FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Corporation for National and Community Service
CONTACT: Sandy Scott
Communities Gearing Up for Massive Day of Service on King Holiday
Washington DC – Communities and nonprofits across the country are gearing up for a record number of volunteers on the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal holiday, fueled by President-elect Obama’s call for Americans to serve on King Day and throughout the year.
Organizers of the annual service day say momentum is building in the wake of the President-elect’s call and the timing of the holiday coming one day before the Inauguration. In addition to asking Americans to serve, President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, and their families will participate in service on the January 19 holiday in the Washington D.C. area.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee will launch a new website next week that makes it easy for Americans to find or organize volunteer opportunities. The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that has led the national effort to transform the King Holiday into a national day of service since 1994, is working with the Presidential Inaugural Committee on the website and the larger effort.
“In this time of economic distress, Americans need to realize Dr. King’s dream of a better America. Service is a solution to some of our toughest challenges, and service is needed now more than ever,” said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation. “We are pleased to be working with the Presidential Inaugural Committee on this historic call to service. As Americans make their New Year’s resolutions, we hope volunteering will be at the top of the list, starting on the King Holiday and lasting throughout out the year.”
Participation has grown steadily since Congress passed legislation in 1994 encouraging Americans to serve on the King Holiday. Thousands of projects are planned for 2009, with more being added daily. Individuals are being encouraged to self-organize given that the demand for opportunities is expected to far exceed the supply of organized projects. Many groups are using the day of service as a springboard for year-round civic action, such as mentoring at-risk youth or school-based projects that engage students in semester-long service programs.
Last summer, the Corporation awarded grants to seven national organizations to serve in leadership roles mobilizing volunteers for the King Day of Service. These groups -- the Points of Light Institute, The Corps Network, North Carolina Campus Compact, Youth Service America, Service for Peace, Campus Kitchens, and the National Alliance of Faith and Justice – have brought on more than 130 subgrantees to carry out projects.
Other outreach activities to promote service on the King Holiday and beyond include:
- Public service ads that feature Dr. King's voice and Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., CEO and President of the King Center, have been distributed to more than 4,000 radio stations. The National Association of Broadcasters is sponsoring a “radio roadblock” when stations are encouraged to air the spot on January 15, Dr. King’s birthday.
- The Corporation has launched a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Fan page on Facebook and is working with Facebook and Facebook Causes to encourage users of the highly popular social networking site to volunteer or organize their own service projects to mark the King Holiday and Inauguration weekend.
- The King Day of Service website at http://www.mlkday.gov has a wealth of tools for planning and promoting projects, including new “do it yourself” action guides.
- The Corporation has enlisted entertainment, business, nonprofit, and sports leaders to serve as Ambassadors of Service including Jordin Sparks, Tony Dungy, and Michael W. Smith.
- ServiceNation, a coalition of more than 120 organizations campaigning to make service core ideal in our democracy, will host a service project to beautify a Washington D.C. elementary school.
In addition to the grantees listed above, national nonprofit partners for the 2009 King Day of Service include the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Red Cross, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, America's Promise, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Breakthrough Collaborative, City Year, Do Something, First Book, Habitat for Humanity International, HOPE worldwide, The King Memorial Foundation, MENTOR, National Marrow Donor Program, ServiceNation, Student Conservation Association, United Way of America, VolunteerMatch, and YouthBuild USA. Corporate partners include Cargill, Clear Channel, Comcast, Shell Oil Company, Target, and UPS.
The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation provides opportunities for four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. For more information, go to http://www.nationalservice.gov.