Applications are being accepted for Sun Life Rising Star Awards grants from South Florida Area nonprofit organizations that promote the academic achievement of under-served youth.

Donating a total of $220,000 in grants and scholarships, Sun Life will award four winning organizations with $50,000 grants and, in turn, each nonprofit will nominate an exemplary student to receive a $5,000 Sun Life Rising Star scholarship towards financing a college education.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program is the educational cornerstone program of the Miami Dolphins Foundation.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provides grants to nonprofit organizations in large urban districts, along with scholarships to under-served youth. Qualifying students exhibit leadership qualities and a commitment to their communities, while qualifying nonprofit organizations promote academic excellence as a means to achieving life-long financial wellness.

This year, the program will award grants and scholarships in five metropolitan areas: 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. In South Florida alone, Sun Life has already committed $880,000 to local education-based nonprofit organizations and under-served area students.

 “Sun Life is proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Rising Star Program,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. Vice President of Marketing Ed Milano. “We continue our commitment to investing in our nation’s under-served youth by recognizing educational excellence as a means to financial security. We look forward to welcoming our newest class of Rising Stars this year and following their continued success.”

To be considered for a Sun Life Rising Star Award grant, organizations must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, promote skills that directly translate to educational success in high school to students under the age of 21, and collaborate with a secondary or post-secondary educational institution. In each city, a judging panel comprised of the foremost government officials, community, education and business leaders will evaluate the applications and student nominations.

Student nominees must be high school seniors actively involved in an organization that shares the Sun Life Rising Star Awards’ mission. They must also plan to pursue post-secondary education, exhibit leadership qualities, and demonstrate a strong commitment to their communities. Nominated students are required to submit a 750-word essay. Applications are available now at The deadline for submissions is June 9. Winning students will be awarded later this year.