Financial Empowerment

We empower people to gain the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to achieve financial security. We focus on innovative career readiness and asset building programs designed to reduce financial stress and address the capacity and resiliency of the whole person. Our goal is to help individuals and families break out of the cycle of poverty and improve their economic resiliency.

Working in close partnership with The Boston Globe, Boston University, Partners HealthCare, The Ad Club, and the City of Boston, John Hancock's MLK Scholars program addresses what is deemed a critical need in Boston - summer jobs for city youth.

Each summer, John Hancock sponsors the employment of over 600 Boston teens at nearly 60 local non-profit organizations—the largest summer jobs program of its kind in United States. The MLK Scholars program is built on the inspirational values and legacy of its namesake, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


This empowering program turns scholars into leaders, in the office, the classroom and the greater community. To elevate the work experience, John Hancock organizes a series of Leadership Forums held at Boston University, and provides access to an online finanical literacy course. The program connects scholars to business and civic leaders, challenges them to learn new skills, and inspires them to realize the difference they can make in their communities.??

Non-profit organizations accepted for partnership will be required to adhere to the program requirements described below.?


MLK Scholars Program Structure

Selected non-profit partners will receive $1,825 for each MLK Scholar position awarded. Partners will have the flexibility to recruit and hire Scholars from their communities provided that they meet Scholar eligibility criteria.

MLK Scholars is open to teens, who are full-time residents of the City of Boston, preferably within the target age range of 16–18, and have demonstrated leadership qualities.

As part of the summer experience, youth participants, from neighborhoods throughout the City, are required to attend bi-weekly personal?development workshops and complete an online financial education course. The curriculum consistently integrates important messages on social responsibility, leadership development, and civic?engagement.

The program typically runs from early July through mid-August.

Program Requirements

Non-profit organizations agree to do the following to ensure an appropriate and rich developmental experience for youth:?

1. Recruit, identify and select appropriate youth who fulfill the MLK Scholars Criteria.

2. Follow all Federal and?State labor laws including minimum wage laws.

3. Provide youth with substantive and engaging work for a minimum of 20 hours per week, along with professional supervision and oversight throughout the summer.

4. Participate fully in the program:

  • ?Sign a Program Agreement, to be provided by John Hancock upon acceptance.

  • Register all Scholars for the program through an online link to be provided by John Hancock.

  • Implement John Hancock waiver in the Scholars’ onboarding process.

  • Respond fully to MLKS communications and inquiries.

  • Attend Nonprofit Partner Meetings at John Hancock.

  • Commit 1 staff member to volunteer at the Leadership Forums if awarded 5 or more scholars.

  • Ensure Scholars complete assigned online EVERFI modules during the work week.

  • At the end of the summer, complete the Organization Survey once per organization, and ensure all Scholars submit Youth Survey responses.

MLK Scholars Criteria

Organizations are also responsible for ensuring their MLK Scholars fit the following criteria:

  1. Scholars are within target age range of 16-18.

  2. Scholars are full-time residents of Boston.

  3. Scholars can attend the Leadership Forums, a series of bi-weekly Friday morning workshops during the summer.?

If your organization has any questions about its ability to meet the letter or spirit of the program, we encourage you to contact us directly to?discuss your concerns.

Organization Application Process

We are currently reviewing applications for Summer 2019. Selected non-profit partners will be notified around MLK Day (January 21, 2019). The application for Summer 2020 will re-open in Fall 2019. To be notified when the application is open, please sign up via the interest form below:

2019 MLK Partners


MLK Scholars Alumni

John Hancock and our partners created the MLK Scholars Program?in 2008?to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth for promising Boston city students. Read below to see where they are now.

“If you lead by action, people will follow.”

During his time as an MLK Scholar from 2007-2010, Darius worked with both the Thomas Community Center and the Tobin Community Center. He valued the program because of its namesake. The values Martin Luther King Jr. Stood for were values Darius sought to live his life by.

Darius said he was reserved and a bit hesitant, but participating in the program helped build his confidence and made him the person he is today. He was awarded a scholarship through the Red Sox and graduated from Bentley University, having held jobs with the Celtics, the Bruins and now the Red Sox. Young people in his community strive to follow in his footsteps.?

“To be a good leader, you have to be a good listener.”

An MLK Scholar with Teen Empowerment from 2009 – 2014, Amy wanted to make a social impact on the community after losing her cousin to a random act of gun violence. Through this program, she found her voice and developed leadership skills. She believes that being a good leader means being a good listener.

She says that the program taught her that there is always something to do to help people. Currently, she works as an internal auditor for Massachusetts courthouses, and she says that this is the way she gives back to the community.“If you lead by action, people will follow.”



My commitment to community shaped my future.”

Coleman was an MLK Scholar from 2012-2016, spending all four summers at the South Boston Community Health Center because he felt a commitment to see the cause through.

The program gave him perspective on the topics of finance and leadership and helped him become outgoing and driven. He credits the success stories he heard at the program’s workshops with the inspiration to create a distinct vision of his future. Enrolled at the Florida Institute of Technology, he is double majoring in psychology and applied behavior analysis. His commitment to community development stays strong in his current role as a manager with the Neighborhood Development Corps.?


“Education is the key to opportunity.”

An MLK Scholar at Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra from 2010 – 2015, Alex was a music teacher and camp counselor for young students. She says that it taught her the best ways to approach certain situations and issues with friends, colleagues, and bosses. She is now comfortable taking on leadership roles in competitive arenas.

At Yale University, she plays basketball and is majoring in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies. She is interested in advocacy and media studies. She believes that staying in school is important for minorities because education is the key to opportunity. She emphasizes that it is important to understand that education will open doors

I love learning. I want kids to love learning too.”

An MLK Scholar with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester in 2012 and 2013, Maeve had been a member herself since she was three years old. She mentored kids the same way she had been mentored by staff growing up.?

Maeve was a shy child, but now she is a strong and independent young woman. She applies what she has learned as a Scholar in her daily life. Having found a love for working with children, she aspires to make her passion a career. Maeve is the first in her family to graduate college and is continuing on to get her masters in elementary education. Her goal is to work for the Boston Public Schools.


“Be confident in everything you do.”

An MLK Scholar from 2015-2016, Takora worked for Boston Harbor Now as a social media manager, marketing their Waterfront Planning and Development initiatives. She sees the summers as transformative because the program pushed beyond her comfort zone and made her step up as a leader.

She says the program helped her transition to college, giving her the confidence she needed as a student athlete. She just finished her freshman year at Temple University where she plays basketball. The MLK Scholars program helped her procure a job at GrlzRadio, where she started to love broadcasting. She is hoping to secure a position with NBC.

"I gained so much insight into the real world.”

India was an MLK Scholar at the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) from 2007 – 2010, working first in an administrative role and then with the Girls Leadership Program. It was there that India discovered her passion for working with at-risk youth.

After studying psychology in college (with a double minor in gender studies and sociology), India now works with Children’s Services of Roxbury. Not only does she help neighborhood families from all sorts of backgrounds and demographics, she leads a diverse team of more than 70 individuals. India applies the organizational and budgeting skills she learned as an MLK Scholar to develop grant proposals in her commitment to help even more families in need.

"Never be afraid to speak your mind.”

Prior to his time as an MLK Scholar with John Hancock, Carlos worked as a youth coordinator with Team Empowerment. It was there that his passion for giving back to the community was ignited. As a Scholar with John Hancock’s Corporate Responsibility group, he was intrigued and excited to see how a large corporation that shared his values could positively impact the community.

Carlos found the MLK Scholars workshops and speakers inspiring. Especially the ones who came from a similar background to his, demonstrating that where you come from doesn’t have to limit how far you go. Perhaps the greatest lesson Carlos took away from the program, and one he practices and encourages in others every day in his current role as a b. good Customer Communication Associate, is “everyone’s voice and opinion matters and deserves to be heard.”

“Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.”

An aspiring performer, Mackenzie worked on the Boston Landmark Orchestra’s stage crew as an MLK Scholar from 2010 – 2012. The work he did had a tremendous impact on the community, exposing kids to the world of classical music through a weekly series of free Wednesday concerts.?

Mackenzie saw the MLK Scholars program as an opportunity to broaden his horizons and expand his network. Both of which he can definitively say he’s achieved. He is currently employed full time as a stage supervisor for the Boston Landmark Orchestra. And he continues to work on building his network and acquiring new skills and experiences to help him pursue his dream of someday performing on Broadway.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

An MLK Scholar with Save the Harbor Save the Bay from 2009 – 2011, Thi says she was extremely uncomfortable in her own skin when she started in the program. The experience taught her that the moment you are most uncomfortable is when you are learning the most about yourself and growing.?

To Thi, being a good leader means being able to recognize the different skills that individuals bring to the table and admitting that sometimes the people you are leading know more than you do. A lesson she applies in her current role as an AmeriCorps Massachusetts Promise Fellow, where she mentors a group of 10 teenagers at the Cleveland Community Center.



In addition, we are proud to support a range of programs and organizations that foster financial empowerment throughout our community:


InnerCity Weightlifting (ICW) reduces youth violence by connecting proven-risk young people with new networks and opportunities, including meaningful career tracks in and beyond personal fitness. ICW uses the gym to replace segregation and isolation with economic mobility and social inclusion, disrupting the system that leads to urban street violence. John Hancock supports ICW with a significant community investment grant.

John Hancock partnered with the Mayor of Boston’s Office of Public Safety and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston’s YouthConnect to launch this multi-year program in June 2015. Enhancing Potential, Inspiring Change (EPIC) is a 12-month program which aims to increase skills, self-awareness and confidence in youth 11 to 14 years-old. Each year, approximately 50 youth participate in the program, beginning with a summer experience through a Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston site, followed by small group workshops throughout the academic year, ongoing case management, and afterschool programming. The program also provides participants with community-based services and activities.

The mission of the Ron Burton Training Village (RBTV) is to enrich the lives of challenged youth in the areas of dynamic character and leadership development, physical fitness, social and educational advancement, and spiritual growth. All campers attend on scholarship (free of charge) so that no child is turned away because of their financial situation. ?The year-round program uses academic study, athletic competition, and a commitment to community to teach teamwork, sportsmanship, and moral conduct. RBTV supports the development of the entire human being, and reflects the man who designed it, lived it, and passed it on. Ron Burton, Sr., had a dream to start a camp where kids would come to train and attain personal growth in such a way as to succeed in every facet of life. John Hancock has been a significant partner to RBTV since the beginning, as Ron Burton Sr. worked at the company for over 35 years.??

More Than Words (MTW) empowers youth who are in foster care, court-involved, homeless or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business. MTW believes that when system-involved youth are challenged with authentic and increasing responsibilities in a business setting, and are given high expectations and a culture of support, they can and will address personal barriers to success, create concrete action plans for their lives, and become contributing members of society.? More Than Words began as an online bookselling training program for youth in Department CF custody in 2004 and opened its vibrant bookstore on Moody St in Waltham in 2005 and added its Starbucks coffee bar in 2008. MTW replicated its model in the South End of Boston in 2011, thereby doubling the number of youth served annually. John Hancock supports ICW with a significant community investment grant.

John Hancock has committed significant efforts and resources to improve the financial capability of Americans through unique digital learning initiatives. John Hancock partners with EverFi to bring its web-based program to students at no cost to thirty-five schools in the Detroit area over six-hundred Boston teens. John Hancock’s MLK Scholars and John Hancock Michigan Scholars programs use the latest in simulation and gaming technologies to bring complex financial concepts to life for today’s digital generation.?