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United Way Hosts Thousands of Volunteers and Pitch Competition Kickoff for Twelfth Annual MLK Day of Service

Irene Godínez
Office: (919) 463-5013 | Cell: (919) 627-7511


United Way Hosts Thousands of Volunteers and Pitch Competition Kickoff for Twelfth Annual MLK Day of Service

2,000 volunteers mobilized at over twenty events across four counties. MLK Day of Service culminates with the kick-off of Idea Generation Next: College Edition, investing in underrepresented social innovators.

MORRISVILLE (January 16, 2017)—For the twelfth year in a row, United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) made a holiday named after its namesake a day ON, as they hosted the Triangle-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service today.  Not only did volunteers have a chance to participate in traditional volunteer projects such as creating soup mixes and assisting in children’s literacy programs, but volunteers also participated in mentoring and coaching roles in the Idea Generation Next: College Edition (IGN-CE) pitch competition, where current and recent college students have a chance to win funding for their innovative solutions to local social challenges, such as childhood hunger.  An estimated 2,300 volunteers supported 25 community service events in Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties.

“MLK Day of Service is an opportunity to be intentional about our role in making our community better,” remarked Natasha Wayne, Director of Community Engagement at United Way of the Greater Triangle. “This year there were many ways to make an impact in our community; everything from wrapping diapers that’ll go to families in need, to coaching college students on how to pitch and refine their solutions to social issues.”

Our MLK Day of Service partners this year included: Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Principal, Rotary, North Carolina Central University, St. Mary’s School, Durham Technical Community College, Duke University, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Johnston County, and the Family Success Alliance.  The Triangle MLK Committee joined us in partnership for our Idea Generation Next: College Edition pitch competition.

Highlights include our continued partnership with North Carolina Central University, the site of the largest gathering of volunteers, with approximately 800 participants, who created soup mixes and pantry items, made warm blankets, packaged diapers, and made encouragement cards for young readers and their families in the Triangle. The MLK Day of Service at NCCU was dedicated to Chancellor Dr. Debra Saunders-White.

Other highlights include the partnership with Duke University, The RTP Rotary Club and 14 other Rotary Clubs in the area, and Durham Technical Community College. Volunteers at this site packed over 100,000 meals to be distributed to families in our area through the Interfaith Food Shuttle.

In Johnston and Orange counties, United Way hosted free Community Reads events to cultivate a passion for reading in young children.  Families were invited to bring their children aged infant to nine from 9:00 am to noon to participate in group readings and skill enhancing activities.

Finally, at the Idea Generation Next: College Edition, twenty-two college students and recent graduates pitched their solutions to addressing social issues facing our communities for a chance at winning funding from a prize pool of $30,000. United Way, in partnership with Duke Energy will present the “People’s Choice Award” of $250 to one of the ideas presented today. The final pitch day, where the grand prize will be awarded, will be on February 24th. IGN-CE is one of the ways that United Way is investing in creating a pipeline of innovators with special emphasis on women and people of color, groups that are currently underrepresented in the entrepreneurial sector.

“This year our focus for MLK Day of Service is working more thoughtfully on creating the ‘Beloved Community’ that Dr. King spoke of often,” said Mack Koonce, CEO & President of United Way of the Greater Triangle. “We are living through some tough times, and challenges for under-resourced families are compounded. This is why we wanted to bookend our MLK Day of Service by making a significant investment in innovative solutions, brought to us by young social entrepreneurs in our Triangle community through IGN-CE.”

Impact Totals:

  • 22 Ideas pitched to solve community challenges
  • 120 Students receive new books and tutoring
  • 870 Blankets created
  • 2,300 Volunteers across 4 counties
  • 2,500 Literacy toolkits packaged
  • 100,000 Diapers packaged
  • 147,800 Meal kits packaged



About United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT)

United Way is committed to supporting immediate basic needs and working toward long-term, sustainable solutions to some of the area’s most pressing issues in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A new focus on low income families and children uses a collaborative approach to dramatically change the course of their futures. UWGT actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement. 

Learn more about UWGT’s work at or volunteer opportunities at

2400 Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 150 | Morrisville, North Carolina 27560 | 919.460.8687