Governor convenes day of service and youth leadership on January 14

BOSTON - Eighth graders from across Massachusetts will unite for Project 351 on January 14, 2012 for an ambitious day of service honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.  The youth ambassadors, representing the Commonwealth's 351 cities and towns, are chosen based on their exemplary service ethic and spirit of generosity and were nominated by education leaders in their home town.

Project 351 was launched during Governor Deval Patrick’s 2011 inaugural when more than 400 youth ambassadors united to serve, develop leadership skills and discuss issues critical to young people and their communities.  Last year’s day of service impacted over 10,000 children facing economic challenges in the areas of nutrition, early childhood health and development and education. That success compelled the youth ambassadors to continue to seek the training, tools and support of the new network of service-minded youth. Governor Patrick will again convene this year's day of service and lead the day's events.
“Project 351 is designed to inspire, challenge and motivate our next generation of leaders to give back and make a significant impact in the community,” said Governor Patrick. “I am proud that the enormous success of last year’s day of service has opened up so many new opportunities for youth across the Commonwealth to serve, and I look forward to joining this year’s youth ambassadors on January 14 to give back and honor the legacy of Dr. King.”

The 2012 day of service will begin with a Youth Town Meeting led by Governor Patrick at the State House. In the afternoon, the young people  will fan out to service sites across Boston including, Cradles to Crayons, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club and the Dr. Martin Luther King,  Jr. Towers. The day will conclude at the State House with a reflection and service celebration. Project 351 is expected to impact the lives of thousands of individuals.  A list of the youth selected to participate will be available in the coming weeks.

“Project 351 will support and create opportunities for the eighth grade ambassadors’ continued service, while providing tools, enrichment and connection to a community of their peers,” said Carolyn Casey, executive director of Project 351. “Together, our ambassadors,  and those they engage in service will help strengthen our communities and Commonwealth."

The day of service is staffed by volunteers and made possible by a strong partnership with the City of Boston and the leadership of the Project 351 Service Coalition including City Year, Citizen Schools, Boston Cares and Cradles to Crayons.  January 14th will also serve as the launch of Project 351, a new, independent non-profit dedicated to celebrating youth leadership, inspiring the ethic of service, and uniting the Commonwealth through an annual class of youth ambassadors. Governor Patrick will serve as Project 351's honorary chair.

"Project 351 allows Middle School kids to truly get the credit they deserve by allowing them to have a ‘voice’ and by giving them the capacity to change our world,” said Carol Keenan, principal at the Salemwood Middle School in Malden. “The purpose of Project 351 exemplifies our school motto, ‘Perseverance = Never Giving Up!’”

--Project 351 media release