Press Release: Largest Ever Survey of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Finds 93% Believe the Peace Corps has Improved Global Perceptions of the U.S.
Washington, DC — September 20th, 2011 — In advance of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps this Thursday, Civic Enterprises and the National Peace Corps Association released today A Call to Peace: Perspectives of Volunteers on the Peace Corps at 50, a new report based on the largest ever independent survey of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).
“This 50th anniversary year provided the ideal occasion to conduct a nationally representative survey assessing the impact of the Volunteer experience,” said Kevin F. F. Quigley, president of the National Peace Corps Association. “This unprecedented survey provides remarkable confirmation that the Peace Corps Volunteer experience does indeed lead to a lifetime of service–service that improves communities both at home and abroad.”
In collaboration with Peter D. Hart Research Associates and America’s Promise Alliance, the survey reached more than 11,000 RPCVs representing the more than 200,000 who have served in 139 countries since the first Volunteers deployed in 1961. Said John Bridgeland, Civic Enterprises CEO and co-author of the report, “This historic survey highlights the enormous role Peace Corps Volunteers have played in shaping our world and making our country more secure through shared service and a common understanding of other cultures.”
Key headlines from A Call to Peace:
- Peace as the Overriding Purpose: The Peace Corps experience had a profound effect on fostering peace and understanding among Americans and people around the globe, with less effect in meeting the need for trained workers in those countries. More than 80 percent said their service was effective in promoting a better understanding of Americans in the communities where they served and an almost equal number said their service helped promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Fifty-nine percent said their service was effective in helping other countries meet their need for trained workers.
- A Transformative Experience: The Peace Corps experience is transformational for volunteers –- an experience they would recommend to their families; often changed the rest of their lives; and made them better citizens back home. Ninety percent of RPCVs rated their Peace Corps experience as excellent or very good and 98 percent would recommend the Peace Corps to their child, grandchild or other close family member.
- Unfinished Business: President Kennedy said that the Peace Corps would be serious when 100,000 Americans served abroad every year yet today there are only 8,600 learning new languages, understanding other cultures and leading to a more informed U.S. foreign policy. To fulfill Kennedy and Shriver’s dream, the ServiceWorld coalition has been formed, with more than 300 colleges, employers, and nonprofits that have rallied around an agenda to send 100,000 Americans abroad annually through three channels: the Peace Corps, which the RPCVs surveyed want to see doubled, Volunteers for Prosperity that currently sends 43,000 highly skilled volunteers each year to work on urgent issues such as HIV/AIDS and malaria in Africa; and new Global Service Fellowships that would tap up to 10,000 Americans for up to one year of service, with Members of Congress nominating outstanding individuals from their districts and states, much like they do for the military academies.
Former Senator Harris Wofford, one of the original architects of the Peace Corps and a co-author of this report, added “This survey adds strong new evidence of the great return on investment Peace Corps Volunteers have given in the last 50 years. On the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the need for such international service is as great as it was half a century ago.”
This report was generously supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Case Foundation, the MCJ Amelior Foundation, AARP, the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
To read the full report, please visit http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org and http://www.civicenterprises.net/. To take action in support of the Peace Corps and the ServiceWorld.org campaign to increase our international service to 100,000 volunteers, go to http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/advocacy/.
About Civic Enterprises
Civic Enterprises is a public policy development firm that works to inform issues of importance to the nation. Created to enlist the private, public and nonprofit sectors to help address our Nation’s toughest problems, Civic Enterprises fashions new initiatives and strategies that achieve measurable results. For information about Civic Enterprises, please visit their website at www.civicenterprises.net.
About the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA)
Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is the nation’s leading 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization connecting and championing Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the Peace Corps community. It provides service and education opportunities that build on the Peace Corps experience, and is also the longest-standing advocate for an independent and robust Peace Corps. To learn more, visit: www.peacecorpsconnect.org
Director of Communications