MLK Day of Service: Day for Volunteerism


Hundreds of thousands will mark the day of service with projects in all 50 states. On Monday, January 18, 2016, thousands of organizations across the across the country will lead Americans in the nation’s largest day of civic engagement, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

With an emphasis on creating opportunity for all, citizens in all 50 states will deliver meals, refurbish schools and community centers, and collect food and clothing. Volunteers will also recruit mentors, build homes and provide other services for veterans and military families, and help citizens improve their financial literacy skills.

“Dr. King’s life is a shining example that one person can make a difference and change the course of history,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). “By volunteering in communities across the nation on the MLK Day of Service, we honor his legacy through the spirit of service.  I am honored to serve alongside the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dedicating a day to give back, and I am convinced that the day will inspire many to make volunteering part of their lives all year long.”

In 1994, Congress designated MLK Day as the first and only federal holiday observed as a national day of service, and charged CNCS with leading this effort. Participants in the agency’s AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs are leading and participating in projects across the country. Americans may visit  to find a service project for MLK Day or a year-round volunteer opportunity in their own community.

CNCS provides grants to six national organizations that play a leadership role in the MLK Day of Service: Youth Service of America, Iowa Western Community College, Points of Light, the Arc of the United States, Tennessee State University, and Service for Peace. In addition to these grantees, more than 30 other organizations are strategic partners, including AARP, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, United Way of America, and YouthBuild USA.

Sample projects are highlighted below. More information, including details about local service opportunities, is available at
•Atlanta, Ga.: Covenant House Georgia’s AmeriCorps (CHGA) team members will clean the grounds of CHGA and their shelter and facilities. Project activities will include outdoor clean-up of leaves and trash, indoor clean-up of shelter, and clean-up of sheds and storage space.
•Boston, Mass.: In partnership with ServiceWorks AmeriCorps VISTA members, Boston Cares will engage 650 volunteers to create Reading Success Kits for Boston public elementary schools. Each toolkit will include a small bookshelf, grade-specific books, literacy games, hand-made picture books, and classroom sets of literacy flashcards and reading journals.
•Birmingham, Ala.:  The Alabama Environmental Council (AEC), through HandsOn Birmingham, will engage a team of volunteers in a clean-up of roadways, railways, and sites. Volunteers will participate in various activities including installing donor tiles, and trash pick-up around railroad tracks at the organization’s new recycle center in Avondale.
•Chicago, Ill.: City Year Chicago AmeriCorps members will join hundreds of volunteers to transform and beautify Thomas Kelly High School and Brighton Park Elementary School with murals, painting, and construction projects. Additionally, ServiceWorks, a CNCS partnership with Points of Light and the Citi Foundation, will host a presentation on homelessness and engage volunteers in developing homeless kits for the community.
•Dallas, Texas: In preparation for the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance Point in Time Homeless Count on January 21, CitySquare AmeriCorps members will prepare project materials and package snack packs and hygiene kits to be given out during the count.
•Detroit, Mich.: The AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program will work with community volunteers to create safer pathways to school by securing 25 vacant properties on student walking routes to Pulaski Elementary and Osborn High Schools. Additionally, EcoWorks will lead volunteers of all ages in gathering and distributing cold weather items to those in need around the Cass Corridor.
•Lafayette, La.: AmeriCorps Director Bill Basl will join Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany, Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, Volunteer Louisiana Executive Director Judd Jeansonne, and AmeriCorps members and alums serving with Rebuilding Together to repair homes for homeowners in need.
•Lawton, Okla.: City of Lawton Senior Corps RSVP volunteers will participate in several events across the city including the collection of new and gently used children’s books for donation to the students and library of Lincoln Elementary School; the collection of clothing items for infants, toddlers, children and women for two Comanche Nation shelters and the Armed Services YMCA Soldiers Closet.
•Los Angeles, Calif.: AmeriCorps Hope for the Homeless will work with the homeless community in and around Skid Row, distributing clothing, hygiene products and food, as well as referring veterans at the event to those working with the Veterans Resource Corps.
•New York, N.Y.:  Habitat for Humanity New York City will host its 17th Annual Building on the Dream: MLK Weekend of Service. Volunteers will revitalize and beautify local community centers, and renovate homes for two  families.
•Norfolk, Va.: Virginia Veterans Corps AmeriCorps members will serve at the Union Mission Ministries to process clothing donations to prepare them for shelters, community assistance, and thrift stores.
•Philadelphia, Pa.: The Greater Philadelphia region is expecting a record 140,000 volunteers in 1,800 community service projects on MLK Day. Senator Bob Casey, former Senator Harris Wofford, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will join volunteers at Girard College to sort business clothes to be donated to help low-income and unemployed individuals seeking employment.
•Salt Lake City, Utah: The YMCA of Northern Utah will serve donated food to the homeless on MLK Day when a lot of homeless people are limited to where they can go to receive food on a federal holiday.
•Seattle, Wash.: The United Way of King County will serve at the Colman Park Trail removing invasive plants, renovating the trail with new gravel, trail clearing, and cleaning around drains and gardening in the Heart Bed.
•Sioux City, Iowa: Morningside College will engage volunteers in making fleece tie blankets that will be donated to Support Siouxland Soldiers and homeless shelters in Sioux City.
•South Miami, Fla.: Branches South Miami will host the 4th Annual SoMi Lights MLK Day. More than 100 AmeriCorps members and volunteers will spend the day beautifying South Dade through painting, planting, and performing arts projects.
•Washington, D.C.: The Student Conservation Association (SCA), an AmeriCorps grantee, will engage 500 volunteers in river clean-up removing trash and debris at Anacostia Park. Also, the George Washington University will lead service projects to clean and organize the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center.

This MLK Day marks the first year CNCS will partner with Snapchat to curate MLK Day stories in Atlanta, Ga.; Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Ill.; Iowa; Los Angeles, Calif.; New Hampshire; and New York, N.Y. Snapchat and CNCS are encouraging nearly one million volunteers, grantees, and AmeriCorps members serving on the day of service to show how they are giving back and the importance of making Monday “a day on, not a day off.” Snapchat users can follow nationalservice on Snapchat as the official account of the MLK Day of Service.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit


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