The initiative, which will begin on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, is a call to "all Americans to make an ongoing commitment to serve their communities and their country," according to a release.
"At this moment of great purpose and great promise, President-elect Obama is calling on all Americans to make an ongoing commitment to serve their communities and their country," said Powell, an honorary co-chair of the inauguration. "We're not just asking the American people for one day of service. We are asking you to make an ongoing commitment of your time - an hour, a weekend, whatever you can spare. Because that's how we're going to rebuild this country and meet our great challenges – together."
To kick off the initiative on the 19th, Mr. Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and their families will participate in community service projects in the D.C. area.
"I think it will capture the imagination of the American people," Powell said at a press conference announcing the initiative, as the Associated Press reports. "My experience is, in time of need, the American people recognize that they have to do more than they would have otherwise."
At the press conference, Powell was asked about working in the Obama administration. He said he had not been approached and would not be interested if he were.
"I'm not looking for a job," said Powell. "I'm very happy in private life, thank you very much."