Preliminary Report on 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service


Americans Mark 2011 MLK Day by Serving Others

Hundreds of Thousands Answer Dr. King’s Challenge: What Are You Doing for Others?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 28, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Hundreds of thousands of Americans of all ages and backgrounds joined in volunteer service projects across the country on the 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.  President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama joined cabinet secretaries, governors, mayors, nonprofit and business leaders, students, families, and others in honoring Dr. King’s legacy through service projects addressing a multitude of pressing social issues from poverty and illiteracy to hunger to homelessness.Americans made it a “a day on, not a day off” by weatherizing homes, delivering meals, refurbishing schools, collecting food and clothing, reading to children, providing employment counseling, and more. Many will use the day as the beginning of ongoing commitment to serve throughout the year. The MLK Day of Service is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the King Center in partnership with nonprofit, education, business, and other organizations around the country.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the King Holiday, and to encourage ongoing service throughout the year, the Corporation for National and Community Service launched the MLK 25 Challenge – a call to all Americans to honor Dr. King by pledging to take at least 25 actions during 2011 to make a difference for others and strengthen our communities.  There is no shortage of work to be done, or lack of ways to get involved. Become a mentor, engage in a Semester of Service, join a national service program, or find a volunteer opportunity in your community.

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  • Thousands of projects in all 50 states that engaged hundreds of thousands of Americans in service to meet local needs
  • Strong Administration participation including President Obama, Cabinet Secretaries, and senior Administration officials
  • Growing involvement by bipartisan elected officials including 13 Members of Congress, 13 Governors, and 42 Mayors
  • Significant corporate support from major US companies that supported projects with funding and volunteers
  • More than 20 civil rights leaders, public officials, entertainers, and athletes served as MLK Day of Service Ambassadors
  • More than 340,000 views of King Legacy of Service 25th Anniversary video and other MLK videos
  • Full integration of social media including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.
  • Recognized more than 600 “Drum Majors for Service” with Presidential Volunteer Service Awards
  • Extensive media coverage including PSAs, radio media tour, and coverage reaching more than 100 million Americans
  • Launched the MLK 25 Challenge to mark the 25th anniversary of the MLK Holiday and encourage year-round service

Project Highlights
Below are some highlights of 2011 King Day.  This is a small set of highlights based on preliminary reporting:

Economic Opportunity

  • In Atlanta, CNCS CEO Patrick Corvington and Board Member Eric Tanenblatt joined AmeriCorps members and volunteers organized by Hands On Atlanta to package food to be distributed to more than 10,000 Atlanta-area families in need as part of the 18th Annual MLK Service Summit
  • In Utah, more than 1,400 volunteers from Senior Corps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and other organizations gathered 10,479 clothing items and 2,845 pounds of food to distribute to local food banks and clothing closets around the state.
  • More than 300 students and athletes from Drake University in Iowa partnered with Meals for the Heartland for “Drake Feeds the Poor.” Volunteers packaged 51,840 meals for distribution to hungry people in the local community and around the world.
  • Minnesota’s AmeriCorps InterCorps Council organized 150 volunteers to serve more than 430 hours in 16 projects to address the issues of hunger and food security.  Volunteers collected and sorted 4,500 pounds of food, packed nearly 400 boxes for local food shelves, created 5,000 seed packets for community gardens, and built a compost bin.
  • In Phoenix, 57 volunteers organized by HandsOn Greater Phoenix VISTA distributed 12,000 brochures door-to-door about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program which offers free income tax services for low-income individuals.
  • In Dallas, TX, volunteers with the Soupmobile Blanket Drive distributed more than 1,000 blankets to homeless.
  • In Boise, ID, AmeriCorps VISTA Members assigned to Idaho Food Bank staged a “backpack build” event which filled 6,200 food sacks ready to be placed into backpacks which are to be distributed to low income children for weekend meals.


  • In Washington D.C., President Obama, cabinet officials, students, AmeriCorps members and others made up a volunteer force more than 2,600 strong who refurbished or beautified 22 schools on MLK Day.  In four schools, City Year AmeriCorps members and volunteers helped schools create recycling programs, built ramps to help the school become more handicap accessible, painted inspirational quotes and murals in the hallways and stairwells, built benches for their outdoor courtyards and spaces, and participated in an oral history project with the MLK Library.
  • In Los Angeles, CA, LA Works with more than 1,000 community and corporate volunteers revitalized the campus of Rosemont Elementary School, a Title I school in Los Angeles, to commemorate MLK Jr. Day.
  • In Puerto Rico, 124 AmeriCorps members collected more than 2,500 books for community-based and municipal libraries at collection stations in San Juan, Bayamon, Arecibo, Ceiba Mayagüez and Cataño municipal squares.
  • In Stamford, CT, Black Connecticut and Univ. of Connecticut-Stamford hosted an education and college fair that provided information and resources on all education resources ranging from pre-school to advanced degrees including resume review, college application review, financial aid training and more.
  • In Compton, CA, more than 300 volunteers including CNCS board member Hyepin Im attended a day-long service project at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum’s hangar at the Compton Airport. A mobile health fair was offered, school supplies were collected & sorted for distribution, Financial Literacy lessons were taught, and the hangar was transformed to set up a Hands-on STEM Lab for students that will allow students to apply math and science principles from school to actual projects, including building a real aircraft and a robotics team.


  • Foster Grandparents in Batesville, AR, participated in the a nationwide MLK Day project “Help Us Learn, Give Us Hope” which collects schools supplies to send to soldiers in Iraq and Afganistan who give them to the children and schools.
  • In Wilmington DE, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and First Lady of Delaware, Carla Markell joined hundreds of volunteers in the New Castle County RSVP “Letters to Soldiers” MLK Day project.  More than 260 letters were written and 400 coats collected for a coat drive coordinated by AmeriCorps VISTA.
  • Senior Corps Director Erwin Tan MD joined volunteers with Mission Continues to paint rooms and prepare and serve lunch at a veterans home in Baltimore, MD.
  • Fifteen RSVP volunteers from the Harrison County Handyman Brigade in Mississippi made significant repairs to the home of a retired veteran who has difficulty walking and whose home was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  The RSVP volunteers built hand railings to prevent him from falling, installed dead bolt locks, and made other repairs to make the home safer.
  • In Lihue, HI, more than 100 Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent volunteers along with project staff gave the Oahu Veterans Center a thorough cleaning, including wiping down tables and chairs, mopping floors and cleaning windows.
  • In Beckley, WV, AmeriCorps members with the Appalachian Coal Country team visited with veterans at the Beckley VA Medical Center and helped them write postcards to active duty soldiers.
  • In Iowa City, Elder Services, Inc. RSVP, in partnership with the West Liberty Treats for Troops project, engaged students, teachers and other volunteers to write 232 letters expressing thanks to Iowa soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
  • Senior Corps volunteers in Utah wrote 495 letters to soldiers serving in combat, gathered 153 cell phones for soldiers, and donated 66 education DVD’s to the Veterans Home.
  • In Buffalo, NY, AmeriCorps members and volunteers provided an “extreme weatherization makeover including new furnaces, windows and plumbing fixtures for a disabled Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War.

Disaster Services

  • In Raleigh, NY, Triangle Churches partnered with the American Red Cross and more than 300 volunteers who went to 10,000 homes and educate neighbors about fire prevention.
  • In Parkersburg, WV, Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council volunteers made and delivered 500 blizzard boxes containing food, water, a solar blanket, a flashlight, and other Isolated at risk adults to prepare for a winter emergency.
  • Across the country, volunteers serving with the American Red Cross distributed fire safety information to help area residents prevent home fires, protect their loved ones and strengthen their community.
  • In Gulfport, MS, Harrison County RSVP Handyman Brigade MLK Project engaged 15 RSVP Volunteers who made significant repairs to the home of Mr. James Davis.  Mr. Davis is a retired veteran who has lived in his home independently; he has difficulty walking and his mobility was further challenged by damages to his home caused by Hurricane Katrina.  The RSVP volunteers built hand railings on the front and back stairs and installed dead bolt locks on both doors in his home to make his home more secure.  Mr. Davis says he now feels safer in his home and he will also save money on his homeowners insurance because of the repairs these RSVP volunteers completed.
  • On MLK Day 2011, HOPE worldwide volunteers served in 119 different communities in 29 states, partnering with more than 70 organizations in a variety of projects including canvassing in low income, fire vulnerable neighborhoods alongside Red Cross volunteers, talking about fire safety and emergency planning, and installing new smoke detectors for families.


  • In Shelby, MI, student volunteers hosted a mobile pantry, organizing 5,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and other food items to be divided equally among roughly 125 area families in need; each family received roughly 40 pounds of food. In addition to the mobile pantry, there was a station set up inside Shelby Middle School where students made fleece blankets that were donated to needy families.
  • In Washington DC, Kid Power, Inc led two projects, one of which launched a four-month project titled Citizen Farm Project. Youth learned about the project and participated in 5 stations (physical activity game; hands on educational nutrition activities; cooking demo; making sandwiches to donate to homeless shelter; and making skits about healthy living)
  • Employees from Kaiser Permanente offered community members free blood pressure and body mass index screenings through a Mobile Health Vehicle stationed in Hyattsville, MD, and other Kaiser Permanente volunteers screened for diabetes, cholesterol, and HIV at the United Community Ministries Health Fair in Alexandria, VA.
  • Students and volunteers at Baylor University in Waco, TX, launched a community garden to improve nutrition for children, enhance the classroom experience of Baylor students, serve as a demonstration and teaching site for schools and urban gardeners, encourage healthy lifestyles and strengthen bridges to the community in a fresh, healthy and useful environment.

Environmental Stewardship

  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City of Los Angeles in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service sponsored two days of service at nine LAUSD Schools.  More than 1,200 volunteers logged over 4,800 hours at nine LAUSD school sites, creating new gardens, restoring native habitats, engaging in garden maintenance, planting trees and painting over graffiti at several schools.
  • AmeriCorps VISTA members serving with Brick City Services City of Service Initiative in Newark NJ are coordinating an event spanning 25 days to engage more than 100 volunteers to  weatherize 100 homes of low-income seniors in Newark.. Working in teams, the volunteers will install energy efficient lightbulbs, weather strip round windows and doors, and educate residents on energy and cost saving strategies.
  • In partnership with Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful, volunteers with Service for Peace cleaned and landscaped 10 miles of roadways, parks, and playgrounds and cleaned 59 acres of wetlands, resulting in 40,323 pounds of trash collected.

City-Wide Projects

  • More than 75,000 volunteers served in 1,200 projects in the 16th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest in the country.  Among other projects, volunteers refurbished 100 computers and created digital access kits to connect low-income people to jobs, education, and emergency preparedness resources.
  • In Chicago, IL, more than 3,000 volunteers logged over 15,000 hours of service in 40 projects around Chicago.  Volunteers spent the day tutoring students, beautifying schools, engaging in craft projects, painting, and reflecting on Dr. King and his message of service. VIPs included Mayor Richard Daley, Governor Pat Quinn, and Chris Gardner.
  • After a kickoff program featuring Trenton, NJ Mayor Tony and City Council members, 200 volunteers fanned out to complete seven beautification projects at local schools and community organizations, and delivering food bags to homebound people.
  • In Oregon’s Multnomah County, more than 1,200 volunteers from 8 local colleges/universities and 2 local high collected over 10,000 signatures to allow donations through tax returns, restored walking trails, planted over 10,000 trees and shrubs, refurbished books, removed invasive plants, made well wish cards “love letters” for children who are ill, organized and delivered food boxes, answered prisoner mail, delivered usable scrap supplies for local schools and nonprofits.
  • In Alabama, Hands On Birmingham partnered with United Way of Central Alabama to celebrate MLK Day. 1,300 volunteers participated in activities including visiting with the elderly, feeding at soup kitchens, building with Habitat for Humanity, sorting donations, and cleaning schools.

MLK Day Of Service Grantees
The organizing backbone of the 2011 MLK Day of Service Day was the Corporation’s MLK Day of Service grantees.  Below is anticipated or preliminary data from the six grantees.

  • The Points of Light Institute and its HandsOn Network engaged more than 94,000 volunteers and 3,600 volunteer leaders in approximately 1,400 projects benefitting more than 850,000 people, and hosted the MLK America’s Sunday Supper webcast featuring civic leaders and celebrities discussing how each of us can continue the work of Dr. King through service.
  • Service for Peace sponsored 296 project sites that engaged more than 16,700 volunteers in literacy, poverty, financial education, nonviolence, environment, peace, beautification, and health projects.
  • North Carolina Campus Compact mobilized more than 12,000 college students in 557 projects in 24 states, including writing thank-you letters to troops; refurbishing a community garden; coordinating a blood drive; participating in a science fair; visiting the elderly at nursing homes, and cleaning up the environment at local parks and recreation areas.
  • The National Alliance for Faith and Justice sponsored engaged more than 10,600 volunteers in 37 project sites across the country aimed at recruiting mentors, reducing youth violence, and helping young people succeed.
  • Campus Kitchens engaged more than 2,900 volunteers in 94 hunger relief projects in 18 states across the US, including creating new Campus Kitchens, building community gardens, assisting hunger programs, and serving more than 2,000 meals.
  • Youth Service America worked with schools across the country to use MLK Day to launch Semester of Service, a service-learning framework where students apply classroom learning to addressing a critical need in the community.

White House and Cabinet
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their family participated in the a school revitalization project at Stuart Hobson Middle School in Washington DC, where they joined Greater DC Cares mentor mentee pairs in painting and beautifying the school   Other federal officials served in MLK projects including:

  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined with CNCS board member Stan Soloway and Julie Fisher Cummings and City Year AmeriCorps members to help beautify Kramer Middle School
  • Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes joined volunteers at Ballou High School to cover up graffiti and clean up around the school
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki served meals at So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.).
  • EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson joined a Kid Power Inc. Citizen Farm Community Service Event at Tubman Elementary School
  • Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew participated in a City Year New York service event at Intermediate School 292.
  • Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams prepared and served dinners at Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C.
  • USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah prepared, served, and shared in a community meal with over 60 guests experiencing homelessness and hunger with the Youth Service Opportunities Project at the Church of Epiphany.
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Gil Kerlikowkse and other ONDCP staff participated in a variety of projects, including painting, light plumbing work and light carpentry, at the homes of several Maryland Gold Star families.

Elected Officials
Reflecting the strong bipartisan support for citizen service, a growing number of elected officials from both parties across the country participated in the 2011 MLK Day of Service.  At least 13 Members of Congress, 13 Governors, and 42 Mayors joined in MLK Day activities including volunteering or speaking at service projects, serving as MLK Day Ambassadors, issuing proclamations, or encouraging their constituents to serve through PSAs and social media.  Some of the newly elected officials participating in the MLK Day of Service also hosted inaugural events spotlighting the value and impact of service, a sign of growing bipartisan support highlighted by CNCS Board Vice Chair Eric Tanenblatt in an op-ed in Politico that ran on MLK Day.

Strategic Partners
More than 100 strategic (nonprofit) partners and 16 national corporate partners signed on to promote service on MLK Day through their networks, and/or organize projects themselves.  Partners included: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, America’s Promise, American Red Cross, B.E.Y.A Leader Youth Organization, Business Civic Leadership Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club of America, The Case Foundation, Do Something, The EMILY Fund, Feeding America, 4-H, Global Youth Justice, Habitat for Humanity, HOPE worldwide, The Kindness Connection, Lutheran Services in America, MENTOR, National CASA Association, National Council of La Raza, ServiceNation, United Way, Uplift Community Foundation, YouthBuild, and Youth Volunteer Corps.  A full list is available on the Strategic Partners page of
Corporate Involvement

A growing number of companies supported the 2011 King Day of Service by providing project funding, organizing projects for employees, and allowing employees time off to serve.  Companies reporting engagement include: Allstate, Accenture, APCO Worldwide, Aramark, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, Capital One, Case Foundation, The Coca Cola Company, Citi and Citi Foundation, CVS/Caremark, Delta, Frito Lay, General Mills, Google, The Home Depot Foundation, Honest Tea, ING, Intel Corporation, Kraft Foods, Macy’s, Malichi Group Worldwide, Manpower, Microsoft, Microsoft Partners in Education, MTV Networks, Penn Law, Pfizer, Shell, Spark People, Starbucks, State Farm, Target, United Health, UPS, and Walmart.

  • Google branded their homepage for MLK Day, helping to drive a record 300,000+ visits to, promoted CNCS’ MLK 25th Anniversary and Youth Helping Others videos its YouTube homepage, and provided donated and online advertising that generated more than 8.5 million impressions.
  • Microsoft Partners In Education launched MLK inspired socially-minded service learning challenges for their online game InterroBang, engaging young players in working alone or in teams to tackle local challenges through service.
  • Through their on-line community and social media platforms, Spark People will encourage their users to engage in the MLK  25 Challenge.
  • In addition to their support for The Salute to Greatness Dinner in Atlanta and the Let Freedom Ring Celebration and Concert in Washington, DC, Target sponsored service projects in 15 cities around the country, engaging employees and community members in a day of action.

Media Coverage
The 2011 MLK Day of Service generated extensive national, regional, and local media coverage.  CNCS and its partners expanded coverage in three key areas: (1) local stories about service projects and community-based organizations offering innovative solutions in our strategic focus areas; (2) coverage reaching communities of color with opinion leaders highlighting the impact that a sustained commitment to service can have for expanding opportunity; and (3) coverage mentioning CNCS, our programs, and/or the website. Visit National Service in the News for links to 350 news stories.  Key highlights:

More than 375 print and online articles, including two national AP stories carried by newspapers across the country and and extensive coverage in top national and regional papers including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Arizona Republic, Detroit News, and USA Today.

  • National and local broadcast interviews and stories, including NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, and NPR.
  • Specialty media including Roland Martin’s Washington Watch, Essence Magazine, BET, Ebony, American Urban Radio (300+ stations), and The Root
  • Op-eds in Politico, Huffington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, National Journal, Chicago Defender, and LA Sentinel
  • Distribution of MLK Day of Service radio PSAs to 3,500 stations, resulting in approximately $8 million in donated support and 180 million audience impressions

MLK Day Ambassadors
This year the Corporation’s MLK Day of Service Ambassadors program engaged more than 20 national leaders including civil rights icons, academics, professional athletes, and entertainers. The Ambassadors included U.S. Representative John Lewis, Monique Coleman, Jurnee Smollett, Craig Newmark, Chris Draft and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond. These individuals promoted MLK Day to a broad audience, and some volunteering in local service projects.  Click here to see a full list.

New Media
The Corporation fully integrated social media into all aspects of the 2011 MLK Day of Service.  We had a record 300,000+ visits to this year, more than 19,000 Facebook fans, more than 4,000 Twitter followers, and 751 Flickr photos to date. Google featured the MLK Legacy of Servcie 25th Anniversary Video on the YouTube home page garnering more than 227,000 views. Across the country, volunteers shared their pictures, videos and stories using the #MLKDay hashtag, and hundreds of volunteers shared their stories of service on  Working with the White House New Media Team, Patrick A. Corvington was featured on the White House blog. We also featured guest blog posts and cross posts from other agencies highlighting their principles serving.  Finally, we kicked off the MLK25 Challenge ( an initiative that will be promoted through Facebook and Twitter to encourage Americans to commit to 25 acts of service throughout the year.

What People Are Saying

  • “What united the victims of the tragedy on Saturday was service – they volunteered in church or at soup kitchens, worked in government, and tended to their communities. On behalf of Gabby and our family, I ask that you consider honoring their commitment to service by dedicating a few hours on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.”  Captain Mark Kelly, Navy pilot, NASA astronaut and husband of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.
  • “Dr. King obviously had a dream of justice and equality in our society, but he also had a dream of service, that you could be a drum major for service, that you could lead by giving back to our communities.  And that’s what this program is all about and that’s what these participants are all about. Michelle and I the girls are extraordinarily proud that each year on Martin Luther King’s birthday this is how we celebrate, is making sure that we’re giving a little something back to the community.”     –President Barack Obama
  • “Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of advice, “everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” are never truer than on his annual Day of Service. As a result, hundreds of Michigan citizens will volunteer their time, talent and resources today. Their efforts will impact countless individuals and give hope to those in need — all thanks to King’s teachings and legacy.”  Jim Vella, President of the Ford Motor Co. Fund
  • “Assisting at food banks or organizing drives, neighborhood cleanups, donating blood are examples of ways to honor King’s legacy, and a form of celebration just about anyone should be able to embrace — and something we should incorporate into our daily lives rather than saving it for only one of the 365 days in a year.”   Daily Times (DE) Editorial
  • “A commitment to service is something that we want to encourage everybody to do, I think that’s how we can make a difference.  And Dr. King truly was the leader in showing us a life committed in service to others.”  Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
  • “We were down, but they’re pulling us up. We never lost faith, and they’re giving us a new start.”   Richard Camille, an senior in New Iberia, LA, whose home was repaired by AmeriCorps members and volunteers on MLK Day.

The 2012 King Day of Service will take place on Monday, January 16, 2012.   We encourage you to get involved.  For more information, visit

Ashley Etienne
Phone: 202-606-6944

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