Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sun Life Rising Star Awards National Summit Addresses Education Issues Facing the Nation’s Youth

Exceptional New York City Students, Representatives of Urban Dove, East Harlem Tutorial Project, & Publicolor Join Pro Athletes & Corporate & Education Leaders to Tackle Lagging High School Graduation Rates at Sun Life Rising Star National Summit
Sun Life Rising Star students & supporting nonprofits; Tennis Champion Venus Williams; Miami Dolphins Chad Pennington & Davone Bess; Sun Life US President Wes Thompson, prominent education leaders discussed critical education issues facing nation’s at-risk youth
Wellesley, MA (February 28, 2011) – Mariama Diallo of New York (Queens), nominated by Urban Dove; Travis Lawson of New York, nominated by East Harlem Tutorial Project; Narita Shelton of New York (Brooklyn), nominated by Publicolor; and 19 other outstanding students from across the country joined an all-star line-up of professional athletes, front-line nonprofit organizations serving at-risk youth, corporate leaders and nationally recognized educators at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL this weekend to address critically important education issues affecting high school students at the Sun Life Rising Star Awards National Summit. The students and community-based organizations who advocate on their behalf were invited to participate as representatives of the inaugural class of Sun Life Rising Stars, having been recognized by the leading financial services organization in 2010 for overcoming the odds by furthering their education.

Pictured here from left are Lawson, Tennis Champion and Miami Dolphins Limited Partner Venus Williams, Shelton and Diallo.

Sun Life developed the Summit to provide a forum for education stakeholders to discuss the state of public education in America’s major metropolitan areas, tackle socio-economic issues causing the precipitous decline in graduation rates among urban high school students, and present new ideas and approaches that will ensure at-risk youth receive the requisite resources and information to finish high school and continue their education.

Tennis Champion and Miami Dolphins Limited Partner Venus Williams; Dolphins Wide Receiver Davone Bess; Quarterback Chad Pennington; and Vice President Nat Moore; Sun Life US President Wes Thompson and Vice President and Head of US Marketing Priscilla Brown represented the Miami Dolphins Foundation and Sun Life Financial respectively.

Highlights included the students’ grand entrance into Sun Life Stadium via the Dolphin’s famed ‘Orange Carpet’ as they were applauded by Bess, Pennington, the Dolphins front office and cheerleaders; a special welcome reception in the Dolphins locker room where they received personalized Dolphins team jerseys; and inspirational speeches by Thompson, Moore and the Dolphins players. Williams shared her personal story of overcoming the odds as an at-risk student in her keynote address.

In 2010, Sun Life Financial provided more than $1 million in grants and scholarships through the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, rewarding students and their supporting nonprofits in Boston, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, and South Florida. Each nonprofit organization received a $50,000 grant, along with training, materials and curriculum infrastructure to develop and provide financial education for youth in its program. Each student received a $5,000 scholarship to help finance their post-secondary education.

Priscilla Elizalde, a San Diego, California graduate of Kearny High School’s Construction Tech Academy, and HANDY, Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Florida nonprofit organization, won the inaugural national award for the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, collecting an additional $50,000 toward college tuition and HANDY, Inc., an additional $50,000 in grants.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards is the educational cornerstone program of the Miami Dolphins Foundation, devoted to providing and supporting signature Education, Health, Youth Athletic Programs and Volunteer Activities that inspire and engage communities throughout Florida.

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