Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

MLK Day 2015 Food volunteers

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said,

“Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”

Each year, the University of Washington–in partnership with United Way of King County–hosts the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, an event that engages nearly three thousand volunteers in day-long service projects throughout King County. These projects provide vital people-power to organizations that support our county’s most vulnerable populations.

Celebrate the legacy of Dr. King by taking advantage of the national holiday to serve!

This event is part of the United We Serve initiative, which calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our nations most pressing problems.

How can I participate as a volunteer?

Registration for service projects is now open!

There are two ways to volunteer during MLK Day service. You can sign up through the United Way of King County website to be a project leader (then recruit your team!) OR you can sign up as an individual for a public project.

As a project leader you are responsible for choosing a project for your team and claiming all the volunteer slots, recruiting volunteers, and acting as the liaison between the nonprofit partner and volunteer group. Ready to be a project leader? Click here for detailed instructions.

Here’s how to register as a group:

  • Pick a project from the list below, click “View Details,” and then click “respond as a group.” Note that you may volunteer alongside other groups.
  • Create a volunteer profile if you don’t have one, or log in if you do.
  • Enter your group name and click submit.
  • Click “add member” to register yourself and claim the amount of spots you need.

If you are registering as an individual not associated to a group please also make sure you connect with the nonprofit host so you confirm logistics.

How can my organization host volunteers?

Your organization can be part of this event by listing your MLK Day volunteer projects with United Way! Project registration for 2019 is officially closed. . .but if you’re interested in listing a last minute volunteer opportunity, please contact the team at for help listing your opportunity!

A few things you should know about the MLK Day of Service through United Way of King County:

  • Projects typically take place on the Monday MLK Day Holiday and last 3-6 hours.
    • Projects over the weekend prior to MLK day are also welcome!
    • Projects should start no earlier than 9:00 a.m.
  • Projects must take place in King County.
  • To submit a project, you must be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, school, park or community group.
  • Project hosts (that’s you!) must be able to provide all necessary supplies for the project.
  • Indoor and family-friendly projects are strongly encouraged (though all projects are welcome).
  • Projects that include an element of social justice or address racial disparities (for example: projects supporting under served populations or sharing information on your target populations with volunteers and/or ending your project with a reflection) are also encouraged.
  • United Way will be working hard to promote this event, but cannot guarantee that all projects will be selected by a volunteer group. For each project you submit, United Way of King County will then work to engage community resources to fulfill your service opportunity. You will be notified when volunteers join your project.

The deadline to submit projects is usually the 2nd week of November. Late addition projects are accepted, but have a lower chance of being filled by a volunteer group. Contact us at with questions about posting projects!

Check out photos from previous years

MLK Day email footer