Sarah McLachlan & Sun Life Financial launch new music school in Edmonton

Sun Life donates $300,000 to help underserved and at-risk children and youth

EDMONTON, May 25, 2016 /CNW/ - Edmonton's underserved and at-risk children and youth will now have the opportunity to gain access to world-class music programming at no cost. The Sarah McLachlan School of Music (SoM), currently operating in Vancouver, is opening their second school in Edmonton, Alberta. As the Founding Sponsor, Sun Life Financial has donated $300,000 to help launch the new school.

"We're thrilled to be expanding into Edmonton and offering more kids the opportunity to experience the power of music education," said Sarah McLachlan, Founder, Sarah McLachlan School of Music. "Music has played such an important role in my life and career. Being able to share the gift of music is magical. This opportunity will enrich the lives of kids who need it the most."

Students receive ensemble-based instruction in music fundamentals, guitar, piano, percussion, choir, songwriting, music theory and electronic music. By the end of 2016 the school hopes to have approximately 120 students enrolled and over 250 by the end of 2017. SoM Edmonton began offering classes in April and is currently operating in partnership with Edmonton Public Schools.

"This is a great way to demonstrate the ongoing efforts to provide our students with access to music education," said Darrel Robertson, Superintendent, Edmonton Public Schools. "Edmonton Public is pleased to see SoM Edmonton in the community, serving children in need."

Sun Life Financial is proud to be the Founding Sponsor of SoM Edmonton. A $300,000 donation helped establish the school, and provide musical instruments, instruction and administrative support. In 2014, Sun Life Financial also announced a $300,000 donation and three-year partnership with SoM Vancouver.

"We've seen first-hand the amazing impact SoM has had on the lives of children and youth. Students not only learn the fundamentals of music but build essential life-long skills like confidence and resilience," said Paul Joliat, Assistant Vice-President, Philanthropy & Sponsorships, Sun Life Financial. "We are committed to supporting music schools across Canada and we look forward to seeing the impact this new school will have in Edmonton."

Sun Life Financial is supporting the vision of Grammy and Juno Award-winning Canadian music icon Sarah McLachlan. Sarah's dream of making a difference by bringing music into the lives of young people who might not have access, reflects the core goal of Sun Life Financial's signature Making the Arts More Accessible™ program. The heart of the program aims to provide Canadians the opportunity to enjoy the very best of our country's arts and cultural community, regardless of their means.

For more information about Sun Life's philanthropic work with SoM and to learn more about Sun Life Financial's Making the Arts More Accessible™ program, visit www.sunlife.ca/artsandculture.

About the Sarah McLachlan School of Music
The Sarah McLachlan School of Music (SoM) provides high quality music instruction at no cost, in a safe and nurturing environment, for at-risk and underserved children and youth in Vancouver, Surrey and Edmonton. Our vision at SoM is to create opportunities in the community that do not otherwise exist for at-risk and underserved children and youth. Students aged 1 to 5, grades 3 through 12 receive music instruction in both contemporary and classical traditions with no previous experience required. Our professional musical instructors provide a safe space for students to explore their creativity, to approach music in an ensemble setting, to express themselves through song writing, and to access lessons in voice, piano, guitar, bass, drums, marimba, auxiliary percussion, electronic music and multi - media. SoM provides opportunities for young people to develop creatively and emotionally, to collaborate with others, communicate in new ways, and to gain the self-confidence they need to thrive in all areas of school and life.

Funded entirely through donations, we provide music education to over 1,100 students through our onsite and offsite programs at partnering schools in Vancouver, Surrey and Edmonton. At SoM we are fortunate to receive support from the Sarah McLachlan Foundation that covers our overhead and admin costs.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2016, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $861 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Canada

Image with caption: "Paul Joliat from Sun Life Financial and Sarah McLachlan launch the Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Edmonton, AB. (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160525_C9182_PHOTO_EN_44747.jpg



For further information:

Media Relations Contact: 
Gannon Loftus
Manager, Media & PR
Sun Life Financial
T. 647.228.8244
gannon.loftus@sunlife.com 

Rob Appleton
Executive Director
Sarah McLachlan School of Music
T. 604.908.2997
rob@sarahschoolofmusic.com


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