A Better, Bolder Peace Corps

Given that there are roughly half the number of Peace Corps volunteers serving our nation compared to the more than 15,000 who served in 1966, and given that many countries continue to request more volunteers or new Peace Corps programs, the National Peace Corps Association continues to strongly support initiatives to grow and expand the Peace Corps.

At the same time, the Peace Corps community realizes and promotes ideas and policies that will make the Peace Corps not only bigger, but also better and bolder.

On a variety of fronts, there is activity to advance a better and bolder Peace Corps.  The following outline provides an overview on some of the key developments that have been the focus of the Peace Corps and Peace Corps community.  If you want to share your comments, you can contact us at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org.  You can also offer comments/suggestions directly with the Peace Corps by following this link.

The Latest:

  • Non-Competitive Eligibility: Included in the Senate Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014 is the call for a report from the Peace Corps on the possibility of extending the length of non-competitive eligibility for federal employment for Peace Corps Volunteers.  This language would need to be incorporated into a final bill.  Contact advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org for more details and to find out how you can assist.
  • Peace Corps Agreement with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA): Read about this Memorandum of Understanding to expand collaboration and sharing between Peace Corps and South Korea’s volunteer sending organization.
  • Peace Corps Collaboration with Johns Hopkins University:  Read about this August, 2013 Memorandum of Understanding through which Peace Corps Volunteers collaborate on global health issues.

Peace Corps’ Comprehensive Assessment and Strategic Plan

The Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations language included a provision to conduct a Comprehensive Assessment to identify strategies and recommendations for improving Peace Corps’ operations and a plan to implement reform, including:

  1. Improving the recruitment and selection process to attract a wide diversity of highly and appropriately skilled Volunteers;
  2. Training and medical care for Volunteers and staff;
  3. Adjusting Volunteer placement to reflect priority United States interests, country needs and commitment to shared goals, and Volunteer skills;
  4. Coordinating with international and host country development assistance organizations;
  5. Lowering early termination rates;
  6. Strengthening management and independent evaluation and oversight; and,
  7. Any other steps needed to ensure the effective use of resources and Volunteers, and to prepare for and implement an appropriate expansion of the Peace Corps.

Director Aaron Williams requested the assessment also address how the Peace Corps can best strengthen activities to bring the world back home (third goal activities) and agency reporting mechanisms.

On June 14, 2010, the Peace Corps released its report.  The 200 page document includes six strategies and 63 recommendations.  The six strategies are:

  1. Target the Peace Corps’ resources and country presence across countries according to specific country selection criteria to maximize grassroots development impact and strengthen relationships with the developing world.
  2. Focus on a more limited number of highly effective technical interventions that will enable the Peace Corps to demonstrate impact and achieve global excellence.
  3. Embrace generalist Volunteers, recruit them recognizing the competition for their services, and provide them with training and comprehensive support for success in their project areas and community outreach activities.
  4. Make Peace Corps Response an engine of innovation by piloting new programs to expand the Peace Corps’ presence and technical depth and increase overseas service opportunities for talented Americans.
  5. Actively engage Volunteers, returned Volunteers and the American public through strong partnerships with private sector companies, schools, civil society, returned Peace Corps Volunteer groups and government agencies to increase understanding of other cultures and generate commitment to volunteerism and community service as a way to “continue service.”
  6. Strengthen the Peace Corps’ management and operations by using modern technology, innovative approaches and improved business processes that will enable the agency to effectively carry out this new strategic vision.

Follow this link to review the full Peace Corps assessment.

Read this update from 2011 in which the Peace Corps outlines progress to date in implementing the Comprehensive Assessment.

Peace Corps Volunteer Benefits

For some individuals who serve as Volunteers or are considering service in the Peace Corps, the benefits offered by Peace Corps can impact the post-Peace Corps experience and/or the diversity of the pool of Peace Corps applicants.

A December, 2009 National Peace Corps Association survey on a better, bolder Peace Corps included a section on volunteer benefits.  Among those most impacted (including Peace Corps applicants, current volunteers and recent RPCVs), three benefit items ranked high in terms of improvement.  They are expanding and improving health insurance immediately following Peace Corps, expand student loan forgiveness for Peace Corps service and increase the volunteer readjustment allowance.

Other recommendations included in the survey related to volunteer benefits included expanding non-competitive eligibility status for RPCVs, expanding opportunities through the Master’s International Program, increased opportunities and incentives for volunteers who extend for a third year, and expanding career counseling workshops and job fairs in regions outside of Washington.

Peace Corps Action
  • In March, 2010 Peace Corps announced a $50/month increase in the Volunteer Readjustment Allowance
  • In December, 2010 Peace Corps announced the expansion of its Master’s International Program with 26 universities, expanding opportunities for Volunteers to receive graduate school credit for their service abroad. The expansion includes four Historically Black Colleges and Universities and four Hispanic-serving institutions, and increased the number of participating schools to more than 85.

NPCA Documents and Resources

(page updated 10/17/13)

Oklahoma State University Masters of International Agriculture
Think MSIH. Clinical rotations at CUMC
USC Marshall School of business
Drexel University: the theory behind the practice.
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