The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced Houston’s Sun Life Rising Star Awards program winners, awarding a total of $110,000 in grants and scholarships to Genesys Works - Houston and KIPP Houston, two Houston area, youth-oriented nonprofits, and Cesar E. Chavez High School Senior Liliana Mendoza and KIPP Houston High School Senior Keiry Hernandez, the exemplary students nominated by each respective organization. The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, now in its third year, addresses low high school graduation rates in large urban school districts by providing financial resources and education to students and nonprofit organizations, as well as promoting financial literacy as a means to achieve life-long financial wellness and stability. Since 2010, Sun Life Financial has awarded nearly $3 million through the program.
As proud family members looked on, Sun Life surprised the winning students with their $5,000 scholarships at a special awards presentation held in advance of KOOZA™ from Cirque du Soleil® at Sam Houston Race Park, where the students and their families enjoyed an exclusive experience with VIP ROUGE™*. The winners participated in performance workshops led by performers from KOOZA™, as well as a Q&A session with the Company Manager.
In addition to monetary support, the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program will provide winning organizations with educational curriculum and resources to increase financial literacy among students. Sun Life recently partnered with dfree®, a movement developed by Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. to galvanize the public to overcome the culture of debt and attain financial self-sufficiency. As part of the partnership, Sun Life and dfree® will provide Sun Life Rising Star Award students and organizations with the Breaking Free Workbook, which includes interactive activities and evaluation tools to encourage debt-free living using the program’s core principles and financial strategies. Soaries will also address winning organizations and students at a series of educational seminars in select Sun Life Rising Star cities throughout the fall.
“Through our Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, we are making an investment in our youth, our education system and the workforce of tomorrow,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson. “It’s both a privilege and our pleasure to reward these incredible students who have persevered in the face of adversity and stayed committed to furthering their education. We believe they need only opportunity and support to realize their full potential.”