RPCV Feedback Wanted on Peace Corps’ New Strategic Plan

By Erica Burman on Friday, November 8th, 2013

A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer stops by the Peace Corps' table at Peace Corps Connect - Boston.

A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer stops by the Peace Corps’ table at Peace Corps Connect – Boston.

Over the past several months, the Peace Corps has been engaged in a comprehensive and highly inclusive process to develop a new strategic plan to guide the agency’s work over the next five years (fiscal years 2014-2018). The new plan (still in draft) “…strengthens far-reaching reforms introduced in recent years, addresses decades-old challenges, and leverages promising opportunities to increase the impact of Volunteers and improve operations.” In additional to the Peace Corps mission and three goals, the draft strategic plan includes 11 strategic objectives that form the priorities and focus areas for the agency over the next five years.

According to Peace Corps staff,

“We are now at the point where we can begin consulting with the public on the draft strategic plan, and our first step is to reach out to the RPCV community. Every day, RPCVs advance the Peace Corps mission and are key stakeholders in the future of the agency. We welcome comments from RPCVs on the draft strategic plan — the Peace Corps’ blueprint for the future.”

The Peace Corps has asked the National Peace Corps Association to help solicit RPCV input on the draft strategic plan. The draft strategic plan can be found at www.peacecorps.gov/strategicplan. The Peace Corps will accept comments on the draft strategic plan until December 2nd, 2013. Please send your comments to strategicplan@peacecorps.gov.

Update – Message from the Acting Director to Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff worldwide:

We have been engaged in a comprehensive and collaborative process to develop Peace Corps’ new strategic plan for the next five years (fiscal years 2014-2018).  Throughout the past year, staff and Volunteers from across the world have participated in the development of the new strategic plan through working groups, interviews, and focus groups.  In addition, two questions specific to the development of the new Strategic Plan were added to the 2013 Annual Volunteer Survey (AVS) to help identify Volunteer priorities for agency improvement.  Based upon these contributions from across the agency, we have developed a draft strategic plan that sets an ambitious vision for our agency.

Through this plan, we envision a Peace Corps where:

  • Every Volunteer has a safe, healthy, and productive service;
  • Volunteers contribute to demonstrable gains in human development and mutual understanding in the countries where Peace Corps serves; and,
  • More Americans than ever before are inspired to commit themselves to national service for the cause of peace.

The draft strategic plan builds upon and further strengthens a period of far-reaching reform in the agency, focuses on addressing decades-old challenges, and leverages promising opportunities to increase the impact of our Volunteers and improve our operations.

I am extremely pleased with the progress we have made in developing the agency’s next strategic plan.  However, success in improving our performance and advancing our agency’s goals will depend upon the active engagement of all staff and Volunteers in both the development and the implementation of the goals, objectives, and strategies outlined in the plan.

The fiscal year 2014-2018 Strategic Plan is Peace Corps’ blueprint for the future.  This is your opportunity to contribute to the discussion about the direction of the Peace Corps over the next five years.

Please visit our strategic plan website (www.peacecorps.gov/strategicplan) to read the draft strategic plan and let us know what you think.  The site will remain open until December 2 to receive your feedback.  Please send any comments to strategicplan@peacecorps.gov.

We will review comments from staff, RPCVs, the general public, and other groups throughout December as we develop a more detailed version of the strategic plan with measurable, time-bound performance goals and strategies and activities to meet those goals.  The final strategic plan will be published with the Congressional Budget Justification (CBJ) in February.

Thank you for all that you do every day to advance the Peace Corps’ mission and for taking the time to provide thoughtful comments on how to move the agency forward over the next five years through the new strategic plan.


Comments (9)

  1. Dan Strickland said 2 years ago

    I’m amused by the urge to measure everything within a set time-frame. I’m an old Korea vol, group 18, and a retired med school prof, epidemiologist. Korea PCVs during the late 60s helped the Korean effort to stop the cholera pandemic from advancing in Korea. They joined a line of Koreans, health workers, student nurses, and even teachers across the southern tip of Korea, vaccinated everybody in sight, got hot and dusty, and never really knew whether that effort worked. I learned that it had indeed been effective in my first year of epidemiology school, but most of my fellow vols had no idea until I shared this map http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~jburkardt/latex/clustering_voronoi/cholera_spread.png with them a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes it takes decades before you realize you had an effect, sometimes you never find out. How would you measure Korea? By the fact that they now have the second-biggest Peace Corps in the world? By the number of high government officials who studied English with PCVs? By having recently had the only US ambassador who was also a PCV serving in Korea? The Peace Corps and Korea have a tremendous shared legacy, with so much to be proud of. I hope someone there is aware of it, even though it most likely won’t be ‘measured’.

  2. Joanne Roll said 2 years ago

    I cannot find the plan. There is just a summary of goals and missions and values; no details. Comments are only open until December 2nd. How can anyone comment without reading the actual plan?

    Am I missing a link?

    Thank you.

  3. Erica Burman said 2 years ago

    Hi Joanne, if you go to the Peace Corps’ page and then click on each of the orange colored subject headers, they expand — and then you can see additional details there.

  4. Joanne Roll said 2 years ago

    Thank you very much. I just received the same information from Peace Corps. Is it just me or is it not clear on the website that clicking on the orange headings will give more information? Probably me! Thank you, again.

  5. Tondalaya Gillespie said 2 years ago

    What is most frustrating regarding PC these days is how irrelevant we have become in the minds of the general public…we are barely a blip on the horizon; most, when I mention Peace Corps are truly surprised it still exists and this from some former Volunteers!

    I often think one of the many reasons PC so galvanized the public was that we were visible. We trained at universities, colleges, organizations, corporations and were exposed to some of the most brilliant minds around. It was considered quite an honor to garner a training program and those great minds thought it very prestigious to participate in our training. The public saw us up close, we were interviewed by local newspapers, invited to speak to clubs, civic groups, schools, churches, etc. We drank at the local watering holes, made friends with the communities, participated in various community activities, attended the local churches, in short we were part of the fabric of America. That really is much gone now, along with having access to some of the best minds around, which really challenged us to question who we were and what we thought we could accomplish. In my own case, we had a brilliant training program, almost like a semester of graduate school. I wonder if PC/W thinks of those early days of training, how it made a broader impact on an America we are too far removed. Just a thought.

  6. Joanne Roll said 2 years ago


    I trained at the University of New Mexico in summer of 1963 and I do remember those early days. as you described. Peace Corps was part of the romance of the glory days of the Kennedy era. But, much has changed.

    Peace Corps does not train in the United States anymore. Instead, it trains in host countries. It may well be that Peace Corps is better known in those countries because of this. Another reason for the change was on college campuses, as the Vietnam War intensified and the anti-draft/war protests grew, Peace Corps trainees became a target for anti-government rage.

    Plus, it was very difficult, I think, to live up to the very early hype. Right now, the current PC/W has a recruiting campaign that emphasizes the “new”
    Peace Corps, whatever that is. It is supposedly designed to appeal to the
    millennium kids. I don’t know if it is working. I do know that Peace Corps history is being rewritten because there is no library nor librarian at the agency and no one can confirm what Peace Corps Volunteers actually did.

    If a US Citizen wants to know what the Peace Corps did, there is literally no place to go to get that information. The records, both public and private,
    are scattered all over and are fragmented and incomplete. Instead of a memorial on the Mall, I think it would be great to have a public Peace Corps Museum/Library someplace easily accessible in Washington DC. A librarian
    would be able to answer historic questions and also refer people to all the different resources that do exist. For example, wouldn’t it be great to have an archive that publicly document fifty years of Peace Corps Volunteers teaching in all the countries of Africa?

  7. Tondalaya Gillespie said 2 years ago

    I certainly agree on anything which would make the Peace Corps more visible to America at large. I know that in-country training began in the 70s, good for language training to be sure. But with that move we also became “lost”, we don’t have much of an advocate in the public domain. I think trainess would benefit from being exposed to some of the great minds,who during our time lent so much to the Peace Corps experience.

    Tondalaya Gillespie/India XVl

  8. Joanne Roll said 2 years ago


    I would hope that a Peace Corps Library/Archive would provide opportunities for conferences and discussions. But, I think the most important exchanges would come from host country nationals…either in person or in video or in some other kind of media. The “great minds” were certainly inspiring, but so many were “culturally bound” and interested in abstract concepts and not the actual implementation of idealistic efforts. When Peace Corps did not immediately reinforce their ideas, they lost interest.

    I truly believe that what Volunteers did and learned is so compelling, that the general public would be fascinated; if only they had the opportunity to know about it.

  9. Gary Robinson said 2 years ago

    Actually, my group. Colombia II, in April-May 1962. had three weeks in-country training at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota. This was after eight weeks at ASU and the 28 day Outward Bound Cycle in Puerto Rico.

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