For many companies, especially in the U.S., MLK Day is traditionally a "day on, not a day off." Corporate volunteer managers spend weeks planning volunteer opportunities to share with their fellow employees, hoping to kick-off a year-long commitment to serve. This year is no different.
We’ve compiled a list of resources to help guide you in planning a meaningful celebration of the legacy of Dr. King.
For those considering mobilizing employees in service to their communities, check out Points of Light’s extensive database of volunteer opportunities, Engage, or connect with our global affiliate network. Many network members like LA Works, Volunteer New York!, and HandsOn Atlanta are curating or planning virtual and in-person projects that will take place on or around the King Day of Service. To get inspired, watch a recording of an AmeriCorps webinar hosted in November to encourage organizations to begin planning ways they can be “Stepping Up for the Fierce Urgency of Now.” We also have a collection of youth-oriented project guides for those who want to share DIY instructions with employees who enjoy creating at-home impact while working alongside family and friends.
Due to the limitations of COVID-19 over the past two years, we’ve seen more and more companies interested in building awareness and empathy among their employees. Companies have engaged their workforce in learning about complex issues like equity and human rights, and there could not be a more fitting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy to do more of the same!
- Use MLK Day as a starting point for a 21-day Listen & Learn challenge similar to AT&T, or share the resources we’ve curated as part of our Listen.Learn.Act to End Racism conversations in partnership with Morehouse College. Recordings of past conversations are available here. Consider extending employee learning and listening sessions into February, which is traditionally Black History Month in the U.S., Women’s History Month in March, and continue these educational efforts throughout the rest of the year.
- We’ll be hosting a stirring Listen.Learn.Act to End Racism conversation on Jan. 13. Watch CECE for registration details once available and encourage your employees to participate.
- Deepen employees’ understanding of their own civic superpowers by sharing our Civic Life Today digital magazines. Each magazine covers one action an individual can take to make a positive impact in their community while also exploring how privilege plays a role. Employees will find stories, inspiration and additional resources to have meaningful conversations about civic life with family members.
- Encourage employees to host conversations around the virtual dinner table with family, friends, and neighbors. Enlist the help of an organization like Inclusivv or review our Courageous Conversation project guide for ideas. Engaging in dialogue with those who have diverse sets of views enables bridge building and gets us one step closer to the Beloved Community that Dr. King envisioned.
Rather than activating employees in tribute to MLK’s legacy, use the holiday as a moment to communicate progress made on corporate commitments to racial equity in response to the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. For companies that are still on the journey of inward reflection and aligning corporate citizenship work with DEI strategy and infrastructure, review and share the resources created by the Corporate Racial Equity Alliance, a joint initiative of JUST Capital, FSG and PolicyLink. They’ve developed a 2021 CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity that aims to help companies move from commitment to action. For a more local perspective, take time to review Brookings report, “From commitments to action: How CEOs can advance racial equity in their regional economies,” which offers the C-suite an actionable framework for making significant progress toward a more equitable economy, starting in their headquarters’ regions.
For those considering using the day as an opportunity to recognize and lift up employees who embody MLK’s values or amplify the good work of your nonprofit partners that strive everyday to create a more just society, AmeriCorps has put together a communications toolkit that includes key messaging, press release and proclamation templates, social media graphics, logos, and suggested hashtags. You might also consider using this annual milestone to nominate an employee volunteer or volunteer leader as a Daily Point of Light or remind employees about the President’s Volunteer Service Award. We have published some additional guidance around recognition strategies on CECE.
Lastly, if you happen to have concentrations of employees in the metro Atlanta area, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., you’ll find some amazing activities taking place either on or around Jan. 17, 2022, compiled by the MLK Collective. Check them out here.
We'd love to hear your company's plans for celebrating MLK Day and the National Day of Service. Share them in the comments below!
All images and quotes sourced from the internet in December 2021