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USA Freedom Corps Partnering to Answer the President’s Call to Service

Friday, January 23, 2009

CONTACT: Sandy Scott

Phone: 202-606-6724
Email: [email protected]


Yes We Did! 2009 King Day of Service is Largest Ever


President-Elect Obama’s Call to Service Drives Record Turnout

President-elect Obama paints walls of a shelter for homeless teens in Washington D.C.

College students with Campus Kitchens assemble food donations in Waco, TX

Vice President-elect Biden cuts drywall with Habitat AmeriCorps member in Washington D.C.

(Washington, DC) – Fueled by President Obama’s call to service, the 2009 King Day of Service experienced a historic level of participation, as Americans across the country honored Dr. King by serving their communities on the January 19 King Holiday. In total, more than 13,000 projects took place, more than doubling last year’s record of 5,000 projects. This historic turnout is the largest ever in the 14 years since Congress encouraged Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this national effort.

Americans in all 50 states made it a “a day on, not a day off” by delivering meals, refurbishing schools, reading to children, signing up mentors, planting trees, and much, much more. Given the huge increase in projects and the countless number of self-organized or spontaneous efforts it is difficult to estimate total volunteers, but participation is likely to have surpassed the one million mark, double last year’s turnout. While 2009 King Day is passed, our work has just begun. Fulfilling Dr. King’s dream and making America “what it ought to be” will take a large-scale, long-term commitment. Americans are encouraged to answer the President’s call and continue working toward King’s dream by becoming a mentor, promoting nonviolence, engaging in a Semester of Service, joining a national service program, or finding a volunteer opportunity in your community.


  • More than 13,000 projects, a 162% increase over last year’s record of 5,000 projects
  • Unprecedented participation from public officials including President-elect Barack and Michelle Obama, Vice President–elect Joe and Dr. Jill Biden, Cabinet Secretaries, House Speaker Pelosi and other Members of Congress, Governors, and Mayors
  • Pioneering use of social media including 45,000 members of the King Day of Service Facebook Cause, 401real-time photos sent to Flickr, 600 tweets on Twitter, and 1,540 pledges and 16,000 actions taken using the MLK Self-Organizing Tool
  • King Day of Service resolution passed by U.S. House of Representatives
  • Unprecedented media coverage with thousands of stories including lead stories on national network, cable, and print outlets
  • Growing corporate involvement from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses
  • Partnership with the Presidential Inaugural Committee and collaboration on website
  • Web traffic to more than doubled from last year with 715,080 visitors and 1.3 million page views


Below are some highlights of 2009 King Day. Please note that this is a small set of highlights based on preliminary reporting:

  • More than 65,000 volunteers served in 900 projects in 14th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest in the country, and launched MLK 365, a new year-round initiative promoting service throughout the year.
  • A record 32,500 volunteers, including President-elect Obama and Mayor Adrian Fenty, served at 182 projects in Washington DC including school renovations, tree planting, creek restoration, and home construction.
  • Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden and Ashley Biden joined more than 10,000 volunteers at RFK Memorial Stadium in Washington DC to assemble over 85,000 care packages to send to our troops.
  • Service For Peace and its partners engaged 13,183 volunteers in 250 projects in 15 cities and 11 states, contributing 60,000 hours of service in nonviolence, literacy, poverty, financial education, environment, peace, beautification, and health projects. An additional 7,000 volunteers will be engaged in their ongoing 40 Days of Peace campaign
  • The Points of Light Institute and its HandsOn Network planned to engage more than 100,000 volunteers in projects across the country that are expected to serve more than one million Americans.
  • The National Alliance for Faith and Justice recruited mentors for children of prisoners and other at-risk youth at more than 425 places of worship as part of Justice Sunday.
  • Campus Kitchens engaged hundreds of college students and volunteers in leading hunger relief programs across the US, including in Washington DC where volunteers helped prepare 5,000 meals for delivery on King Day.
  • The Corps Network engaged 8,639 volunteers who performed 58,155 hours of service including renovating community agencies, painting cabins, planting trees, collecting food, assembling care packages, and more.
  • More than 16,000 college students from 130 campuses in 28 states engaged in King Day service projects organized by Campus Compact, ranging from neighborhood clean-ups to preparing and serving meals to hospice patients.
  • ServiceNation and Target held a “New Era of Service” breakfast and service project featuring Martin Luther King III, Mayor Adrian Fenty, Congressman John Lewis, Congressman George Miller, Congresswoman Matsui, California First Lady Maria Shriver, Incoming Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and Tobey Maguire and more
  • In Dr. King’s birthplace, more than 24,000 volunteers served through 50 projects organized by Hands On Atlanta as part of the 16th annual Hands On Atlanta Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Summit.
  • More than 600 Boys and Girls Clubs engaged members in community clean ups, writing letters to soldiers, organizing food drives, visiting senior centers and creating care packages for sick children.
  • The American Red Cross teamed up with HOPE Worldwide to engage volunteers in 25 cities to canvass door-to-door and provide fire safety information to thousands of residents.
  • At events across America, City Year’s 1,500 AmeriCorps members joined 2,500 middle school and high school students pledging to serve throughout the spring engaging in service through the Young Heroes and City Heroes program,


  • “Dr. Martin Luther King’s was a life lived in loving service to others. As we honor that legacy, it’s not a day just to pause and reflect – it’s a day to act. And I ask the American people to turn today’s efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities, and their country.” — President Barack Obama
  • “We never wanted this holiday to be about hero worship. If he were here, he would be the first person to say, don’t sit around on the King Holiday talking about how great I am. Get out and help someone.” – Isaac Newton Farris Jr, President and CEO of the King Center and nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “We know that a lot of us doing just a little can make a major contribution….The goal is to keep that going throughout the year.” – Martin Luther King, III
  • “Martin Luther King was always a big believer, and talked about that no matter what your talents are, everyone has one talent, and that is that we can reach out and help other people.” – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California
  • “Change has come to America, but we are the reality of that change by simply becoming part of service projects, volunteerism. That is change in motion.” – Usher, Entertainer


The 2009 King Day of Service received unprecedented national, regional and local media coverage. National broadcast and cable coverage included multiple pieces on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, BET, and MTV. USA Today and the Washington Post ran lead King Day editorials and covered the day of service several times. There were more than 5,000 regional and local print, television and radio stories. The Corporation’s radio media tour for King Center CEO Isaac Newton Farris yielded 28 interviews airing on 4,600 stations reaching 31 million listeners. The Corporation’s King Day radio PSAs aired more than 24,000 times reach 75 million listeners in the month leading up to King Day.


Government officials on the federal, state, and local level joined in King Day projects on an unprecedented scale including President-elect Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice-President-elect Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Cabinet Secretary Designees Eric Holder (Attorney General), Janet Napolitano (Homeland Security), Hilda Solis (Labor), Ken Salazar (Interior), Tom Vilsack (Agriculture), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Gregoire (WA), Gov. O’Malley (MD), Gov. Granholm (MI), Corporation Board members Laysha Ward, Alan Solomont, Jim Palmer, Stan Soloway, Hyepin Im and Acting CEO Nicola Goren, and many others.


The organizing backbone of the 2009 King Day of Service Day was the Corporation’s King Day of Service grantees: 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. Other national partners include AARP, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Red Cross, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, America’s Promise, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Breakthrough Collaborative, Causecast, City Year, Do Something, First Book, Habitat for Humanity International, HOPE worldwide, The King Memorial Foundation, Lutheran Social Services. MENTOR, National Marrow Donor Program, ServiceNation, Student Conservation Association, United Way of America, VolunteerMatch, and YouthBuild USA.


Corporations across the country helped make the 2008 King Day of Service the most successful ever by providing project funding, organizing projects for employees, and allowing employees time off to take part in activities. Major companies participating or supporting the King Day of Service included Target, Shell Oil Company, Bank of America, Best Buy, Cargill, Clear Channel Communications, Comcast, Delta, Kaiser Permanente, UPS, ING Americas, Sprint, and Wal-Mart.


The 2010 King Day of Service will take place on January 18, 2010. We encourage you to get involved. For more information, visit



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


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