NPCA Advocacy Year in Review

2016 was an especially momentous and memorable year for the Peace Corps community's advocacy efforts. With major victories and progress made, arrivals and departures, new initiatives launched and familiar ones improved upon, the Peace Corps community's causes were championed at a whole new level, and none of it would have been possible without you — citizen advocates from across the country and all over the world. You visited with lawmakers from district offices in Fort Worth to Capitol Hill, sent in thousands of messages and phone calls, garnered a record number of Congressional signatories, and went Farr and beyond what was asked of you. Thank you!

As we prepare for a new political environment in 2017, your participation, energy and donations to NPCA's advocacy efforts are needed now more than ever. NPCA can provide you with the necessary resources to advocate, but we'll need you to ensure the future of the Peace Corps!

As we close out the year, we're celebrating those champions and moments from 2016 that helped make the Peace Corps community the best it can be.

  • Mr. Peace Corps Says Goodbye. After decades of service to the Peace Corps community and its causes on Capitol Hill, Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) announced his retirement. Known to his colleagues as "Mr. Peace Corps" for his staunch advocacy of a program he regularly referred to as "the American taxpayer's best bang for its buck," Congressman Farr began his career in public service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia. To honor Congressman Farr, a PCV/RPCV healthcare bill was named...
  • The Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act. H.R. 6037, introduced by Congressmen Farr and Ted Poe (R-TX) in the House in September, aims to improve healthcare for PCVs/RPCVs with service-related conditions. A collaborative effort by Congressmen Farr and Poe, the Peace Corps, NPCA affiliate "Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers," and NPCA, the bill will need the support and action of the Peace Corps community as it is reintroduced in the House along with the introduction of a Senate version in the new Congress. Awareness on Capitol Hill for greater care for what Congressman Poe calls "angels abroad" is in large part thanks to the community's efforts during...
  • Capitol Hill Advocacy Day. Set as the kickoff for Peace Corps Connect 2016 and to coincide with the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Corps Act into law, over 200 advocates from the Peace Corps community met with lawmakers and their staffs to champion our community's causes. Highlights from the day included speeches by Congressmen Mike Honda (D-CA) (RPCV El Salvador) and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) (RPCV the Dominican Republic), retired Lt. Gen. and former Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, and the participation in meetings by several Peace Corps host country embassy representatives. The day was capped in tribute to Congressman Farr, when NPCA renamed its Congressional Leadership Award the...
  • Sam Farr Congressional Leadership Award. Peace Corps champions Congresswomen Kay Granger (R-TX) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) were co-recipients of the inaugural award for their outstanding efforts to secure greater funding for the agency in FY2016—$410 million, an historic high. In their acceptance speeches, both Congresswomen Granger and Lowey spoke of what an honor it was to receive an award in its first year named for such an admirable colleague and friend, and spoke of their appreciation and support for a program they've come to know through conversations not only with Congressman Farr, but from Peace Corps community advocates. NPCA also wanted to recognize the enormous volunteer achievements of its citizen advocates, and awarded Richard MacInyre with the inaugural...
  • Advocate of the Year Award. A longtime Maine Advocacy Coordinator, MacIntyre (RPCV South Korea), represented the best of the community's advocacy efforts. With approximately 40 Advocacy Coordinators around the country, these volunteer leaders are crucial to boosting the community's impact. Whether they're organizing district office meetings with lawmakers in Lincoln, NE, promoting advocacy at affiliate group events in Jacksonville, FL, or organizing congressional letter-writing Happy Hours in Buffalo, NY, they're helping get the community's voice to those who can act on it. As new NPCA Advocacy Coordinators sign up from across the country —  including Seattle, WA, Columbia, MO, and New York City — our efforts will be stronger than ever in 2017, and we'll need them to build on past victories, like the record number of signatories for the...  
  • FY16 Peace Corps Dear Colleague: Authored by bipartisan Peace Corps champions in both chambers of Congress, this year's letter urging greater funding for the Peace Corps garnered a record number of lawmaker's names in the House — 165 — and 30 more in the Senate. The number of signatories has consistently grown, thanks in large part to the community's efforts to make phone calls and send in emails throughout the year, especially during June, when the community sent in over...
  • 10,000 Messages! By providing you with new click-to-send letter writing software, we not only provide an easier way in which to write to your members of Congress, we also are better able to monitor and report on our impact. In May, we issued the challenge:  10,000 messages to Congress supporting increased Peace Corps funding. You delivered and then some, with nearly 12,000 messages to Capitol Hill in less than thirty days. That is a benchmark we want to build upon as we begin 2017.
  • The Walk for Peace: Several hundred RPCVs and Peace Corps supporters marched through Washington, D.C. to Capitol Hill on September 25, 2016 to tell our leaders that the world needs a bigger, better Peace Corps. The walk began at University Yard at George Washington University, traveled down Pennsylvania Ave. past the White House, and ended on Capitol Hill for a speaker series highlighting the impact of Peace Corps. 
  • A Shifting Advocacy Landscape: RPCV Congressman Mike Honda (El Salvador ) lost his re-election bid during the November elections. Coupled with the retirement of Representative Sam Farr (Colombia), Peace Corps representation in Congress will be at its lowest level in nearly 40 years.
  • 2017 Preparations: With a new President-Elect, the beginning of a new Congress, and the election of more than 50 newcomers to the U.S. Senate and House, we are already preparing for 2017. The year ahead will involve introducing the Peace Corps community to the Trump administration and many freshman lawmakers, making a strong case for increased Peace Corps funding in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, re-introducing and advancing Peace Corps health legislation, monitoring and providing input on the nomination of a new Peace Corps Director, and much, much more. It all begins with our National Days of Action in early March, where we will call upon everyone in the Peace Corps community to reach out to policymakers to express support for the Peace Corps. This year's initiative includes a goal of 100 activities around the country during the first half of March. 

Make it an even better New Year by becoming involved.

Reach out to your regional and/or state NPCA Advocacy Coordinators and let them know you're interested in attending district meetings. Does your region or state need an Advocacy Coordinator? We can help you become one or enlist others. Email us at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org.

Donate to the advocacy program. To ensure the future of the Peace Corps, we'll need scale up our efforts on Capitol Hill while also continuing to help you advocate from afar and in your districts. Every gift counts!

Become an NPCA Mission Partner. Make a further commitment to the Peace Corps community by joining the thousands of RPCVs and others who share our goals of a bigger, better Peace Corps.

Thank you for all you do and happy New Year!