A Day (or a Year, or a Career) of Service

A Day (or a Year, or a Career) of Service was originally published on Idealist Careers.

A black and white photo of Martin Luther King Jr. attached to yellow notebook paper with tape, surrounded by an illustration of a growing tree sprouting from the ground.

Illustration by Marian Blair

Since 1986, the third Monday of the year has been the day on which we commemorate and honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. And in 1994, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was officially recognized as a national day of service.

In his 1957 Birth of A New Nation speech, Dr. King said, “The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation. The aftermath of violence is emptiness and bitterness.” It is the dream of this “beloved community” that inspires idealists to commit a day (a week, an hour, or even an entire career) to the pursuit of a world absent of poverty, hunger, and hatred, and in which everyone is cared for.

On this day of service, we’ve gathered some of our best resources to meet you wherever you are on your social-impact journey. Here are some ideas for how to advance your own pursuit of a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.

For a day

If you’re looking for shorter-term volunteer opportunities, look no further than our Volunteer+ listings. As of January 12, 2022, Idealist had over 500 volunteer opportunities related to the commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our listings truly run the gamut and include everything from online conversation and community-building gatherings and cooking for a cause to neighborhood clean-ups and housewarming basket collection for individuals experiencing homelessness.

For a year (or two)

Often funded by foundations or private donors, fellowships are designed to provide incentives and support to the next generation of nonprofit and social-justice leaders.

Fellowships are usually formal programs lasting anywhere from three months to two years, and often include:

  • A stipend
  • Challenging work experience
  • Well-structured plans for training and professional development
  • Access to seasoned professionals as mentors

In addition to well-established programs, universities and privately-funded nonprofits like Greenpeace are now setting up fellowships to attract emerging leaders, so opportunities are expanding.

Explore whether a public service fellowship may be right for you, and if you’ve already answered that question with a resounding “yes!” start searching fellowships on Idealist today. To get you started, here are a few current opportunities that land squarely in the social-justice space:

For a career

We may be idealists, but we also understand that huge systemic change that honors Dr. King’s legacy won’t happen overnight. Many people around the country—and around the globe—dedicate their professional careers to building a better world. If that’s where you find yourself, welcome! We need you.

If you’re in the nascent stages of the big switch to the social-impact sector, here are a few resources to help you along the way:

By Alexis Perrotta - Idealist Careers
Idealist Careers
Idealist Careers | Helping you land, love, and grow in your social-impact career. And visit Idealist.org explore thousands of great jobs and social-impact organizations near you.