November 12, 2014

San Francisco Basketball Star Andre Iguodala, Sun Life Financial Present $110,000 in Grants & Scholarships to San Francisco Nonprofits & Students

Basketball Star, Sun Life executives surprise winning students Eneida Sanchez, Barbara Yupit Gomez with scholarships; Huckleberry Youth Programs and Next Generation Scholars among 12 exceptional organizations across U.S. honored with Sun Life Rising Star Awards for commitment to education

Wellesley, MA (November 12, 2014) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial today announced the San Francisco recipients of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards and presented $110,000 in grants and scholarships to two nonprofit community organizations and an exemplary student nominated by each nonprofit.

  • Nonprofit winners: Huckleberry Youth Programs and Next Generation Scholars
  • Student winners: Eneida Sanchez and Barbara Yupit Gomez

Sun Life Group Market Manager Brad Fleiss joined San Francisco basketball star Andre Iguodala to surprise each winning student with a $5,000 scholarship for college, and recognize each nonprofit organization with a $50,000 grant at an awards presentation in San Francisco.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for students and education-based nonprofit organizations that support them in our nation’s under-served metropolitan areas. Now in its fifth year, Sun Life recognizes the remarkable achievements of all Sun Life Rising Star Awards recipients, and celebrates these exceptional students and organizations for their continued dedication to education.

This year, Sun Life will provide $660,000 in grants, scholarships and other resources to outstanding organizations and students in Boston, Nashville, San Francisco, South Florida and the Tulsa/Oklahoma City area. By the end of 2014, Sun Life Financial will have committed nearly $5 million to 86 students and 79 nonprofit organizations in 16 different cities across the country.

“We’re committed to investing in the health of our communities through initiatives like our Sun Life Rising Star Awards program,” said Dan Fishbein, President, Sun Life Financial U.S. “Today’s student scholarship recipients have overcome great obstacles to achieve success. These remarkable individuals and the nonprofit organizations that comprise this year’s class of Sun Life Rising Star Award recipients inspire us all and we look forward to seeing the positive impact that the collective efforts of all our Rising Star recipients will have on their local communities and beyond.”

Sun Life also 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.

Judging panels comprised of government officials, community, education and business leaders evaluate the applications and student nominations in San Francisco based on the following criteria:

  • Nonprofit’s commitment to developing and promoting skills that directly translate to educational engagement and matriculation rates for secondary school youth under the age of 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 of 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.

This year’s panel included:

  • Dr. Nathan (Natalio) Avani, Department Chair of Dept. of Secondary Education, San Francisco State University
  • Elizabeth Carranza, Account Executive at Generali Employee Benefits Network
  • Mike Timmer, Western Area Manager at Generali Employee Benefits Network
  • Paul Reulbach, Publisher at San Francisco Magazine

San Francisco’s 2014 Sun Life Rising Star Award recipients are:

Huckleberry Youth Programs (San Francisco, CA)
Huckleberry Youth Program’s mission is to educate, inspire, and support under-served youth to develop healthy life choices, to maximize their potential, and to realize their dreams. Huckleberry created the first shelter in the country for runaway youth, Huckleberry House, which became a model for hundreds of shelters nationally.

Eneida Sanchez (San Rafael High School)
Eneida Sanchez has been involved with Huckleberry Youth Programs for over three years. Her warmth and dedication to serving others are infectious and she has had a very positive impact on her peers. Eneida is enrolled in AP classes and is a member of the Associated Student Body at her school. She is also a volunteer tutor for Kid’s Club, and used her expertise in specific subjects to tutor younger students.

Next Generation Scholars (San Francisco, CA)
Next Generation Scholars believes equal access to higher education is the key to making positive change within the community. Their mission is to level the playing field by providing dedicated underserved students with all the advantages available to those of privilege. Next Generation Scholars combines a rigorous academic program with community building activities and wrap-around social services.

Barbara Yupit Gomez (San Rafael High School)
Barbara’s dedication to the Next Generation Scholars program and her commitment to education make her a stand out student. She developed an innovative project, “Imagine This,” which combines literature, art and ethnic studies. Barbara helps teach other students in the program and opens them up to new ideas. In her classes, Barbara is always engaged in the material and ready to add insight.

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. The Sun Life Financial group of companies operates under the “Sun Life Financial” name strictly as a marketing name and no legal significance is expressed or implied. 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, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Bermuda. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. In the United States, Sun Life Financial provides a range of products and services to employers and their employees, including Group and Voluntary Accident, Critical Illness, Dental, Disability, Life, and Stop-Loss Insurance Products. 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. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE), and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF. For more information, please visit

Media contact:
Keith Gainsboro, Elevate Communications, 617-895-7905,

SLPC 26256 11/14 (Exp. 11/19)