2023 Best Education Initiative

MLK Scholars Program - John Hancock

John Hancock’s mission of driving inclusive economic opportunity and accelerating the upward mobility of underrepresented groups was behind the creation of a series of targeted internship programs called the John Hancock MLK Scholars youth employment program.


The program aims to level the playing field for young people by creating a program that brings underrepresented groups to the workplace and gives them equal access to work experiences and networks that are key to building long-term skills, self-confidence, and financial empowerment.


In 2022, John Hancock celebrated the 15th anniversary of the MLK Scholars Program and return of in-person programming. Through a $1 million investment, John Hancock provided grant funding to nonprofit organizations to hire hundreds of Boston teens to support their mission.

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MLK scholars

In addition, John Hancock hired high school students and college MLK Scholars “alum” to work in the corporate office. Not only did the Scholars have hands on office work, but they also attended weekly career exploration session, professional development workshops, small group check-ins and college essay writing workshops. A total of 96 John Hancock employees volunteered to support last year’s Scholars as managers, mentors, workshop facilitators and writing tutors. The experience of these Scholars coincided with those of hundreds of others who were engaged with organizations across the city of Boston. Last year, Scholar positions expanded to include college intern roles for the program’s alumni, in order to continue building a talent pipeline, and, for the first time, offering a scholarship. The winner received a $20,000 contribution that can be used for qualified education expenses of the winner at any eligible institution of higher education.


Last summer, John Hancock employed 22 students – six who returned for their second or third year as an MLK Scholar – and 14 program alumni were hired as college interns. Close to 100 employees volunteered to help run the program as managers, mentors, tutors, and guest speakers.

MLK Scholars is a signature program, advancing the company’s goal to drive inclusive economic opportunity. Importantly, the students who participate in the program come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, and lived experiences. This program opens access to historically marginalized communities, and individuals are often working in a corporate environment for the first time. Engaging with young people through creative ways every summer, providing them meaningful experiences and opportunities for growth, giving them a chance and preparing them for success helps John Hancock because it prepares the city’s future workforce for success. The impact of the program will reverberate for generations still to come. It supports nonprofits by building much needed capacity to build on their missions. And it generates conversation around community investments and promotes positive changes to public policy.