January 21 is the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day), a national holiday during which we honor the legacy of the civil rights leader Dr. King through a day of service and volunteering.
The 2013 MLK Day commemorations coincide with the Presidential Inauguration, so President Obama is asking all citizens to join him in participating in a National Day of Service on Saturday, January 19. The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that it will host a wide range of volunteering events in Washington, DC and around the country. Additionally, the Committee is encouraging people to pledge a commitment to serve after MLK Day throughout 2013.
President Obama has been deeply committed to engaging more Americans in service since taking office in 2008. He expanded AmeriCorps through measures such as signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009 and creating the FEMA Corps program in 2012. He launched the Serve.gov platform to make it easier for Americans to find and post local volunteer opportunities.
The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was a hallmark piece of legislation.
- The Serve America Act will increase the size of AmeriCorps from 75,000 volunteers to 250,000 by 2017.
- The Act also creates a Social Innovation Fund that will invest in ideas that are proven to improve outcomes and "what works" funds in federal agencies to promote effective and innovative programs.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $201 million in funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service to support an expansion of AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps VISTA programs.
President Obama has always been a strong supporter of empowering ordinary people to do extraordinary things by improving their local communities through service. President Obama asks how we – through both existing organizations and individual action – can take an active role in America’s economic recovery and improve our fellow citizens’ lives through our service work.
Promote Sustained Civic Engagement
President Obama believes that service consists of more than a "one-off" occasion. He believes that civic engagement and service should be a lifelong commitment whether at the school, community, city, state, or national level. This includes community service, government service, and military service. By empowering people at all stages of their lives and at all levels of society to stand up and help solve problems in their own communities, the federal government will encourage sustained civic engagement that will transform those serving, the communities they help, and the nation as a whole.
President Obama believes in measuring the outcomes of service – not just the hours served or number of volunteers – to enhance what works and avoid using resources on ineffective programs. He will encourage planning, goal-setting, and execution by volunteers at the local level, so that volunteering is tied into a united and measured effort across the nation.
Reward Innovative Solutions to Pressing Social Problems
President Obama envisions a social innovation framework for the 21st century that reflects a new social contract: citizens actively and effectively serving their communities, solving problems, and connecting their service to a larger effort. Government will serve as an innovative, efficient, transparent, and accountable catalyst for service. The President will expand service opportunities to enable all Americans to enlist in an effort to meet the nation’s challenges and will leverage investments in the nonprofit sector - a critical problem-solving partner and social innovation engine. He will also promote innovations within government by seeking out what works in federal programs and expanding best practices.