MCLA Receives Campus Compact Grant for MLK Day Program

On January 20, 2014, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will partner with multiple community agencies to help organize and participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. This event will mobilize more than 250 volunteers to implement service projects throughout the community, including canned food drives, environmental sustainability projects, intergenerational mentoring, and neighborhood beautification. The project will engage students and others in close to 1,000 hours of service on MLK Day while setting the stage for long-term work.

MCLA received a Campus Compact grant for this project through the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Collegiate Challenge. Spearheaded by Wisconsin Campus Compact, a lead agency in promoting the 2014 MLK Day of Service, the challenge engages colleges and universities in this national initiative to honor Dr. King’s work.

Inspired by the spirit of service and community of MLK Day, MCLA will partner with Berkshire Food Project (BFP), a local community food pantry, to develop a sustainable community service program that will position MCLA student volunteers to provide a semester of service to BFP on a consistent basis throughout the academic year. Through this new program, A Hand Up, Not A Handout, MCLA will leverage and build on the MLK Day of Service to cultivate and deepen its relationship with BFP, and strengthen community building.

On MLK Day, the director of MCLA’s Center for Service and Citizenship will facilitate thoughtful discussion and reflection amongst BFP staff, MCLA student volunteers and community members on the design and coordination of this new community service program and new relationship. MCLA’s Center for Service and Citizenship will also hire and train a student program coordinator to facilitate the program.

A Hand Up, Not A Handout will engage a minimum of ten MCLA volunteers and will be co-supervised by both MCLA’s Center for Service and Citizenship and the director of the BFP throughout the semester. Volunteers will also be recognized for their services and contributions at MCLA’s annual spring student leadership banquet. This annual event applauds student achievement, leadership and community service of all kinds. It showcases the civic engagement commitment and impact of MCLA students.

In addition to honoring the life and work of Dr. King, the MLK Day of Service serves as a way of reminding all Americans of their civic duty to serve, as well as helping members of the community to work together to solve common problems. In 2014, Campus Compact plans to mobilize over 15,000 student and community volunteers to honor the work of Dr. King and to answer what he called life’s most persistent and urgent question: “What are you doing for others?”

Read more examples of the civic engagement work being done by our member campuses.