TSU leads national service project that continues legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using funding it was awarded to help facilitate a national service initiative involving 10 other higher education institutions in the southeast region.

Following a competitive grant process, TSU received $447,000 in June from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the agency that leads the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in service, and this initiative falls in line with not just his belief, but TSU’s motto – Think. Work. Serve,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We’re proud that TSU was selected as one of six institutions to help lead this national service project.”

TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement was one of six organizations to receive federal and matching funds from CNCS to mobilize volunteers to honor King’s memory through service projects. TSU then provided the 10 regional HBCUs with mini-grants up to $4,400.

Dazzjah Jones
TSU student Dazzjah Jones helps with beautification project at a local day care center. (By John Cross, TSU Media Service)

Some of the institutions used the grants for activities in January, while others are doing theirs through August. The activities include community beautification, disaster relief initiatives, and financial literacy and on-site education events.

Specifically at TSU, which performed its activities the first weekend in April, students and community volunteers packed disaster relief boxes, helped workers at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, and partnered with the Nashville Area American Red Cross to help install smoke detectors in homes.

Carrie Grishaber was one of several workers with the American Red Cross who were with students when they visited homes to promote fire safety.

“This benefits the community because we get the students really involved in the neighborhoods,”Grishaber said. “People get to see the Red Cross and college students together, making a positive difference.”

TSU student Tyler Lewis was one of the more than 400 individuals who signed up to participate in TSU’s MLK Day of Service. She was in one of the groups that visited homes near the college to teach people how to be prepared for home fires and to install smoke alarms where needed.

“I know this will help the community,” said Lewis, an 18-year-old psychology major. “Lives are lost every year due to not knowing, or not understanding, ways to protect yourself when it comes to fire.”

At Second Harvest Food Bank, volunteer services manager Stacie Denton said she’s grateful for TSU’s volunteer service.

“Volunteers are critical to our day-to-day operations and provide invaluable support in the fight against hunger in Middle Tennessee,” Denton said.

TSU junior Christina Young said the activities give her and other students a chance “to give back.”

“I think it’s very important to give back and be aware of other surroundings,” said the 21-year-old Young, who is majoring in mass communications. “This makes you not just think about yourself, but think about others.”

Established in 1993, CNCS engages more than five million Americans in service through different programs each year. The funding is intended to get more Americans to observe the MLK federal holiday as a day of service in communities, and encourage them to make a long-term commitment to community service.

“We want people to realize that Dr. King’s holiday is not just a day off,” said Shirley Nix-Davis, director of a youth empowerment program at TSU and one of the MLK Day of Service project directors. “But it’s an opportunity to serve, and continue serving throughout the year.”

The colleges and universities that received mini-grants from TSU are Albany State University, American Baptist College, Benedict College, Clinton College, Dillard University, Huston-Tillotson University, Jackson State University, Morehouse College, Southern University and A&M College, and Talladega College.