MLK Day Will Be Marked as a National Day of Service

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Jan 11, 2012

Projects in All 50 States; Economic Opportunity a Key Focus

Washington, D.C. – Momentum is building for the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service, as thousands of organizations across the country put the finishing touches on volunteer projects to bring Americans together to serve their neighbors and advance Dr. King’s dream of social justice and economic opportunity for all.

With the holiday just days away, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is urging Americans to visit MLKDay.gov to find volunteer opportunities in their communities and make MLK Day a “day on, not a day off.”

Projects will take place in all 50 states, including weatherizing homes, beautifying schools, serving meals, and supporting veterans and military families. Many organizations use the day as a springboard for year-round service, such as signing up mentors and tutors for at-risk youth.

A special focus of the 2012 MLK Day of Service is advancing Dr. King’s dream of economic opportunity. In Philadelphia, a jobs fair will connect 500 people looking for work with prospective employers. In Dayton, Ohio, volunteers will offer help in job searching, resume writing, and interview preparation. Members of AmeriCorps VISTA will fan out nationwide to raise awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit and offer free tax preparation services.

“Dr. King devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and economic opportunity for all, and taught us that everyone has a role to play in making America what it ought to be,” said Robert Velasco II, acting CEO of CNCS. “Now more than ever, we need to take heed of Dr. King’s teachings and work together to achieve his dream. Volunteer service is a powerful way to strengthen economic opportunity. And when better to start than on the day we honor Dr. King?”

In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging the King Federal Holiday to be observed as a national day of service, and charged CNCS with leading this national effort. This year, CNCS developed several signature initiatives, including a partnership with Scholastic to create and distribute MLK Day Curriculum for grades 3-5; new MLK Day videos and TV and radio PSAs featuring civil rights leaders; and working with faith, non-profit and community leaders to provide more than 2,000 MLK Drum Majors for Service awards to exemplary volunteers.

CNCS awarded MLK Day of Service grants to six organizations to lead service activities on the day, supporting more than 300 projects nationwide to meet local needs:

  • HOPE worldwide is mobilizing thousands of volunteers across the nation, focusing on fire prevention and preparedness. Partnering with a number of local Red Cross branches, HOPE worldwide is hosting fire prevention fairs, canvasing to raise awareness of fire prevention, and conducting smoke alarm inspection and installation.
  • Points of Light is focusing its efforts on meeting the needs of veterans and military families, activating more than 185,000 volunteers through subgrantee projects. From MLK Day America's Sunday Suppers focused on veterans and military members in local movie theaters in Central California to the nation’s largest MLK service project in Philadelphia with more than 85,000 volunteers. Americans are stepping up across the country to service to connect veterans and military families to jobs and training, education, housing and health care.
  • Service for Peace is mobilizing more than 25,000 volunteers with a focus on engaging and helping veterans and military families across the country, focusing on a wide array of issue areas, including leading the MLK Jr. National Food Drive, school clean ups, house rebuilding and promoting and restoring community garden art. Through the 40 Days of Peace campaign, Service for Peace will be working to reduce bullying, crime and violence across America from Jan. 16th to Feb. 24th.
  • Mobilizing nearly 12,000 volunteers on more than 65 college campuses across the country, Wisconsin Campus Compact and its partners will focus on education, healthy futures, economic opportunity and disaster preparedness with events ranging fromworking with area food banks to hosting a community breakfast for local leaders.
  • Youth Service America will engage at least 50,000 youth volunteers on MLK Day through partner and grantee schools and community organizations. Young people, ages 5-25, will serve as part of programs organized by 16 MLK Day Lead Organizers funded by CNCS as well as nearly 500 other YSA grant funded projects. Many of these grantees will use MLK Day as part of a Semester of Service™, an extended youth-led experience of at least 70 hours of learning and service.
  • Cesar Chavez Foundation is mobilizing more than 6,000 volunteers throughout the southwest and western region of the nation, focusing on education through digital literacy programs, community educational events and service learning projects.

CNCS leads the annual national MLK Day of Service as a part its broader mission to engage Americans of all ages in service to meet critical local and national needs. Working with the King Center, other federal agencies, nonprofit and community groups, faith-based organizations, schools and businesses nationwide, CNCS helps Americans turn the MLK Day into a national day of service to make an impact in their communities.

More information, including details about local service opportunities, is available at MLKDay.gov.

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Media Contact

Samantha Jo Warfield
(202) 606-6775
sjwarfield@cns.gov

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