Ana Victoria Cruz posted an articleWelcome a number of new Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to the NPCA team see more
Meet the newest members of our team.
By Glenn Blumhorst
Photo of schoolgirl in Panamá by Eli Wittum
Next week we mark two days that resonate deeply with the Peace Corps community. On Monday, September 21, we celebrate the International Day of Peace. And on Tuesday, September 22, we commemorate the 59th anniversary of the passage and signing of the Peace Corps Act — the legislation that created the Peace Corps. One of its advocates in the House of Representatives was Illinois Republican Marguerite S. Church, who valued the aspiration to nurture “human dignity and confidence” around the world.
But that world has changed. And here on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the agency, we have both the opportunity and responsibility to help reimagine and reshape the Peace Corps — and our community — to be better and stronger. So I’m delighted to welcome a number of new Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to the NPCA team to help do that work — from consultant and Council on Foreign Relations Member Jalina Porter to full-time team member Marieme Foote, who was evacuated from Benin in March and is taking on responsibilities supporting advocacy and outreach. We’ve also brought on board database expert Robertino Bogart and consultant Kim Dixon to work with part-time team members Caitlin Nemeth and Molly O’Brien as they spearhead efforts to connect, inform, and engage community members.
And we have three more opportunities to join our team: We’re looking for a Director of Development, Finance and Administration Associate, and Associate Editor, Global Stories. Together we can foster a diverse, vibrant, and united Peace Corps community that has the energy and commitment to tackle the big challenges in front of us.
Jalina Porter | Strategy Consultant
Jalina Porter will be contributing to several key areas of our work, including partnerships; advocacy; strategic communications; and our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. She has been an active collaborator with NPCA advocacy programs for many years, and she introduced Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick at our July 18 Peace Corps Connect to the Future ideas summit.
A term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Jalina is a strategic communications advisor who specializes in Congress, peace and security, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Throughout her career, she has advised and trained over 3,000 public and foreign policy professionals, veterans, artists, athletes, politicians, and leading corporate executives. She served in Peace Corps Cambodia 2009–11 and later served on the board of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. as development director. She was named a 2018 top 35 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leader by New America and a 2019 Foreign Policy Influencer by the Women’s Foreign Policy Group. She is also a member of the inaugural cohort of the NPCA 40 Under 40 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. She is a proud graduate of Howard University, where she received her bachelor’s degree, and Georgetown University, where she earned her master’s. A former professional dancer, Jalina is passionate about the arts, living with intention, and unique storytelling through movement and writing.
Marieme Foote | Advocacy and Administrative Associate / Outreach Specialist
Marieme Foote served as a Volunteer in Benin from September 2018 until the global evacuation in March 2020. While serving as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Agent, she worked alongside men and women’s groups to address issues concerning food security and agriculture. After returning to the U.S., she became involved in advocacy work for evacuated Volunteers and worked with Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS) to gather data and create a report to advocate for better support for evacuated Volunteers. She holds a B.A. in political science with a minor in environmental studies from Ithaca College. She identifies as a Senegalese-American, so she has spent time both in the U.S and Senegal, where a part of her family resides. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and knitting.
Robertino Bogart | Database Management Specialist
As a Volunteer in Ghana 2017–19, Robertino taught the computer class at a junior high school and worked on a number of health, education, and agriculture projects with students and community members. He co-led a team of PCVs, software developers, and farmers that won the 2018 Peace Corps Cashew Hackathon. They created the prototype for a data collection tool that collects data about cashew harvests and provides reliable and accurate pricing and sales data for farmers and cashew buyers. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Robertino worked as a database developer with the SQL programming language. He is adding python programming language to his repertoire to manage data and create visualizations. He holds a B.A. in mathematics from George Mason University and enjoys swimming and cooking.
Kim Dixon | Team Leader, Peace Corps Community Connect
Kim joins NPCA as a part-time consultant after many years of sales, marketing and management consulting with IBM. On the technical sales side she focused on organizational change management when implementing Internet solutions; she later founded a consulting firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her true calling appeared when she went to Georgia as a Peace Corps Volunteer 2014–16 and worked with internally displaced persons. When her service concluded, she returned to the States, but her heart remained in Georgia. In 2017 she returned for another 18 months. Among other diversions and hobbies, Kim has danced with the Raleigh Little German Band throughout the East Coast, Germany, Austria, and Belgium.
Caitlin Nemeth | Outreach Specialist, part time
Caitlin Nemeth is a Coverdell fellow at the University of Colorado-Denver and expects to complete her Master of Public Administration degree in 2021. She served as a Volunteer in The Gambia 2017–19. She has a B.A. in public health policy and English from the College of William and Mary. While studying at W&M, Caitlin worked for the university’s Phonathon, building rapport with alumni and other associates of the College, and raising money for scholarship funds, diversity & inclusivity initiatives, and academic departments. As a shelter advocate at Avalon, A Center for Women and Children located in Williamsburg, she began to build necessary interpersonal skills while deepening her understanding of the complexities of nonprofit public health programs. Her time at the shelter encouraged her to combine her dream of joining the Peace Corps with her career ambition of implementing positive public health change. In Caitlin’s spare time, she enjoys sailing and paddle boarding on the Chesapeake Bay, baking delicious cookies and cakes, and reading speculative fiction novels.
Molly O’Brien | Outreach Specialist, part time
Molly O’Brien comes to NPCA after completing her M.A. in Public Service/Nonprofit Administration at Marquette University earlier in 2020. She was the recipient the Trinity Fellowship, a competitive program focused on social and economic justice, and she worked at Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity providing programmatic support for homeowners. Molly was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Trang, Thailand 2016–18 and in Karak, Jordan 2014–15. Since her return from the Peace Corps, she has been active in the RPCV community, serving on the board of the Milwaukee Peace Corps Association as their membership coordinator. Prior to Peace Corps she earned a B.A. in history and communications from Loyola University Chicago. She resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible.
Organize and mobilize virtual district meetings over the next seven weeks. see more
How can you help? Meet with your national legislators now – virtually.
By Jonathan Pearson
We are entering a period where the future of the Peace Corps is on the line. The next 18 to 36 months will be crucial to the survival of the agency. Why? Peace Corps must have the necessary resources to redeploy as soon as practicable, with expedited applications for recent evacuees.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are the most influential voices when it comes to speaking up for Peace Corps. And efforts to ensure Peace Corps’ future are ramping up now. It begins with virtual district office meetings.
First up: On Tuesday, August 25 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, RPCVs will virtually meet with Republican Congressman and Co-Chair of the House Peace Corps Caucus Garrett Graves. This personal outreach lets legislators know how important Peace Corps is to you — and you can help them understand the impact and value of Peace Corps service to communities back home.
Get on the map!
Check out our growing map of emerging meetings. If a meeting in your area is in the works, reach out and sign up. If no meeting appears in your area, follow this link to get started — and contact email@example.com to tell us where you want to organize a meeting.
What if I’ve never participated in an advocacy meeting before?
No problem! While past experience helps, passion and preparation can more than make up for that. If you are new to organizing or participating in advocacy meetings with Congressional offices, contact us if you want a review of some of the basics. We have also laid out six easy steps you can follow here.
Download Virtual District Office Meetings Materials
Steven Saum posted an articleHere’s how we’ve been advocating for evacuated Volunteers — and a Peace Corps in a changed world. see more
Here’s how we’ve been advocating for evacuated Volunteers — and a Peace Corps in a changed world.
By Jonathan Pearson and Steven Boyd Saum
The coronavirus pandemic and temporary suspension of all Peace Corps programs marks the greatest existential threat to the agency in its history. When Volunteers were evacuated, they were ripped from communities with hardly any notice; in March they came back to a pandemic and an economic maelstrom. Regulations typically would not allow them to be eligible for unemployment insurance; their health insurance coverage would expire in a month. In some cases they had no home to come back to.
Supporting those Volunteers became top priority. As part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law March 27, we lobbied for $88 million in additional funding to support the safe evacuation and immediate readjustment needs of Volunteers. Thanks to help from supporters in Congress, new regulations were issued by the Department of Labor declaring that evacuated Volunteers are eligible for unemployment insurance. Health insurance coverage was extended. We have also sent letters to governors of some states where evacuated Volunteers have had trouble receiving the unemployment assistance they should.
Thanks to help from supporters in Congress, new regulations were issued by the Department of Labor declaring that evacuated Volunteers are eligible for unemployment insurance. Health insurance coverage was extended.
What’s ahead? A concerted, lengthy mobilization is required to ensure the future of Peace Corps. And as nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd and racial injustice have made profoundly clear since the end of May, we need to uphold Peace Corps values of equity and justice here at home — as well as abroad — as we work to support Peace Corps in a changed world. That’s an essential part of our advocacy work as well.
On the Hill
It may seem a lifetime ago, but it was only on March 5, 2020 that 200 members of the Peace Corps community took part in our annual Day of Action on Capitol Hill. Groups of returned Volunteers — including 35 Volunteers from China, evacuated five weeks earlier — met with members of Congress. For the first time ever, we delivered materials to every senator and representative. Returned Volunteers also presented the NPCA Sam Farr Congressional Leadership Award to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky for their leadership on Peace Corps issues.
Ink on paper: some of the bipartisan support for Peace Corps last year.
Community advocacy was essential in getting a record 42 senators to sign the annual “Dear Colleague” letter in support of Peace Corps, co-authored by Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). It also bolstered efforts by the Peace Corps Caucus in the House — led by RPCVs John Garamendi (D-CA) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and Representative Garrett Graves (R-LA) — to secure 167 signatures on a House letter requesting $450 million for Peace Corps in fiscal year 2021.
As it turns out, our Day of Action was about the last big day of meetings for anyone on Capitol Hill before COVID-19 began to shut down Washington, D.C. The crisis that pandemic created for Volunteers has meant our advocacy work is more important than ever. That work just doesn’t happen in person right now.
The following section outlines positive legislation for Peace Corps and evacuees. But there’s one instance when we’ve asked the community to raise their voices against legislation: the Working Under Humanity’s Actual Needs (WUHAN) Rescissions Act introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) that would take back the funding used to support evacuated Volunteers
In the Works
There’s a great deal of national legislation in the works that our community can get behind — some that we helped shape.
UNITE Act (S.B. 3642)
Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) developed legislation with NPCA to mobilize U.S. citizens — especially evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers — to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding response programs. Extends opportunities for evacuees to purchase health insurance to six months. Calls for expedited procedures to redeploy evacuees. House Bill 6560 parallels it. Introduced by RPCV John Garamendi.
Senate Bill 3700
Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Addresses unemployment and health care benefits for evacuees, expands service opportunities, promotes return of Peace Corps programs.
Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act (S.B. 3624)
Chris Coons (D-DE), joined by Chris Van Hollen and others. Has drawn national media attention amid increasing calls for national public service programs.
Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service (CORPS) Act (S.B. 3964)
Senators Chris Coons, Roger Wicker (R-MS), and others. Expands national public service programs with priority enrollment for evacuated Volunteers.
Reauthorize Peace Corps Commemorative Project
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Representatives Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Garret Graves (R-LA) ask to extend time for work on a commemorative and park near the Capitol, celebrating the mission and ideals of the Peace Corps.
Letters: Combat COVID-19
National Health Corps Letter (April 21) to House leadership
Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Bill Foster (D-IL). Calls for a National Health Corps to combat COVID-19, specifically referencing evacuated RPCVs as a resource.
Bi-Cameral Letter (April 2)
Senator Chris Van Hollen and Representative Dean Phillips state the need for evacuees to have jobless protections and opportunities to use their skills to combat COVID-19.
Inspire to Serve Act of 2020 (H.R. 6415)
Introduced by Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and joined by Don Bacon (R-NE), Chrissy Houlahan, Michael Waltz (R-FL), and others.
Incorporates some recommendations offered by the Commission on Military, National and Public Service in a report issued in March 2020. Extends non-competitive eligibility for Peace Corps service from one to three years; proposes pilot program for Peace Corps Response Volunteers to work remotely; involves Peace Corps leadership in a national Council on Service.
Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers Act (H.R. 6833)
Introduced by Representatives Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Don Young (R-AK). Extends opportunity for evacuated RPCVs to continue to purchase health insurance through Peace Corps beyond three months. Calls for expedited opportunities for evacuated RPCVs in programs aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic here at home. Expedited opportunities to return to Peace Corps service. Also includes language of the no-cost, bi-partisan Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act to allow the Peace Corps logo on grave markers or death notices.
Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act (H.R. 6702)
Introduced by David Price (D-NC) and joined by more than 15 cosponsors. Funds 750,000 national service positions over three years to support pandemic relief and recovery. Gives placement priority to Peace Corps Volunteers, Fulbright grantees, or AmeriCorps participants whose service or grant was interrupted by COVID-19.
In the weeks ahead we will be calling on our community to support Peace Corps and its values. We hope you’ll join us and take action: advocacy.peacecorpsconnect.org
Jonathan Pearson is the Advocacy Director for National Peace Corps Association. Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of WorldView magazine. This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Summer 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:
STEP 1 - Create an account: Click here and create a login name and password. Use the code DIGITAL2020 to get it free.
STEP 2 - Get the app: For viewing the magazine on a phone or tablet, go to the App Store/Google Play and search for “WorldView magazine” and download the app. Or view the magazine on a laptop/desktop here.
Peace Corps legislation likely when Congress reconvenes in late April see more
Last week Congress approved legislation calling for $2.2 trillion in emergency stimulus—legislation that included $88 million for Peace Corps. That was the third law passed by Congress to address the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.
Work is now well underway on a fourth stimulus package, with more Peace Corps related legislation on the way.
Peace Corps Legislation Announced
National Peace Corps Association has been working closely with Congressional leaders to enhance benefits for Peace Corps Volunteers. On Friday, April 3, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation that would address several key concerns of the Peace Corps community. The legislation seeks to:
- Address the need to provide some form of unemployment compensation for evacuated Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who are jobless several months from now, having exhausted their initial Close of Service financial support (readjustment and evacuation allowance).
- Further extends health insurance benefits to evacuees.
- Expedite hiring of RPCVs using their Non-Competitive Eligibility for federal job openings.
- Prompt redeployment of Peace Corps Volunteers as soon as practicable and an expedited re-enrollment process for evacuated RPCVs.
“We applaud the bipartisan effort of Senators Murphy, Collins, and Feinstein to introduce this important legislation to address some of the longer-term support needs of evacuees, and to reinforce Peace Corps’ stated goal to redeploy Volunteers around the world as soon as possible,” said Glenn Blumhorst, National Peace Corps Association President and CEO. “While we anticipate the agency is already at work to address some of these concerns, we are so grateful that a number of congressional offices have been reaching out to us, asking how they also can best support Peace Corps and its Volunteers. Legislation such as this sends a strong message that Congress is committed to the return of thousands of Volunteers across our interconnected world, ready to address many of the major global challenges we face.”
This is the first of what are expected to be several legislative initiatives to address concerns and needs of the Peace Corps community.
Senate, House Letters Released
Also this week, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Dean Phillips issued a bicameral Senate/House letter to the Secretary of Labor asking that evacuated RPCVs and Americorps volunteers be eligible for unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act (part of the CARES Act, passed last week). A second letter calls upon Peace Corps, Americorps, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide RPCVs with the opportunity to enlist in domestic COVID-19 response efforts.
Read this press release to learn more about these letters.
Final Week for Peace Corps Funding Letter
Finally, we are about to enter the last week of NPCA Action Alert to ask Senators to sign an important Senate letter to support continued strong funding for Peace Corps' annual budget. Twenty-six senators have signed the letter, which has an April 10th deadline. Follow this link to learn more and take action!
A rundown of various Peace Corps COVID-19 legislation before Congress see more
Congressional response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes various legislative initiatives that fully or partially seek to support Peace Corps and the 7,300+ evacuated Volunteers. Here’s a summary of the key legislation that is currently under consideration.
Support this Legislation!
Follow this link to write your members of Congress in support of any/all of the following legislation.
Senate Bill 3700 (S. 3700)
NPCA worked closely on drafting this legislation that extends the period through which evacuees could purchase Peace Corps post-service health insurance; instructs Peace Corps to reopen programs as soon as practicable and expedites redeployment of evacuees; and promotes opportunities for evacuees to secure federal employment or assist with federal pandemic response efforts.
- Introduced by: Chris Murphy (D-CT); joined by Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
- Status: Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- Read the Bill Text
- Press Release
Senate Bill 3642 (S. 3642) — UNITE Act
This legislation, developed with NPCA, outlines proposals to expand COVID-19 response programs through the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and includes Peace Corps evacuees among those listed for priority hiring; extends opportunities for evacuees to purchase post-service health insurance to six months; calls for expedited procedures to redeploy evacuees, and for Peace Corps to issue a report on its redeployment plans, including plans to redeploy evacuees.
- Introduced by: Ed Markey (D-MA); joined by Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
- Status: Referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
- Read the Bill Text
- Press Release
Senate Bill 3624 (S. 3624) — Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act
This legislation would fund 750,000 national service positions over three years to support pandemic relief and recovery, and would include evacuated Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for priority placement through the program.
- Introduced by: Chris Coons (D-DE); joined originally by Jack Reed (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
- Status: Referred to the Finance Committee.
- Read the Bill Text
- Press Release
House of Representatives
House Bill 6833 (H.R. 6833) — Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers Act
This legislation was drafted in close coordination with NPCA and allows evacuees the possibility to purchase post-service health insurance through the agency beyond three months should they choose; instructs the Peace Corps to coordinate expedited processes to assist the placement of evacuees in pandemic response initiatives; and instructs Peace Corps to resume overseas programs as soon as practicable, with an expedited redeployment process for evacuees.
- Introduced by: Dean Phillips (D-MN); joined by Don Young (R-AK).
- Status: Referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Education and Labor Committee.
- Read the Bill Text
- Press Release
House Bill 6560 (H.R. 6560) — UNITE Act of 2020
Working with NPCA, this legislation outlines proposals to expand COVID-19 response programs through the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and includes Peace Corps evacuees among those listed for priority hiring; extends opportunities for evacuees to purchase post-service health insurance to six months; calls for expedited procedures to redeploy evacuees, and for Peace Corps to issue a report on its redeployment plans, including plans to redeploy evacuees.
- Introduced by: RPCV John Garamendi (D-CA); joined originally by Bobby Rush (D-IL), Debra Haaland (D-NM), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Sean Casten (D-IL), and Ann Kuster (D-NH).
- Status: Referred to the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.
- Read the Bill Text
- Press Release
House Bill 6415 (H.R. 6415) — Inspire to Serve Act of 2020
This legislation would extend Non-Competitive Eligibility for Peace Corps service to three years; proposes a pilot program through Peace Corps Response in which Response Volunteers could work remotely; involves Peace Corps leadership in a Council on Service; proposes Peace Corps, the Commission for National and Community Service, and the Department of Defense to collaborate on joint marketing and cross-promoting of various forms of service. (This bill incorporates some of the recommendations offered by the Commission on Military, National and Public Service).
- Introduced by: Jimmy Panetta (D-CA); joined originally by Don Bacon (R-NE), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), and Jason Crow (D-CO).
- Status: Referred to the Education and Labor, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and a number of other House committees.
- Read the Bill Text
House Bill 6702 (H.R. 6702) — Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act
This bill would fund 750,000 national service positions over three years to support pandemic relief and recovery, and includes evacuated Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for priority placement through the program.
- Introduced by: David Price (D-NC). Joined originally by Doris Matsui (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Kim Schirer (D-WA) and fifteen other original co-sponsors.
- Status: Referred to the Education and Labor, and Ways and Means Committees.
- Read the Bill Text
- Press Release
Write your members of Congress in support of any/all of the following legislation.
National Peace Corps Association Operations posted an articleNew House Legislation for Peace Corps Evacuees: Health Insurance, Helping at Home, Redeploying OverseasHouse legislation includes proposals for RPCV evacuees to continue service. see more
New Peace Corps legislation continues to emerge to help evacuated Volunteers, this time in the House of Representatives. On April 30, Representatives Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Don Young (R-AK) announced the “Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers Act,” which addresses several issues to support present and future needs of evacuated Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. The legislation is also supported by Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).
In a press release issued by Representative Phillips, National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst notes that “At the heart of this legislation are initiatives to engage these volunteers in what they do best — opportunities to continue serving others, both here at home to contain and overcome the pandemic, and overseas as soon as conditions permit Peace Corps to redeploy.”
The Phillips-Young legislation would:
- Extend the opportunity for evacuated RPCVs to continue to purchase health insurance through Peace Corps beyond the current three months.
- Instruct the Corporation for National and Community Service to expedite opportunities through which evacuated RPCVs can be assigned to programs aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic here at home.
- Expedite opportunities for evacuated RPCVs to return to Peace Corps service once it is practicable for the agency to begin redeploying volunteers overseas.
In light of the many lives being lost during the pandemic, the legislation also includes language of the no-cost, bi-partisan “Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act,” legislation that would allow the Peace Corps logo to be included on grave markers or in death notices.
“At the heart of this legislation are initiatives to engage these volunteers in what they do best — opportunities to continue serving others, both here at home to contain and overcome the pandemic, and overseas as soon as conditions permit Peace Corps to redeploy.”
— Glenn Blumhorst, President & CEO, National Peace Corps Association
2020 Progress: Efforts to Help Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers
National Peace Corps Association has been working with Congress on a variety of Peace Corps initiatives. The announcement of the Phillips-Young House legislation is the latest in a long string of positive steps to support Peace Corps and recent evacuees.
- Evacuee Unemployment Compensation Confirmed (April 28): The U.S. Labor Department issued guidelines which confirmed evacuated RPCVs are eligible for unemployment under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act. Read more here.
- National Health Corps Letter (April 21): In a letter to House leadership, Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Bill Foster (D-IL) propose the creation of a National Health Corps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically referencing evacuated RPCVs as a resource. Read more here.
- Markey Legislation (April 13): Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) announced legislation that seeks to mobilize U.S. citizens — especially evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers — to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
- Record Senate Funding Letter (April 10): A record 42 Senators signed the annual Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter. Led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the letter requests robust funding for Peace Corps in Fiscal Year 2021, which begins October 1. Read more here.
- Murphy Legislation (April 3): Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced legislation to address unemployment and health care benefits for Peace Corps evacuees, expand service opportunities, and promote the return of Peace Corps programs overseas. Read more here.
- Bi-Cameral Letters (April 2): Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) led joint Senate/House letters on the need for evacuees to have jobless protections and the need for evacuees to have opportunities to utilize their skills to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
- Peace Corps Stimulus (March 27): Congress passed and President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to respond to the pandemic. Included in that package was $88 million to cover the evacuation of 7,300 volunteers and provide initial readjustment support for the evacuees. Read more here.
- House Peace Corps Funding Letter (March 13): A bi-partisan group of 167 lawmakers signed a House Peace Corps funding letter requesting $450 million for Peace Corps in fiscal year 2021. The letter was issued by leaders of the Peace Corps Caucus RPCVs John Garamendi (D-CA) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and Representative Garrett Graves (R-LA). Read more here.
- Capitol Hill Advocacy Day (March 5): More than 200 members of the Peace Corps community conducted more than 220 meetings on Capitol Hill during NPCA’s 16th annual National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps. We were joined by 35 Peace Corps Volunteers from China, evacuated five weeks earlier, to speak to the importance of their work. See photo album here.
- Former Directors Support Independence (January 7): NPCA issued a letter authored and signed by ten former Peace Corps directors opposing Senate legislation to place Peace Corps under the authority of the State Department. Read more here.
Support our Efforts
Story Updated 01 May 2020 11 a.m.
Jade Colter posted an articleWhy placing the Peace Corps under the State Department is a bad idea see more
A Senate bill would make Peace Corps part of the State Department. Ten former Peace Corps directors write why that’s a terrible idea.
Here’s the text of a letter that ten former Peace Corps directors delivered on January 7 to senators James Risch and Bob Menendez, respectively Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The goal: Keep the international perception of Peace Corps’ independence and ensure the agency’s non-political status in order for its continued success. As part of NPCA’s National Days of Action, advocates met with lawmakers to take action against this legislation. In addition to our March 5 Capitol Hill advocacy day, RPCVs organized solidarity events nationally in March and April.
As former directors of Peace Corps, we are writing to respectfully request that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reject the bill S.2320, which would end the Peace Corps as an independent agency. That would place at risk the 7,400 Volunteers working in some 60 countries around the world and their mission of international cooperation and volunteer service.
The independence of the Peace Corps has been carefully protected by Presidents, Secretaries of State, and Congresses for the past 58 years. Part of the reason was to insure that Volunteers would not be confused with those carrying out day-to-day U.S. foreign and security policies. Turning the Peace Corps into a bureau of the Department of State would void that independence. The long-term strategic value of Volunteer service is to contribute to development in other countries, foster greater awareness of the United States through their partnership with citizens of other countries, and broaden our country’s understanding of other peoples when Volunteers return home.
Volunteers reflect U.S. values, the character of our citizens, and the nation’s strategic commitments to peace and mutual respect. Their invaluable achievements in international understanding have largely been possible because of the Peace Corps’ independence under 11 Presidents. It is noteworthy that the Peace Corps came into being under President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and its independence was re-affirmed by the law signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
“The Peace Corps is not an instrument of foreign policy because to make it so would rob it of its contribution to foreign policy.”
— Secretary of State Dean Rusk, 1961
It is why every Secretary of State has sent cables to every Ambassador directing them to respect and value that independence. The 1983 cable from President Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz was one example. He wrote, “To be effective (Peace Corps) must remain substantially separate from the formal day-to-day conduct and concerns of foreign policy because of its unique people-to-people character.” In 2007, Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice wrote: “The Peace Corps’ role and its need for separation from day-to-day activities of the mission are not comparable to those of other U.S. government agencies.” And in 1961, Secretary [Dean] Rusk wrote: “The Peace Corps is not an instrument of foreign policy because to make it so would rob it of its contribution to foreign policy.”
All of us, as former Directors of the Peace Corps under Democratic and Republican presidents, have met foreign ministers and heads of state, journalists and members of parliament, doctors and teachers, in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union who have said, “I was impacted by a Peace Corps Volunteer.” They then named the Volunteer. Then we would have a conversation about the power of the Peace Corps to bridge divides and empower people.
Volunteers today are working with their counterparts, teaching in schools, working in health clinics, bringing modern information technology to help farmers and small business, and conveying our belief in the mutual benefit of international cooperation. Peace Corps continues to receive more requests for Volunteers than it can satisfy and more requests to join the Peace Corps than it can accommodate with existing funding. The international perception of the Peace Corps’ independence and non-political nature is imperative to its continued success.
We are deeply concerned that the current legislative proposal S.2320, by ending that independence, would place both Volunteers and the Corps itself at grave risk.
Appointed by President Nixon, 1969–71
Appointed by President Nixon, 1973–74
Richard F. Celeste
Appointed by President Carter, 1979–81
Appointed by President Clinton, 1993–95
Mark D. Gearan
Appointed by President Clinton, 1995–99
Mark L. Schneider
Appointed by President Clinton, 1999–2001
Gaddi H. Vasquez
Appointed by President George W. Bush, 2002–06
Ronald A. Tschetter
Appointed by President George W. Bush, 2006–09
Aaron S. Williams
Appointed by President Obama, 2009–12
Appointed by President Obama, 2014–17
Joblessness is among the major concerns facing evacuated RPCVs see more
Today the U.S. Labor Department issued special unemployment guidelines which clarifies that evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers are eligible for this assistance.
Given the unique circumstances of the pandemic and the projection that evacuees would be returning to a seriously contracting economy, National Peace Corps Association has advocated for some type of joblessness assistance to address this concern.
The $2.2 trillion stimulus package to address the COVID-19 pandemic, approved on March 27, included a provision for “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” (PUA). Introduced by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), this part of the legislation created a temporary unemployment compensation program to provide federally funded benefits to people unable to work because of the Coronavirus.
Nearly a month ago, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) issued a joint Senate/House letter to clarify that evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers would be eligible for benefits under the PUA.
Tuesday’s guidelines specify that evacuees are indeed eligible (see Question 29 on page I-8):
29. Question: Is a Peace Corps and Americorps participant who is no longer volunteering because their volunteer sites are closed due to COVID-19 eligible for PUA?
Answer: Yes. An individual participating in Peace Corps and Americorps who would not qualify for regular UC, whose volunteer site is closed down as a direct result of COVID- 19, and who has suffered a loss of income is eligible for PUA.
“Good news,” Senator Van Hollen posted in a Tweet on Tuesday afternoon. “They were in limbo but we just learned that thousands of evacuated Peace Corps volunteers who were required to return from overseas posts will qualify to receive unemployment compensation. I also hope they can return to their missions as soon as it is safe to do so!”
In a press release Tuesday evening, Senator Van Hollen added: “For decades, Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers have served our country at home and abroad — promoting democracy, literacy, development and good will. Today, these men and women — thousands of whom have been recalled — deserve the same safety net provided to others at this moment of need. I’m glad to see the Department of Labor follow Congressional intent and provide the certainty of this relief.”
“The Peace Corps represents the very best in American leadership on a global stage,” Representative Phillips said in the press release, “with volunteers serving alongside communities in their fight against sickness, hunger, and economic insecurity. We must honor that commitment in this time of economic turmoil. I am thankful for the leadership of Senators Wyden and Van Hollen, and for the Department of Labor’s willingness to listen.”
Various states around the nation, including California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Texas are issuing guidelines for individuals to apply under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Individual evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers will need to contact state labor departments to find details on how to apply. A particular challenge may be faced by evacuees whose state of residence when they joined Peace Corps is different from their current state of residence. The advice shared with us: Start by reaching out to the labor department in your current state of residence.
This is one more important milestone in efforts to secure health and financial benefits for Volunteers. Read a recap of those efforts here.
Story updated April 28, 2020 at 20:15.
JM Ascienzo posted an articleWinners Announced for the 2016 Sam Farr Congressional Leadership Award see more
Today, the National Peace Corps Association is pleased to announce the selection of Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) as winners of its 2016 Sam Farr Congressional Leadership Award. The official presentation will take place on September 22nd during a reception following Peace Corps Connect’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day. Free tickets for Capitol Hill Advocacy Day are available here.
The award—formerly the Congressional Leadership Award—given annually to bipartisan members of Congress who demonstrate leadership to champion the Peace Corps and its ideals on Capitol Hill, has been renamed in honor of Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA). Congressman Farr, winner of the award in 2011 and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Colombia (1964-1966), is retiring from Congress in January at the end of his term.
Selected by NPCA’s Board of Directors, Congresswoman Granger and Congresswoman Lowey are receiving the award for their outstanding efforts to provide the Peace Corps with the necessary funds it needs to provide more Americans and host country communities with the opportunity to partner in development, service and peace. Congresswoman Granger and Congresswoman Lowey, Chairwoman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, fought hard to secure a record $410 million budget for the agency for this fiscal year.
Recognized numerous times for their work on behalf of vulnerable populations at home and abroad, Congresswoman Granger—serving the greater Fort Worth area as Texas’ 12th District representative since 1997—and Congresswoman Lowey—serving New Yorkers in the 20th, 18th and 17th Districts since 1989—both gave thanks to Congressman Farr upon receiving news of the announcement.
“From the time I first came onto the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressman Sam Farr and his compelling personal experience convinced me that the Peace Corps is a priority,” Congresswoman Granger said. “As Chairwoman of the Subcommittee, I strove to provide the resources needed to this important program. Congressman Farr has always been a tireless advocate for the Peace Corps, and I am honored to be selected as a co-recipient for the National Peace Corps Association’s 2016 Sam Farr Congressional Leadership Award.”
“It’s an honor to receive this year’s leadership award alongside my good friends and colleagues, Congresswoman Kay Granger and Congressman Sam Farr," Congresswoman Lowey said. "As the Chair and Ranking Member of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Kay and I have heeded Sam’s wise counsel for years and made Peace Corps funding a priority in our annual appropriations bill. Sam’s tireless energy and commitment to the Agency has helped thousands of young Americans volunteer as ambassadors across the world and represent the best our country has to offer. This year, on the Peace Corps’ 55th anniversary, we celebrate the service and sacrifice of over 220,000 volunteers.”
Known to his colleagues as Mr. Peace Corps, Congressman Farr has been serving California’s Central Coast as its 20th and 17th District representative since 1993. Driven by his experiences with poverty while serving in a barrio near Medellin, Congressman Farr has dedicated his life to Peace Corps ideals. From floor speeches in the House to arranging for his colleagues to meet with Volunteers in the field to making eleventh hour phone calls to appropriators, for over two decades Congressman Farr has reminded his colleagues that the Peace Corps is “the American taxpayer’s best bang for its buck.” The epitome of the Peace Corps’ Third Goal of educating Americans about a country of service, Congressman Farr has worked tirelessly to help achieve better relations between America and his beloved Colombia. He was awarded Colombia's Order of San Carlos in 2012.
It is said that Peace Corps Volunteers represent the best America has to offer. Sam Farr represents the best the Peace Corps has to offer.
Please join us in congratulating the 2016 Sam Farr Congressional Leadership Award recipients Congresswoman Granger and Congresswoman Lowey!
Nominations Now Accepted for the Inaugural 2016 Advocate of the Year Award
NPCA’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the creation of an Advocate of the Year Award, to be given to up to two individuals or NPCA affiliate groups for outstanding service to advocate for the Peace Corps and its ideals. The official presentation of the award will be given on September 22nd at the Peace Corps Connect Conference.
Nominations for the inaugural award will be accepted through August 31st. Click here to submit your online nomination.
Please join us in congratulating the 2016 Advocate of the Year Award recipient(s) on September 22nd at Peace Corps Connect.
Mike Buckler posted an articleHighest Peace Corps Funding Level Ever see more
With President Barack Obama signing into law a spending package for the current fiscal year that runs through September 30th, the Peace Corps will receive its highest appropriation in the agency’s 54-year history.
The President’s request of $410 million for the Peace Corps for Fiscal Year 2016 was included in final budget negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, between Senators and House Representatives. This increase is nearly eight percent above last year’s $379.5 million Peace Corps spending level. It also is higher than the previous high of $400 million, achieved in Fiscal Year 2010 (one year after the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) launched its MorePeaceCorps Campaign).
“This is a tremendous example that when the NPCA community comes together, great things can happen,” said NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. “With applications for Peace Corps service sharply on the rise, country requests for volunteers remaining backlogged, and ongoing reforms needed to improve the Peace Corps experience, the leadership demonstrated by Congress, President Obama and our Peace Corps champions on Capitol Hill could not be more timely.”
Blumhorst also praised the thousands of NPCA citizen advocates who took time to make this victory possible.
“We are regularly told by those who work and know Capitol Hill that the most important voice to bring to the table is the voice of the constituent. That’s exactly what the NPCA does, and we are so proud of our advocacy leaders who organized more than 60 critical district office meetings over the last several months, and the many, many more individuals who issued thousands of phone calls and written messages. The experience of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer is highly respected by Members of Congress and their staff. This significant step forward for the Peace Corps is their victory.”
Rachel Mannino posted an articleThank you to our #GivingTuesday Champions! see more
After the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday (November 28th) is a time to give back. The Peace Corps community needs your help this #GivingTuesday, so we can continue to support our members all year long!
In this challenging political environment, the Peace Corps community has to push incredibly hard to galvanize support for the Peace Corps in Congress. It was tough this year, when the White House and the House budget both cut Peace Corps funding by $12 million. However, thanks to the hard work of our community advocates, the Senate voted to level fund the agency. We’re still fighting for that level $410 million budget. Donations made during #GivingTuesday will help fund our advocacy efforts in 2018. We will continue building our network of volunteer advocacy coordinators across the country, and provide better technology to help our members reach out to Congressional leadership. We will also implement another day of action on the Hill.
NPCA #GivingTuesday Champions have committed to enlisting 10 people to donate $10 or more on #GivingTuesday and to sharing their Peace Corps stories to increase awareness and raise support. You can help, too. Here’s how:
- Sign up to be a #GivingTuesday Champion by emailing Rachel@peacecorpsconnect.org.
- Donate to the advocacy fund, and tell others about why you gave your contribution.
- Share our #GivingTuesday social media posts on your profiles, along with your own Peace Corps story, and ask your friends and family for donations.
Thank you for all you do to support NPCA. We need your passion for our advocacy work now more than ever!
Thank you #GivingTuesday Champions!
David A. Miron
Kristina J. Owens
Tyler Lloyd from My PC Story
Maine Peace Corps Association - #GivingTuesday outreach coordinated by Nicole Lewis and Valerie Young
It is time to Protect Peace Corps - Like Never Before see more
As Congress continues to develop legislation to provide emergency relief related to the coronavirus, it is imperative that the needs of Peace Corps - and its approximately 7,000 evacuated volunteers - are also taken into account.
Your Action is Urgently Needed:
National Peace Corps Association posted this new action which is directed at all Senators and members of the House of Representatives. The action urges financial support for Peace Corps to cover the extraordinary costs associated with the global suspension of programs.
It also urges support to address the many financial, health and other support needs evacuated volunteers are facing as they come home.
Peace Corps has taken an initial step in addressing these needs, announcing that payment of its post-service insurance offering to volunteers will be extended from 30 days to 60 days.
UPDATE: The White House has requested $73 million in additional funding for Peace Corps to assist with costs in bringing volunteers home.
UPDATE: In your letters, include the number of recently serving volunteers from your state.
Go Beyond Your Letters to Congress
The congressional action will allow you to:
- Edit the message and personalize it, speaking to your Peace Corps experience.
- Send a tweet to your lawmakers.
- Reach well beyond the immediate Peace Corps community to ask other family, friends and neighbors to help protect the Peace Corps.
- Craft and submit a local letter to the editor urging support for Peace Corps and its evacuated volunteers.
Thank you so much for taking action as we embark on a new, challenging chapter to protect the Peace Corps and support returned volunteers.
This is the fourth time President Trump is proposing Peace Corps cuts. see more
President Trump proposed a $9.3 million cut in baseline funding for the Peace Corps for Fiscal Year 2021. His proposal—sent to Congress this week—would provide $401.2 million for the agency, down from the current $410.5 million budget.
The request marks only the second time in the nearly 60-year history of the Peace Corps in which a president has proposed cutting agency funding for four consecutive years. In the previous three years, Congress responded by restoring the proposed cuts. However, the end result has been five consecutive years of flat funding for the agency.
In its budget justification report to Congress, Peace Corps says the budget will allow the agency "to continue supporting more than 6,700 Volunteers and trainees serving in 61 countries". However, that number is approximately eight percent below the 7,334 volunteers and trainees reported during the agency's annual census, conducted on September 30, 2019.
"In this period of growing prosperity, it is a shame that Peace Corps funding remains flat for five consecutive years,” said National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. “Now, the Administration once again proposes cuts that will further reduce Peace Corps' ability to meet the demand for volunteers around the world. We expect Congress will reject this budget cut and we hope Congress will find a way to give Peace Corps a raise in Fiscal Year 2021."
While Peace Corps' proposed budget represents a two percent reduction in funding, a much deeper 22 percent cut is proposed for the entire International Affairs Budget. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition issued this statement in response to those cuts.
As has been the case in each of the past three years, the White House has proposed the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which includes various domestic service programs including Americorps and Senior Corps. Voices for National Service issued this statement in response to the proposed elimination of CNCS.
Necessary funding for Peace Corps will be a primary point of focus during NPCA’s upcoming National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps. Contact Community Engagement Associate Arianna Richard at arianna@peacecorpsconnect to find out more about organizing an advocacy event in your area during March or April.
District office meetings, letter writing sessions...all in support of Peace Corps! see more
From Miami to San Diego, calls to action will be incorporated into viewings of a new Peace Corps documentary film. In Denver and Albany, letter writing gatherings are in the works. In Portland, Oregon, advocates are making their own video to share with lawmakers about why Peace Corps is important. And, from Richmond to Austin to San Bernardino, leaders of the Peace Corps community are seeking meetings with the district offices of their elected representatives.
As part of our 16th annual National Days of Action in support of the Peace Corps, community members from every corner of the country are organizing local solidarity events in support of the Peace Corps in March and April, in addition to out March 5th Capitol Hill National Day of Action.
You don't have to come to Washington to make known your support for the Peace Corps. Check out our interactive map below for details on activities being planned in your area. And, if there's nothing currently planned in your area, please fill out this registration form so you can be an advocacy leader in your state/region. Help us organize activities in every state!
Questions? Contact NPCA's Community Engagement Associate Arianna Richard for more information.
NPCA is proud to partner with Water Charity to bring clean water to the world.
Visit watercharity.com to learn more.
Ten former Peace Corps Directors oppose Senate legislation see more
A bi-partisan group of ten former Peace Corps directors are unified in their opposition to Senate legislation that would place Peace Corps operations under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of State, ending the agency’s independent status.
“The independence of the Peace Corps has been carefully protected by Presidents, Secretaries of State, and Congress for the past 58 years,” said the letter addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and signed by ten former directors. “Part of the reason (for this independence) is to ensure that Volunteers would not be confused with those carrying out day-to-day U.S. foreign and security policies. Turning the Peace Corps into a bureau of the Department of State would void that independence.”
The letter also references the 1961 statement of then Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who outlined the importance of Peace Corps independence at its inception: “The Peace Corps is not an instrument of foreign policy because to make it so would rob it of its contribution to foreign policy.”
Last July, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the "Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act" (S.2320), which proposes Peace Corps be made a subordinate agency within the Department of State, with the Peace Corps budget being incorporated into the State Department. The bill also calls for the removal of Volunteers currently serving in China and states that "the Peace Corps shall not operate in any country that is hostile to the national security interests of the United States, as determined by the Secretary of State."
As part of NPCA's upcoming National Days of Action, advocates will meet with lawmakers to take action on this legislation. Register here if you plan to join us for our March 5th Capitol Hill advocacy day or register here if you can organize a solidarity event in your community during March or April.
Have questions? We're here to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.