MLK Day of Service and Leadership

Image of Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service and Leadership

As part of the GW celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members are invited to participate in a day of service, leadership development and interfaith dialogue. Last year, over 600 participants gathered for the opening program with keynote speakers and headed to service sites both on and off campus and participated in leadership workshops. 


This year, due to COVID-19, MLK Day of Service and Leadership 2021 will take place virtually on Monday, January 18, 2021. For our 25th anniversary, we are offering Virtual Service and Workshop options for you to choose from. Virtual Service and Workshops will be on a variety of topics that will help you better engage your GW, DC, and hometown communities in service. Due to limited availability, registration is open to GW students, faculty, staff, and alumni first. If space permits, community members can participate.


We are honored to have our MLK Day of Service and Leadership included in the Presidential Inaugural Committee's National Day of Service! On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, the Presidential Inaugural Committee will bring together volunteers from across the country in the President-Elect’s vision of empathetic leadership to participate in direct services in local communities most affected by the crises of the pandemic. Let the President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris know that you’re committed to serving your community by volunteering on January 18, 2021!


Unable to join us on MLK Day but still want to support the community? In addition to virtual service and workshops we are proud to host a Winter Care Package Drive for Connected Schools. In 2019, DC Public Schools launched the Connected School Initiative to serve students and families furthest from opportunity. Connected Schools partner with the community to make schools spaces that support not only a student’s academic development, but also a family’s overall wellbeing. Connected Schools provide an integrated approach to academics, health and social services, youth development, and community engagement in order to ensure students thrive in school and in life. Through the MLK Day of Service and Leadership Winter Care Package Drive, the GW community can support families in these school communities by visiting the Winter Care Package Wishlist and donating warm winter clothing and hygiene products. *Note* Please be sure to purchase items directly from the Wish List. We are unable to accept standalone items. Items purchased from the wish list will be sent directly to us.*


Schedule At-A-Glance

  • 1:00pm ET  -1:45pm ET Virtual Opening Program & Keynote Speaker
  • 2:00pm ET - 3:30pm ET Virtual Service Project OR Workshop* (some workshops start at 3pm)
  • Ongoing - Winter Care Package Drive 


To register, please review all virtual service and/or workshop descriptions below and navigate to the registration page in GivePulse. All opportunities have a limit on the number of registrations and may be closed if they have reached capacity. If that happens, please feel free to register for another opportunity.

Please only register for one opportunity to allow more community members to participate in the day.  All events will kick-off on Monday, January 18, 2021 and some may be completed after the 18th.  Please read all details carefully when registering. 





portrait of clint

Clint Smith

Author & Activist

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the poetry collection, Counting Descent, and the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed.


  • Service & Workshop: Hunger Simulation & Letter Writing with Capital Area Foodbank, 2pm ESTLearn about the services offered through Capital Area Food Bank, participate in their guided Face Hunger™ workshop, and write letters to pack in food boxes given to families from the Food Bank.


  • Service: Letter Writing with Operation Gratitude (Led by GW Silver Wings), 2pm ESTJoin Silver Wings, a national, coed, professional organization dedicated to creating proactive, knowledgeable, and effective civic leaders through community service and education, in writing letters to first responders and/or military affiliated groups. Affiliated with Arnold Air Society, Air Force ROTC, and the Air Force Association, Silver Wings engages our members with programming centered around serving our communities, developing professional competencies, fostering career development, and supporting lasting friendships. Learn more here.


  • Service: Phone Banking with Girls on the Run-DC, 2pm ESTGirls on the Run-DC inspires girls in 3rd-8th grade to be healthy, joyful, and confident using an experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. Join us in empowering girls across DC and Prince George's Counting, MD by helping us collect stories from the families we serve and our volunteers!  Volunteers for GOTR-DC will make phone calls to previous program participants and volunteers. A confidential number to use can be provided upon request. Learn more about Girls on the Run-DC here


  • Service: Transcribe Historical Documents with Smithsonian Transcription Center, 2pm ESTThe Smithsonian Transcription Center is a freely accessible website that connects volunteers across the world with digitized Smithsonian collections. Users can transcribe, review, or explore historical letters, diaries, scientific specimen sheets, newspapers, and more through Transcription Center projects. Why is this so important? Because transcription allows researchers everywhere to more easily discover, investigate, and share history. Together, we are unlocking the past and bringing it to life. For this year’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the Transcription Center team and staff from the National Museum of African American History and Culture will be joining GW to transcribe and review historical documents from the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. The Freedmen’s Bureau, as it’s more commonly referred, was established by the federal government in 1865 to assist in the political, social, and economic reconstruction of the American south, assisting more than 4 million formerly enslaved African Americans in the transition to citizenship and freedom. Because of the Bureau’s extensive work across the south documenting the experiences of African Americans and southern whites, establishing schools, negotiating new labor contracts, and much more, their historical records represent some of the richest information available on African American history and the history of the 19th century United States. During the transcribe-a-thon event on MLK Day, we’ll learn more about this history and the immense importance of transcribing the Freedmen’s Bureau records.



  • Workshop: Dive-In Directly With Your Community - Direct Service Opportunities with the Nashman Center, 2pm ESTThis workshop will cover some of the ways students can get involved with direct service with the Nashman Center and how directly diving into your community is the first step in having a foundational knowledge and experience to further create social change after the election. Come learn about over 15 direct ways you can serve virtually this Spring and work alongside your DC community. This is a part of the Nashman Center's 'What Now? Post-Election Action' workshop series and is open to all students.


  • Workshop: Education and Equity with GW Jumpstart, 2pm ESTParticipate in a workshop with GW's cohort for Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a national AmeriCorps program that trains and places college students in teams to serve preschools in low-income neighborhoods for an academic year. For MLK Day this year, Jumpstart will host a workshop in alignment with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s values and end with a brief service project to support the Jumpstart at GW program.


  • Workshop: Peace Circle with Little Friends for Peace (LFFP), 2pm ESTJoin LFFP on MLK Day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for a day of education, action, celebration, and peace-building! Little Friends for Peace meets people and communities where they are, empowering them to build cultures of peace. Named for the "little" part we all play in spreading peace, LFFP interrupts the culture of violence, teaching a practice of peace, empathy and nonviolent conflict resolution. We work with families, children, schools, prisoners, those experiencing homelessness, and individuals, because everyone has the chance to “rewire” their brain and heart. Across the DC-MD-VA area, we run Peace Camps, in- school and after-school peace education programs, Peace Academy training, Peace Circles, and adult enrichment programs. 


  • Workshop: Policy Advocacy as a Pathway to Change, 2pm EST. In 2020, many asked whether the path to change lay in voting and policy or protest. This session will outline a pathway to effective policy advocacy for advancing systemic and institutional change.


  • Workshop: Storytelling about Belief Development with GW Art Therapy, 2pm EST. In his sermon “Loving Your Enemies,” King preached, “we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding…Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill that have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.” A major impediment to actualizing the Beloved Community is an inability to authentically relate to others, particularly those who differ by race, culture, and political perspective. Mediation experts understand the importance of building relationships through listening to and telling one’s personal experience of a social event. In this workshop, participants will create art and write a story to describe a personal experience that defines their social, cultural, or political outlook. Participants will then have a chance to view each other’s art, listen to each other’s stories, and offer arts-based responses. Rather than debate, this workshop is an opportunity to share perspectives, foster empathy, gain understanding, and develop communication skills. Participants will also be encouraged to share their art, story, and experience on social media using the King Week hashtag to extend the workshop to a wider network. No previous art experience is required.


  • Workshop: Impact of Volunteering and an Oveview of A Wider Circle, 2pm EST. Join A Wider Circle for a presentation about the impact of volunteering and to learn more about their organizational mission. "The mission of A Wider Circle is to end poverty. Our holistic approach integrates on-the-ground services for the creation of stable homes, workforce development, and neighborhood revitalization. We also seek to develop large-scale solutions that incorporate greater awareness and engagement by the community." Find out more about their initiatives here.


  • Workshop: Navigating Dialogues, 3pm EST. This workshop will explore the importance and necessity of navigating conversations with peers that promote effective and productive dialogue. Note: Start time is later than other projects and will begin at 3pm EST.


Contact us at [email protected].


MLK Day of Service and Leadership is sponsored by the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement & Public Service, with support from the Multicultural Services Center and the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement.