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This article by Wendy Spencer and Jonathan Greenblatt originally appeared on The White House Blog on Jan. 17, 2013.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to improving the world in which he lived—and challenged the rest of us to do the same. He not only championed the equal rights but also equal access to economic opportunity for all Americans. This year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service will honor his legacy as hundreds of thousands of Americans pay tribute by serving their communities on Monday, Jan. 20.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, President Barack Obama serves lunch in the dining room at So Others Might Eat, a soup kitchen in Washington, DC, Jan. 18, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




We know there is a great deal we can do to help our cities and neighborhoods thrive, and as President Obama said last week, “the American people … are ready and willing to pitch in and help.” MLK Day exemplifies this spirit as individuals and families around the country come together on this day every year to strengthen their communities through service and volunteering. Through their deeds, they demonstrate that service can accelerate progress on our most pressing priorities.

To encourage more Americans to serve and use them more effectively, the Federal government already manages programs such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and Senior Corps. Yet we can still do more to help communities that need our help. For this reason, the President created the Task Force on Expanding National Service last summer. The Task Force focuses on helping more Americans find ways to serve through new interagency partnerships such as FEMA Corps and public-private partnerships such as the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

And we hope you’ll get out this Monday to volunteer. You can find projects in your area by visiting or following #MLKDayofService on Twitter.

Please join us in making MLK Day the start of a “year of action.”

Wendy Spencer is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service and co-chair of the Task Force on Expanding National Service. Jonathan Greenblatt is Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Domestic Policy Council. 

Keywords: Economic Opportunity, National Day of Service, President Obama, volunteering, Wendy Spencer, White House
When 5-year old Andy Fass attended his first baseball game, it was hard to imagine it would change his life. But a chance meeting with legendary Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte gave Fass the desire to try a game he thought he would never play.
Stefanie Dwyer’s childhood in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall shaped her future in a unique way. After growing up in a country that had many limitations, Dwyer held on to memories of horseback riding that inspired her to bring that sense of freedom to people with physical and mental challenges.
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Jorge Muñoz's 2004 encounter with homeless day laborers sounds like the pivotal moment in the latest feel-good movie. But the “Angel in Queens” wouldn't be providing up to 140 meals nightly if the need in their words didn't resonate with him: “If we have a job, we will get money to eat tonight; if not, we don't eat anything.”
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The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
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As thousands of service leaders gathered at National Conference on Volunteering and Service today, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer announced $213 million in new AmeriCorps grants to strengthen the impact of more than 275 organizations across the country in tackling the most pressing challenges facing communities and the nation.
Today the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced the winners of the 2012 Service Impact Awards at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago.
Next week, CNCS is headed to Chicago for the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. There, over 1000 members of the national service family will join the more than 4000 conference attendees for three days of service-focused conversations, lessons, and sessions.
Today's Wordless Wednesday celebrates National Smile Month with a look at the joy volunteers experience while giving back. With smiles like these, who wouldn't volunteer?
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
In October 2010, I began my first year of service as an AmeriCorps member with the Community Building Partnerships for Youth in Transition program in Denver, Colorado. I was placed with the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver in the Community Programs Branch at Bruce Randolph School and tasked with mentoring ten youth over the course of the year – a job I found both intimidating and exciting.
Minnesota Reading Corps, an AmeriCorps program designed to help every child in the state become a successful reader by the end of third grade, announced positive growth in its results with numbers that surpassed those for students statewide.
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The Social Innovation Fund is excited to announce the applicants to the 2012 grant competition. We received 31 applications by the due date of March 27, of which 25 were compliant and moved on to the full competition.
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We would all like to believe we control our own destiny. But experiences teach us we are sometimes shaped by forces outside ourselves: the opportunities we encounter, the people we meet, those who mentor us, and the communities that surround us. This is not to say that our paths are prescribed—but that we need the skills to recognize and seize opportunities that come our way.
Earlier this week, National Service traveled to Missouri to help the community of Joplin mark the one-year anniversary of the tornado that struck the town last year. The response to the destruction has been remarkable - with volunteers traveling from near and far to help rebuild Joplin. On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, thousands of Joplin residents, volunteers, and supporters came together to honor those lost and celebrate the last year's progress.
One year ago today, Joplin MO was ravaged by a devastating E5 tornado. In the 12 months that followed, the community responded with an unmatched sense of hope and a determination to rebound. National Service is proud to have been a part of these recovery efforts and continues to provide services there today.
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To mark the one-year anniversary of the May 22 Joplin tornado, we'll be featuring a variety of content on the blog, including Q&As with those who served in the community, like this one.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the May 22 Joplin tornado, we'll be featuring a variety of content on the blog, including Q&As with those who served in the community, like this one.
On April 20, Nebraska young people paused for seven seconds of silence. These students and young adults were illustrating the fact that every seven seconds someone in our country is bullied. Together, 61,709 students and youth in communities across Nebraska made a personal pledge to fight bullying and stand up for those who are bullied.
May is a time of graduations, fresh spring air and new beginnings. But for many, graduation from high school or college is far from a reality, and opportunities for a fresh start are out of reach. At least one in six young people ages 16-24 are disconnected from school and work – the two pathways that provide the greatest hope for a bright and productive future. Yet, these young people dream of building careers and making important contributions to our communities. That's why we see them as “Opportunity Youth.”
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