Creative Ways to Start and Grow MLK Day of Service Initiatives
The following tips are based on work being done by the Arizona and Oregon Commissions on National and Community Service. Although some of the tips are specific to state commissions for national and community service, most of this information can be adapted to your organization or program.
- Join an existing King Holiday planning committee. Many states have King Holiday commissions that meet to plan for a birthday celebration honoring Dr. King. Introduce service as a way to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. Position service as an add-on, not a replacement to the regular celebration.
- Offer mini-grants as a way to get a seat at the planning committee table and to encourage community groups to include service in their King Holiday observances.
- Suggest an ongoing or year-round service initiative rather than serving only on the MLK holiday.
- Pitch relevant and convenient service ideas as an addition to the regular celebration.
- Utilize your access to the governor’s office and state capital to raise the celebration to a state-level event. If you are not a state commission, partner with one to do this.
- Ask the governor to videotape an introduction to the group’s celebration event.
- Encourage the governor’s staff and state employees to serve on MLK Day.
- Team up with planning committee members to reach out to the specific groups they represent, such as educators and community organizations, to encourage their participation.
- Refer to the national website, www.MLKDay.gov, to help people to better understand that they are a part of a national effort.
- Promote statewide volunteerism through MLK Day.
- Promote Dr. King’s dream of the Beloved Community - striving to build a community full of love, where the triple evils of poverty, racism and war are not present. Use the triple evils as a lens through which you identify service projects in communities.
- Incorporate other national days of service starting with MLK Day and continuing throughout the year.
- Leverage the media to further your work. Connect your work to the larger national effort when working with the media.
- Promote and partner with national service programs through MLK Day:
- Senior Corps—Foster Grandparent Program, Senior Companion Program, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
- AmeriCorps—including VISTA and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)
- Learn and Serve America