Two outstanding Chicago area students Jessica Zamudio and Elizabeth Pena were surprised Tuesday when they found they were getting help from some big names who wanted to help send them to college.
Chicago Bulls Guard Jimmy Butler, along with Sun Life Regional Group Manager Michael Techtmann and Sun Life Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader Stephen Barreca, surprised them and their supporting nonprofit organizations OneGoal and Christopher House with a total of $110,000 in grants and scholarships as part of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program.
The private basketball clinic took place at Joy of the Game Tuesday night, where Butler was on hand to lead Zamudio and Pena, along with more than 30 Chicago youth from both nonprofits, in a variety of basketball drills and games. After the surprise announcement, Butler also conducted a Q&A session with the youth, giving them insight to his background growing up and what it takes to succeed in life and in school.
OneGoal and Christopher House each received $50,000 grants, while Zamudio and Pena received $5,000 Sun Life Rising Star college scholarships for their remarkable educational achievements and commitment to their community.
The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provides financial resources to highly-motivated students and nonprofit organizations in large urban school districts committed to encouraging under-served youth to stay in school. The program also promotes the importance of higher education as a means to achieve life-long financial wellness.
This year, Sun Life will provide nearly $1 million in grants, scholarships and other resources to outstanding organizations and students in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Nashville and South Florida. By the end of 2013, Sun Life will have invested nearly $4 million to recognize a total of 70 students and 63 nonprofit organizations in 14 U.S. cities, since the program began in 2010.