PAST OPPORTUNITY: National Service Agency's 2012 King Day of Service Grants

(Washington, D.C.) – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced $700,000 in grants for six organizations to plan and carry out service projects to bring Americans together to meet community needs on the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service.

The funding will support organizations across the country to engage hundreds of thousands of Americans to help students increase educational achievement, support veterans and military families, assist individuals and communities in preparing for disasters, and meet other pressing needs.  The 2012 MLK Day of Service will take place on Monday, January 16.

Teens cheering with thumbs upThe grantees form the backbone of the MLK Day of Service, supporting projects across the country through a sub-granting process taking place this fall.   Organizations receiving grants are Service for Peace  ($160,00);  Points of Light Foundation ($155,000); the Cesar Chavez Foundation ($125,000); the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System ($100,000); HOPE worldwide ($80,000); and Youth Service America  ($80,000).  A summary of the grants including purpose, proposed service areas, and subgranting plans is below.

“By dedicating this day to service, we move our nation closer to Dr. King's vision of all Americans living and working together as one beloved community,” said Robert Velasco, II, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “I salute these organizations for following in King’s footsteps and taking action to tackle problems in our communities - not just on MLK Day, but throughout the year.”

“As the life of Dr. King and the movement that he led demonstrates, ordinary people with extraordinary vision can have an impact that reverberates throughout America,” said Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights colleague of Dr. King. “The MLK Day of Service is about engaging Americans in the joy of giving and inspiring them to see this holiday differently, not as a time to rest, but as an opportunity to share in the healing work of love.”

Rep. Lewis and former Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford sponsored the 1994 legislation that designated the King Holiday as a national day of service and charged CNCS with leading this effort.  Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off.”

CNCS works with the King Center and thousands of nonprofit, education, business, and other organizations around the country to carry out the MLK Day of Service.  The day has grown from a handful of projects 16 years ago to more than 13,000 this year.   Learn more about the success of the 2011 MLK Day of Service here.

As part of its MLK activities, CNCS awards grants to intermediary organizations to help mobilize more Americans to serve on the King Holiday and throughout the year.  Service projects supported by the grants are aligned with the agency’s Strategic Plan focus areas.  Grantees were selected based on their geographic representation, how they address one or more CNCS focus areas, how they leverage private support, their impact on national service, and their opportunities to engage new and diverse groups.  Amounts listed are for the first year of a three-year grant cycle, with subsequent funding contingent on performance and appropriations.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service:
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit

About the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service:
In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service that brings people together from different backgrounds to meet needs in their community. The Corporation for National and Community Service was designated as the lead federal agency to execute the King Day of Service. The King Day of Service provides Americans the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King through service to meet local and national needs. For more information visit


Corporation for National and Community Service 2012 Martin Luther King Jr., National Day of Service Grantees

 (click “+” to see more details.)

Service for Peace

Service for Peace, based in Bridgeport, CT, will receive$160,000 grant to plan, implement, and oversee service projects in 10-12 states in the first year, establishing and maintaining a minimum of 400 projects including 100 projects that support and engage the well-being of veterans and military family members in year one. The project will engage a total of 20,000-25,000 volunteers throughout the country, including 2,500 veterans and military family members in year one; and implement a unique Service for Peace "Story of Service" educational component in 50 projects that allows military veterans to share their personal stories of service and show how these stories exemplify Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of peace through service.  Service for Peace is  planning 2012 projects in the following states: KY, OH, IN, FL, CT, CA, WA, PA, AZ, UT, NC, and GA. 

The Points of Light Foundation

The Points of Light Foundation, based in Atlanta, will receive $155,000 to mobilize 50,000 volunteers, including 2,500 Volunteer Leaders, for the 2012 MLK Day of Service. Potential sub grantees will be identified by outreach to nonprofit and corporate partners, higher education institutions, and faith-based organizations.. This effort will be combined with Points of Light’s nationwide Sunday Suppers dialogue and service program, as well as additional large scale activation projects in partnership with its affiliates, corporate partners, generationOn youth division, AmeriCorps Alums and others.  The target populations will be veterans and families of veterans. Locations under consideration include: Philadelphia, PA, Greensboro, NC, Fresno, CA, Jersey City, NJ, Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Nashville, TN, Jacksonville, FL, and Charlotte, NC.

The Cesar Chavez Foundation,

The Cesar Chavez Foundation, based in Los Angeles, will receive $125,000 to engage 10-25 community-based subgrantees located in underserved rural areas to carry out service projects on the 2012 MLK Day of Service and for continuing for the following seven months. A network of new partners will be recruited through a competitive sub-granting process to involve up to 1,750 volunteers. The project will address the strategic area of education, targeting five states (AZ, CA., NM, OR, and TX) with low educational achievement that have large Hispanic populations, for whom educational attainment is also below average.

The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, based in Madison, WI, will receive $100,000 to develop a 2012 MLK Collegiate Challenge to mobilize college students across the country to engage in service centered around education, healthy futures, and disaster preparedness and awareness.  The effort will mobilize 12,000 volunteers to serve on the MLK Jr. Holiday weekend,  support five disaster preparedness trainings,   and service opportunities on MLK Day, engage 288 community partners leveraging public-private partnerships to identify and invest in community solutions, and encourage students to continue their service by committing to serve through an alternative break.   For the 2012 MLK Collegiate Challenge, Campus Compact will award one grant of $16,000 to five Campus Compact cluster offices, and each subgrantee will provide mini-grants to a minimum of 8 higher education institutions in their cluster, managing their own competitive process.


HOPE worldwide, based in Wayne, PA, will receive a grant for $80,000 to work with partners including the American Red Cross, local fire departments and emergency management agencies, and other  groups for the “Protecting Our Neighbors" campaign.  The effort will engage and train 8,500 volunteers and 72 community partners in at least 10 states to educate their neighbors on how to prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters.  HOPE worldwide expects to award 36 subgrants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.  The program will occur beginning mid-September 2011 and will run through late March 2012, addressing the CNCS strategic focus area of disaster services by increasing the capacity of vulnerable communities to prepare for disasters and respond when they do occur.

Youth Service America

Youth Service America, based in Washington D.C., will receive an $80,000 grant for the Semester of Service Families program to provide a framework for families to serve together over an extended period of time and engage at least 75,000 youth and adult volunteers in season-long or semester-long projects in the first year, all serving on and between the September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance, MLK Day, and Global Youth Service Day. Semester of Service Families will take the process and best practices from the Semester of Service and apply it to the family to achieve community impact. The program will be open to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with grants to support Lead Organizers or School Engagement sub-grantees in 25 of the biggest cities and top media markets. YSA will utilize its extensive partnership network to recruit high-quality community leaders. YSA will target the largest cities or media markets by population. These cities include: New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL;  Philadelphia, PA; Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, TX; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA;  Washington, DC,  and Detroit, MI.

NOTE:  Amounts listed are for the first year of a three-year grant cycle, with subsequent funding contingent on performance and appropriations.