MLK Summer Scholars: Find Your Voice, Change the World

Working in close partnership with the Boston Globe, Boston University, Partners HealthCare and the City of Boston, John Hancock’s MLK Summer Scholars program annually provides 600 Boston teens with meaningful work experience at non-profit organizations throughout the city. Guided by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inspiring example, the summer-long experience helps teens find their voice and use it to positively impact those around them.  As a supplement to employment, all scholars attend Mayor Menino Leadership Forums, a series of Friday workshops which further the legacy of their namesake by connecting youth with opportunity.

This summer’s program theme evolved from a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”  The forum curriculum is designed to get scholars thinking about this question, while exposing them to current business and civic leaders who challenge them to create lasting change. Outside of the forums, scholars will complete online modules, powered by Everfi, which emphasize the influence one person’s words and actions can have on the world around them.

The first forum on Friday, July 10th, kicked off the theme with a talk from Paul Burton, director of the Ron Burton Training Village, who encouraged students to “dream big, act now!” Burton’s powerful words gained momentum with table exercises which prompted scholars to share their own experiences creating change in their communities. Responses ranged from starting a dialogue with city council members to improving variety in school lunch programs. Pretty impressive for week #1!

In addition to hearing and speaking about the importance of service, scholars will have the opportunity to show their community commitment via social media. At the end of each forum three prizes will be awarded at random to those who have shared a photo using #MLKSelflessSelfie on their Twitter or Instagram channel. Our first set of winners has some lofty goals- check out their photos below!

A quick verbal poll at the forum’s end showed that a majority of the scholars were newly motivated to “go out there and make it happen.” Seems like the summer is off to a good start!

Want to go the extra mile? Share one thing you plan to do for your community this summer.