UChicago expands annual MLK Day of Service to weeklong event

From Jan. 17-23, virtual service projects will connect students with neighboring communities

After nearly a year of heightened community need in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges, the University of Chicago will expand its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service into a full week of virtual service projects and events starting on Jan. 17. 

The Week of Service—presented by UChicago’s University Community Service Center (UCSC) within the Office of Civic Engagement in partnership with UChicago Laboratory Schools and UChicago Charter School—will give local residents and community-based organizations an opportunity to take part in activities and support efforts ranging from resume review services from the University’s Office of Career Advancement, to yoga and wellness classes facilitated by University students and faculty and staff from more than 13 units across campus.

Members of the University community will have a chance to learn from local residents as well through a conversation series, workshops and other activities. Each day will be themed to highlight principles central to Dr. King’s work and feature local community-based organizations, as well as large-scale volunteer opportunities. Curated enrichment materials will also be promoted throughout the week.

“The pandemic has challenged us to be innovative with the ways we generate authentic community-building across campus and the broader city of Chicago,” said Kafi Moragne-Patterson, director of student civic education and the University Community Service Center. “It’s vital to work with campus and community partners to create a robust set of offerings that emphasizes the talent and skillsets embodied by the UChicago community and the many people in the neighborhoods making up our great city.

“I am proud of our UCSC team, and our many campus and community partners who committed to this creative effort to reach more students and community members than ever before. Ultimately, it is a testament to the work of Dr. King and other activists who suggest that our destinies are intertwined, and made stronger, when we build with those around us.”

Free activities and events for the week of service will include but are not limited to:

  • Resume review sessions for South Side residents with staff in the Office of Career Advancement
  • Tech support sessions for select local nonprofits with students from the University’s Institute of Politics
  • My Very Own Library virtual Read Alouds for children and families
  • Translation services from international UChicago students for select local immigrant-focused nonprofits
  • Conversations between UChicago students and senior citizens who are members of Hyde Park Village recorded and released daily
  • Virtual Letter Writing to Incarcerated People Workshop for students with the Institute of Politics, Bridge Writing Workshop and Pozen Human Rights Lab
  • The launch of an ongoing City Chats series in which members of the University community and neighboring communities are invited to join virtual conversations with notable Chicagoans about their lives, careers and Chicago journeys, starting with Jhmira Alexander of storytelling organization Public Narrative
  • Stress Management and Self-Care for Community Members Workshop with University Wellness 

Additional activities and events are being finalized. To see the most updated list of MLK Week offerings or find out how you can participate, visit mlk.uchicago.edu/page/mlk-jr-virtual-week-service.

The “MLK Celebration: A Network of Mutuality” event is part of a broader campus-wide celebration honoring the life and legacy of King and reflecting on our collective responsibility to work towards a more equitable society. The 31st annual celebration launched on Tuesday, Jan. 12 with a virtual keynote address from Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, and bestselling author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents and The Warmth of Other Suns.

—This story was first published by the Office of Civic Engagement.