“We are making an investment in our 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’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.”
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 Awards 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 this fall.
“It is an honor to once again join Sun Life for the third year to recognize these incredible students and community organizations for their tireless efforts and commitment to bettering the lives of under-served youth in South Florida,” said Miami Dolphins Chief Executive Officer Mike Dee.
A 10-person judging panel comprised of South Florida’s foremost athletes, education and community leaders, philanthropists, financial advisors, city officials and local activists selected the Sun Life Rising Star Awards winners 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 post-secondary education, leadership qualities, commitment to his or her community, and a 750-word essay on how financial education contributes to future success