Martin Luther King Jr. Day: What Colleges Are Doing This Year

MLK Day of ServiceBy Taylor Cotter Staff

Though many college students might choose to spend next Monday sleeping in and enjoying their last days of winter break, thousands around the country plan on honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. by spending their day volunteering in their community. MLK Day, which was named a National Day of Service in 1994, gives students an opportunity to give back to their university neighborhoods and “transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems”.

These universities have made the Day of Service into an event for the entire community:

University of Pennsylvania:

University of Pennsylvania brings out about 400 students to their annual Martin Luther King Day of Service, established in 1996 in conjunction with the Greater Philadelphia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. UPenn invites students, faculty, staff and neighbors to join in on a number of projects, including recording Books on Tape for Philadelphia Reads, Mentor Program with students from Upward Bound and School of Social Policy and Practice, and Community Beautifications Projects. The university is also hosting a candlelight vigil that evening. To get involved with these projects at UPenn, visit UPenn Day of Service.

Northeastern University:

Students at Northeastern University honor MLK by hosting a variety of organizations in the student center on campus. Some of the projects that students will be working on include working with the Mural Club to paint canvas murals for a local elementary school, decorating book folders for literacy volunteers during reading sessions with children, and planting food and learning about sustainable food practices. Throughout the day, Northeastern is also sponsoring leadership workshops where students can meet with representatives from service organizations in the Boston area. Jonas Edwards-Jenks, a third year political science and economics major is thrilled about Northeastern’s efforts. “I am excited to volunteer at Northeastern’s King Day of Service as I think this will be a great opportunity for students to not only give back to the greater community, but also become a part of it,” says Jonas. “I am looking forward to seeing the amazing impact Northeastern students can have in our surrounding neighborhoods.”

To learn more about these projects at Northeastern, visit Northeastern Center of Community Service.

Oregon Universities:

Nine colleges and universities from Oregon have teamed up to engage over 1,000 students in volunteer projects. For the third year, Concordia University, George Fox University, Lewis and Clark College, Mt. Hood Community College, Portland Community College, Portland State University, Reed College, University of Portland and Warner Pacific College have partnered with several community nonprofits to make social change throughout their state. Based out of a local high school, the college students are focusing their efforts on educational equality and civil rights. To learn more about service in Oregon schools, visit Oregon Campus Compact.

To start an MLK Day of Service at your school, or to get involved with service projects in your community, visit


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