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Making a Difference: Clifton M. Jones Student Leadership Conference and MLK Jr. Day of Service

The Mission

This annual event engages roughly 500 UT students in a day of leadership development and service learning and is open to all students interested in serving the community while enhancing their personal leadership skills. The event has been held each spring since 2001 with goals of bringing together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaking down barriers that have divided individuals in the past, providing leadership development opportunities, and connecting volunteers to the local community. The morning portion of the event encompasses the leadership conference and includes a keynote speaker and presentation sessions focused on developing a leadership brand, leading in a diverse world, servant leadership, and social justice. The conference is followed by a half day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Knoxville, where students experience first-hand some of the topics and issues discussed earlier in the day.

Clifton M. Jones Conference

The Partners

The Clifton M. Jones Student Leadership Conference and MLK Jr. Day of Service is hosted by the Center for Leadership and Service in the Division of Student Life. Each year, the office partners with different community agencies based on agency-need to provide intentional service-learning opportunities for participants and the local community. In past years, the Center for Leadership & Service has partnered with the following agencies for the conference and day of service: Haven House, CAC AmeriCorps Water Quality Team, Sherrill Hills Retirement Community, Volunteer Fire Department of Seymour, IJAMS Nature Center, SEEED, Sequoyah Hills Association, The Salvation Army, Kindred Health & Rehabilitation Center, Water Angels, The Love Kitchen, The Knoxville Botanical Gardens, Manor House Assisted Living, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Random Acts of Flowers, Knoxville Zoo, and Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

Impact on UT

As a result of participation in the Clifton M. Jones Student Leadership Conference and MLK Jr. Day of Service, students are able to:

  • Identify areas of community needs and means in which to serve it
  • Articulate a heightened sense of civility, justice, and respect for those around them
  • Identify core values and commit to act on them
  • Describe and employ their personal leadership style and potential
  • Identify and utilize campus resources that are available to promote engagement in community service within the University of Tennessee

Impact on Community

The event provides local community agencies with volunteers that assist in a variety of different capacities from deep cleaning, to project completion and other various tasks that may not be feasible on a daily basis at their organization. Hundreds of Knoxville community members are impacted by the work UT students accomplish, including schools, local gardens and parks, hospice facilities, and more. The total volunteer hours served each year during this event is roughly 1,500. In the community service world, service hours have a calculable dollar value which translates to an economic value  that volunteers give back to the community. For 2014’s event, the dollar value of student work contributed to the Knoxville community totaled $30,195.00.

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Center for Leadership and Service Homepage
University Center Room 305
Alicia Price,

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