MLK Day 2014: Start a Year of Citizen Action

By Wendy Spencer and Jonathan Greenblatt

President Obama on MLK Day serving food to children

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.

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 Serve.gov 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.

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