their post-secondary education will be invaluable in helping America’s Promise achieve its objective of improving the lives of our nation’s children.”

Rising Stars Award student scholarship winners each received a $5,000 college scholarship for their commitment to education and their communities. Sun Life will sponsor trips for 17 youth and 15 nonprofit organization representatives to attend the Summit as part of its Rising Star Awards Program, which recognizes nonprofits that address low high school graduation rates and honors outstanding students who have overcome significant obstacles to succeed.

“The Grad Nation Summit is the one time each year where individuals and organizations from all across the country can come together to assess progress, examine what’s working, and ask questions about what more needs to be done to increase graduation rates,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “To be successful, the Grad Nation Summit must include the voices, energy and ideas of young people. We are grateful to Sun Life for its support and allowing more young people an opportunity to become a part of this movement.”

During the Summit, youth participants will have a chance to connect with hundreds of educators, policymakers, business leaders and community organizers attending from around the country, empowering them to contribute ideas, voices and solutions for increasing high school, graduation rates.

Sun Life’s Rising Star Awards program, now entering its fourth year, has awarded nearly $3 million in grants and scholarships to education-based nonprofits and high school students across the country. Many Rising Star Award winners are first-generation college students who have overcome socio-economic and cultural obstacles to pursue higher education. The company also previously commissioned research on financial barriers and college access, and organized a national summit of its own in 2011 to address critically important education issues affecting high school students.

The “Building a Grad Nation” Summit is the nation’s premier annual event focused on measuring progress in the nation’s efforts to increase high school graduation rates and close opportunity gaps for youth.  The Summit is hosted by America’s Promise Alliance in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education.

The theme of this year’s Summit is Realizing the Promise.  More than 800 people from around the country are expected to attend and will have the opportunity to learn the latest data on national and state level graduation rates as well as the latest ideas for what works in preventing dropouts and preparing students for success in school, college, career and life. They will hear from some of the nation’s most revered practitioners and thought leaders on: expanded learning opportunities, early childhood education, child health, national service, common core state standards, how to build a successful business-education partnership, social and emotional learning as well as the latest in education reform efforts and public policy. The full summit agenda can be found at:

Launched in 2010, the Grad Nation Campaign is a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time.


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.


About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. We bring together more than 400 national organizations representing nonprofit groups, businesses, communities, educators and policymakers. Through our Grad Nation campaign, we mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. Building on the legacy of our founding chairman General Colin Powell, America’s Promise believes the success of young people is grounded in the Five Promises—Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others. For more information, visit


Media contacts

Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 617-895-7905,
Colleen Wilber, America’s Promise, 202-657-0647,

SLPC 24738 02/13 (Exp. 02/17)