Thursday, January 14, 2010

MLK Day Projects Address National Challenges

National Challenges Addressed on MLK Day
Fighting Poverty, Community Renewal, and Economic Empowerment Focus of Projects on National Day of Service
Washington, DC—  In projects taking place across the nation on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Americans will further Dr. King's work by addressing the challenges facing many American families, from hunger and homelessness to poverty and education inequality.
"This year, we're seeing more projects focused on helping those suffering during these tough economic times," said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency charged with leading the MLK Day of Service. "By serving on King Day, hundreds of thousands of Americans will make real and lasting impacts on the lives of people in need in their communities."
The breadth and scope of the MLK Day projects are in keeping with Dr. King's efforts to "outlaw poverty," a task to which he increasingly focused on after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act. Over the course of his life, Dr. King challenged and mobilized our nation toward his dream of a "Beloved Community," a truly interracial democracy that afforded everyone the opportunity to achieve the American dream.  
More than forty years after his death, America still confronts many of the same problems Dr. King faced in his time -- poverty, hunger, illiteracy, youth violence, and a dropout crisis.  Organizations across the country are using the King Day of Service to engage volunteers in addressing these challenges, both on the holiday and as part of an ongoing commitment throughout the year.  
Below are some of the projects taking place across the country.  Thousands more can be found at
Renewing Our Communities
·         A job fair in Lexington, KY, will include helping participants develop on-line resumes and providing free business clothing to job seekers in need.
·         An outdoor soup kitchen, clothing distribution, and other social services will be offered at the Martin Luther King Library in Washington, DC.
·         Five hundred volunteers in Jersey City will assemble "first night kits" of toiletries and clothing for people in domestic violence shelters and transitional housing facilities.
Fighting Poverty
·         Hundreds of students are fighting hunger through projects sponsored by Campus Kitchens at more than a dozen colleges.
·         An anti-hunger serve-a-thon features projects at 30 soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City.
·         In Dallas, volunteers will revitalize a 15-story building that will provide housing for hundreds of chronically homeless people and low-income residents.
Educating America's Children
·         In Seattle, the University of Washington is sponsoring dozens of projects for 1,500 students, faculty, and staff, including preparing educational supplies for youth.
·         In Des Moines, an MLK Jr. Day of Service Mentor Round Up will be held to recruit new mentors to help at-risk youth reach their potential.
·         Approximately 750 volunteers will revitalize the Van Nuys Middle School in Los Angeles by painting education-themed murals and hosting a variety of service-learning activities.  
Promoting Environmental Sustainability
·         Denver residents will receive information on reducing energy use, free recycling services and energy audits from the Mile High Youth Corps.  
·         In St. Louis, 2,000 volunteers will perform minor repairs and weatherization of homes, places of worship, schools and daycare facilities, and clean streets and alleys.
·         Students and conservationists in Charlotte, NC, will remove invasive plants from a streambed that is an important breeding ground for birds and native plants.  
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service:
In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service that brings people together from different backgrounds to meet needs in their community. The Corporation for National and Community Service was designated as the lead federal agency to execute the King Day of Service. Participation has grown every year since then its inception. The King Day of Service provides American the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King through service to meet local and national needs. For more information, visit or
The Corporation for National and Community Service:
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service each year through its core programs, Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information about the Corporation, visit
The Service-Learning Listserv (K12-SL) is for the Learn and Serve America community for discussion and information sharing related to high quality service-learning and national service.

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The CalServe Network posts news and updates of interest to the service-learning field in California. News and updates are drawn from the CalServe List Serve and the National K-12 Service-Learning List Serve and various other sources.