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Advocacy

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Our May advocacy agenda includes thank you messages, targeted legislative advocacy and media work! see more

    Now is a good time to thank representatives who signed on to the House Dear Colleague Letter. And there’s work ahead on bolstering support for the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act — and ensuring a robust budget to provide critical support for Volunteers — particularly when it comes to health and safety.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Our National Days of Advocacy in Support of the Peace Corps included more than 90 events and activities in March and April, with more scheduled for May — and more still being planned. Now is a good time to say thank you to Representatives who signed the House Peace Corps Funding Dear Colleague Letter.

    We still have important work ahead on bolstering support for the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (House Bill 1456), with the possibility of similar legislation being introduced in the Senate this month.

    And when President Biden releases a proposed budget for Peace Corps, we’ll need your help to ensure that Peace Corps has the funds to provide critical support for Volunteers — particularly when it comes to health and safety. 

    So, what’s next? Here’s our May agenda:

     

    Say thank you!

    Over the last few weeks we received an outpouring of support from representatives who signed the annual House Peace Corps Funding Dear Colleague Letter. If your member signed the letter, join us in thanking them for their support, and encouraging them to continue to champion Peace Corps–related legislation in order to improve and strengthen the Peace Corps. We are awaiting the release of a similar Senate Dear Colleague letter and will need your mobilization when the letter is issued.

     

    More House co-sponsors and Senate legislation?

    We still have some very important work to do with the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (House Bill 1456). With 45 confirmed co-sponsors (only three fewer than in the previous Congress), we must continue to encourage our representatives to co-sponsor this bill strengthening Peace Corps funding, programming, and Volunteer support. The proposed funding increases over four years would allow for us to build back a better Peace Corps that is capable of enacting many of the crucial changes that the Peace Corps community has raised as priorities. 

    May could also be the month when a similar reauthorization bill is introduced in the Senate. We hope that more information will be available soon. Keep an eye out for this anticipated legislation — and join us in supporting it! 

     

    Biden budget and media mobilization

    President Biden has already provided an overview of his much anticipated Fiscal Year 2022 budget, including a recommended 12 percent increase in our nation's international affairs programs. In the next two weeks, the White House is expected to send a fully detailed budget to Congress, including recommended funding for the Peace Corps.

    As the president's budget release will likely garner significant media attention, we want to be prepared to respond to news stories with letters-to-the-editor highlighting the Peace Corps portion of the budget. Can you plan to help us?  Write to us at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org to express your willingness to help. Include the city and state where you reside.

     

    Other actions

    Our action center continues to promote other issues through which you can raise your voice with your elected officials. Members of our community who have significant student loan debt can share your experiences with Congress as it debates this issue. You can also raise your Peace Corps community voice to your Senators, who have the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act before them now.

     


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association. Write him.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    A momentous anniversary. And we are coming together to commemorate, celebrate, and act! see more

    This year we mark 60 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the legislation creating the Peace Corps. Celebrate the moment in the morning. Take part in special advocacy programs throughout the day. And stay tuned for special news and commemorations from Capitol Hill.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    PHOTO: President John F. Kennedy signs the Peace Corps Act on September 22, 1961. Courtesy JFK Presidential Library and Museum

     

    As you prepare to join National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) for the 60th anniversary Peace Corps Connect conference September 23–25, we also invite you to take part in a special commemoration on September 22 — the anniversary of the signing of the Peace Corps Act.

    While plans are being finalized, here is the programming you can expect, with individual links to register for each event throughout the day.

     

    SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 | SCHEDULE 

    Events and timing subject to change. 

     

    Mark the Moment

    9:30 AM – 10:30 AM (Eastern)

    September 22, 1961 at 9:45 AM. That was the moment when President John F. Kennedy signed congressional legislation that formally established the Peace Corps. Join NPCA to celebrate this moment. Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, and Peace Corps pioneers Bill Josephson and Bill Moyers are scheduled to join us. Register here.

     

    Social Media Mobilization

    1:30 PM – 2:30 PM (Eastern)

    Have a Twitter account? Are you a regular on Facebook or Instagram? Got connections that run far and wide on LinkedIn? Make plans to be part of a nationwide social media mobilization to amplify the importance of the Peace Corps at this historic 60th anniversary moment. While activity is likely and encouraged throughout the day, you can also plan to stop by anytime during an hour-long zoom gathering to say hello to others, hear the latest from NPCA leaders and citizen advocates, and celebrate 60 years of the Peace Corps! Whether you stop by the virtual gathering or not, help amplify Peace Corps through social media: Register here and we’ll keep you in the loop.

     

    Honor Those Who Have Served | In-Person Wreath Laying at John F. Kennedy Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

    4:00 PM – 5:30 PM (Eastern)

    Northern Virginia Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (NOVARPCV) host a wreath-laying ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Speakers include Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn; former Congressman and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Sam Farr;  returned Volunteer Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA); and NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst, who will speak on the legacy of the Peace Corps to honor President John F. Kennedy. Following speeches, attendees will walk together to the grave site of President John F. Kennedy, where a wreath and flowers will be placed. This is an in-person event. Learn more and register here.

     

    Learn the Ropes: How to Become a Citizen Advocate

    8:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Eastern)

    If you’re interested in becoming a citizen advocate but aren’t sure how — or if you’re just wading in — this is the most important hour of the day. We need to substantially build our ranks to score significant victories in Congress in this key moment in Peace Corps’ history. Don't think you alone will make a difference? In this program, you’ll hear from NPCA advocates who absolutely have bringing on board legislators who have never supported Peace Corps in the past. Don't think lawmakers listen to what you say? We will hear from RPCV Capitol Hill staff on that topic. Not sure if you can make a difference? Hear some success stories from RPCV advocates. Interested in other issues? Meet members of RPCV special interest affiliate groups on how they bring their Peace Corps voice to the conversation.  

    (UPDATE) We are happy to announce this program will begin with remarks from RPCV Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), with an appeal to our community to help pass his Peace Corps Reauthorization Act legislation! Register here.

     

    60th Anniversary Live ... from Capitol Hill?

    Times TBD  

    We will be monitoring Capitol Hill for possible Peace Corps-related actions and news on or about September 22 — related to advancing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, support for Peace Corps funding, or commemorating the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Corps Act. Register here to be notified about any key Peace Corps developments that will be broadcast live from Capitol Hill.

      

    Story updated September 21, 2021 at 5:00 PM


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Peace Corps Funding: The House Says It’s Time to Invest in More see more

    It has been six years since the Peace Corps received a meaningful increase in its baseline funding. Could this be the year that changes?

     

    By Jonathon Pearson

    Illustration by John S. Dykes

     

    In December 2015, President Obama signed an appropriations bill that provided $410 million for the Peace Corps, an increase of about $30 million. Since then, the agency has received a mere $500,000 bump in annual appropriation — one-tenth of 1 percent. Indeed, the Peace Corps community has spent much time in recent years fending off proposed cuts while some needed reforms languished — due, in part, to lack of funding.

    In May, the Biden administration put forth its Fiscal Year 2022 budget recommendation: yet another year of flat funding for the Peace Corps. However, thanks to National Peace Corps Association’s advocacy network and congressional champions, the outlook has brightened. In July, the House of Representatives completed work on the State/Foreign Operations spending package, approving a $20 million jump in Peace Corps funding — about 5 percent. That was half the increase promoted by a bipartisan list of 156 House members who earlier in the year submitted their annual “Dear Colleague” letter to House appropriators.

    The $430.5 million House funding proposal aligns with this year’s Senate Peace Corps funding letter, with 39 senators on board. This news is promising. However, the Senate has yet to take formal action on its State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill. When senators resume work in mid-September, there is no guarantee they will follow the House’s lead. Experience shows that hearing from citizen advocates makes a difference. And an assessment of what’s ahead for the Peace Corps — relaunching Volunteer programs in scores of countries, with safety and security paramount — means a heavy lift.

     

    Write your senator

    Visit NPCA’s Action Center and urge support for no less than $430 million for the Peace Corps as we move toward redeployment of global operations and implementation of key reforms

     September 09, 2021
  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    The “Dear Colleague” Peace Corps letter draws signatories across the country. see more

    The “Dear Colleague” letter calling for $450 million in Peace Corps funding draws support from members of Congress across the country.
     

    By Jonathan Pearson

    Just a few weeks ago Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), Co-Chairs of the House Peace Corps Caucus, issued a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State/Foreign Operations for some long-needed support — and to bolster funding as the Peace Corps agency undertakes to send Volunteers back into the field. 

    The letter calls for increasing Peace Corps funding for Fiscal Year 2022 from $410 million to $450 million. Members of the Peace Corps community mobilized across the country to make sure their representative understood the importance of this support. 

    Thanks to those efforts, 156 lawmakers across the country signed the bipartisan House Peace Corps funding letter. That includes members of Congress from nearly every state — Alabama to Wisconsin, Delaware to Texas, California to Kansas — and from Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

    Read the letter here — or scroll down. And see who signed it below. 

    If you see your Representative listed as having signed this letter, please follow this link and thank them for taking positive bipartisan action to support the Peace Corps at this critical time.

    Thank Your Member of Congress

     


    SIGNATURES

    as of Monday, April 26, 10:00 AM: 156 

     

    Alabama: Sewell

    Alaska: Young

    American Samoa: Radewagan

    Arizona: Gallego, Grijalva

    California: Barragan, Bass, Bera, Brownley, Carbajal, Cardenas, Chu, Costa, DeSaulniers, Eshoo, Garamendi (co-author), Jacobs, Khanna, Kim, LaMalfa, Barbara Lee, Mike Levin, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Matsui, McNerney, Napolitano, Panetta, Peters, Sanchez, Speier, Swalwell, Takano, Vargas

    Colorado: Crow, DeGette, Neguse

    Connecticut: Courtney, Hayes, Himes, Larson

    Delaware: Blunt Rochester

    District of Columbia: Norton

    Florida: Deutch, Lawson, Soto, Wilson

    Georgia: Bishop, Hank Johnson, McBath, David Scott

    Hawaii: Kahele

    Illinois: Bustos, Danny Davis, Rodney Davis, Foster, Chuy Garcia, Kelly, Rush, Schakowsky

    Indiana: Carson

    Iowa: Axne

    Kansas: Davids

    Kentucky: Barr, Yarmuth

    Louisiana: Graves (co-author)

    Maine: Golden, Pingree

    Maryland: Brown, Raskin, Sarbanes

    Massachusetts: Auchincloss, Keating, Lynch, McGovern, Moulton, Neal, Pressley, Trahan

    Michigan: Dingell, Kildee, Slotkin

    Minnesota: Craig, Phillips

    Missouri: Cleaver

    Nevada: Horsford, Titus

    New Hampshire: Kuster

    New Jersey: Gottheimer, Kim, Malinowski, Norcross, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne, Sherrill, Sires, Van Drew

    New Mexico: Leger Fernandez

    New York: Clarke, Delgado, Jones, Higgins, Katko, Carolyn Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Meeks, Morelle, Rice, Suozzi, Tonko, Torres, Velazquez

    North Carolina: Adams, Manning

    Northern Marianas: Sablan

    Ohio: Beatty, Anthony Gonzalez

    Oregon: Blumenauer, Bonamici, DeFazio

    Pennsylvania: Boyle, Evans, Fitzpatrick, Wild

    Puerto Rico: Gonzalez-Colon

    Rhode Island: Cicilline, Langevin

    Tennessee: Cohen

    Texas: Allred, Castro, Doggett, Escobar, Vicente Gonzalez, Green, Jackson-Lee, E.B. Johnson, Veasey, Vela

    Vermont: Welch

    Virginia: Beyer, Connolly, Luria, McEachin, Spanberger, Wexton

    Virgin Islands: Plaskett

    Washington: DelBene, Jayapal, Larsen, Schrier, Adam Smith, Strickland

    Wisconsin: Kind, Moore

     

    If you see your Representative listed as having signed this letter, please follow this link and thank them for taking positive bipartisan action to support the Peace Corps at this critical time.

     


    Here’s the Text from the Letter

    Read it below — or download the PDF.

     

    April 28, 2021

     

    The Honorable Barbara Lee, Chairwoman
    Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs

    Committee on Appropriations

    U.S. House of Representatives

    The Honorable Hal Rogers, Ranking Member

    Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs

    Committee on Appropriations

    U.S. House of Representatives

     

    Dear Chairwoman Lee and Ranking Member Rogers:

    Thank you for your commitment to the Peace Corps. Because of your efforts, the agency is poised for even greater impact at a time when the unique role of the Peace Corps is urgently needed. To ensure the Peace Corps has the resources needed to further its mission, we respectfully ask that you appropriate $450 million for fiscal year 2022.

    Public support for Peace Corps remains strong, and its programs continue to renew and expand, but the agency’s potential is severely limited by its essentially flat funding levels in the past six years. The agency’s budget allocation has not increased beyond $410.5 million since fiscal year 2016. Providing $450 million for fiscal year 2022 would allow the Peace Corps to resume in-country Volunteer activities once safe and prudent to do so, and support the longstanding goal of deploying of 10,000 volunteers worldwide.

    More Americans want to serve than the Peace Corps has the funding to absorb. The ratio of annual applications to available Volunteer positions currently stands at over 4:1. Retired General Stanley McChrystal has called this gap between applicants and service opportunities “democratic energy wasted and a generation of patriotism needlessly squandered.” Additionally, six years of essentially flat funding has compelled the agency to cut both pre-service and in-service training days to meet budget restrictions, meaning Volunteers get less time for language, technical, and cross-cultural training.

    The Peace Corps works to accomplish its legislative mandate within the context of unique security challenges, and the agency has taken steps to improve the health and safety of its Volunteers as it implements provisions within the Sam Farr Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-256). However, there remain residual health care policy issues within the agency that require increased budgetary support. In particular, we need increased funding and compensation levels for Volunteers temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of their service abroad.

    Similar to members of our military and diplomatic corps, Peace Corps Volunteers take an oath to serve our country, and do so often in remote, challenging environments. Increased funding is necessary to ensure that Peace Corps can fulfill its commitment to the health and safety of American citizens who choose to serve.

    We thank you for your efforts to provide Peace Corps with the resources it needs to fuel the next generation of American leadership, and we respectfully ask that you make this $450 million investment in the agency for fiscal year 2022.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    John Garamendi
    Member of Congress

     

    Garret Graves
    Member of Congress

     


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    With your help we had another strong response in securing bipartisan support on this letter. see more

    A bipartisan letter from two members of Congress calls on colleagues to sign on to strong support for Peace Corps during this critical time.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) and Garret Graves (R-LA), Co-Chairs of the House Peace Corps Caucus, have issued a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State/Foreign Operations for some long-needed support — and to bolster funding as the agency undertakes to send Volunteers back into the field. The letter calls for increasing Peace Corps funding for Fiscal Year 2022 from $410 million to $450 million.

    You can read the final letter here, or see the list below for a state-by-state rundown of lawmakers who signed the letter.

     

    Take Action

    If your member of the House of Representatives is listed below, that means they signed onto the Peace Corps funding letter. If they signed the letter, send them a thank you message!

     

    Take Action Now

     

     

    Who Signed the Letter?

    Here are the lawmakers who signed the Garamendi-Graves Peace Corps Funding Dear Colleague Letter for Fiscal Year 2022. 

     

    DEADLINE to sign on: 10 AM Today, Monday, April 26, 2021

    SIGNATURES as of Monday, April 26, 10:00 AM: 156 (THIS LETTER IS NOW CLOSED)

     

    Alabama: Sewell

    Alaska: Young

    American Samoa: Radewagan

    Arizona: Gallego, Grijalva

    California: Barragan, Bass, Bera, Brownley, Carbajal, Cardenas, Chu, Costa, DeSaulniers, Eshoo, Garamendi (co-author), Jacobs, Khanna, Kim, LaMalfa, Barbara Lee, Mike Levin, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Matsui, McNerney, Napolitano, Panetta, Peters, Sanchez, Speier, Swalwell, Takano, Vargas

    Colorado: Crow, DeGette, Neguse

    Connecticut: Courtney, Hayes, Himes, Larson

    Delaware: Blunt Rochester

    District of Columbia: Norton

    Florida: Deutch, Lawson, Soto, Wilson

    Georgia: Bishop, Hank Johnson, McBath, David Scott

    Hawai'i: Kahele

    Illinois: Bustos, Danny Davis, Rodney Davis, Foster, Chuy Garcia, Kelly, Rush, Schakowsky

    Indiana: Carson

    Iowa: Axne

    Kansas: Davids

    Kentucky: Barr, Yarmuth

    Louisiana: Graves (co-author)

    Maine: Golden, Pingree

    Maryland: Brown, Raskin, Sarbanes

    Massachusetts: Auchincloss, Keating, Lynch, McGovern, Moulton, Neal, Pressley, Trahan

    Michigan: Dingell, Kildee, Slotkin

    Minnesota: Craig, Phillips

    Missouri: Cleaver

    Nevada: Horsford, Titus

    New Hampshire: Kuster

    New Jersey: Gottheimer, Kim, Malinowski, Norcross, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne, Sherrill, Sires, Van Drew

    New Mexico: Leger Fernandez

    New York: Clarke, Delgado, Jones, Higgins, Katko, Carolyn Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Meeks, Morelle, Rice, Suozzi, Tonko, Torres, Velazquez

    North Carolina: Adams, Manning

    Northern Marianas: Sablan

    Ohio: Beatty, Anthony Gonzalez

    Oregon: Blumenauer, Bonamici, DeFazio

    Pennsylvania: Boyle, Evans, Fitzpatrick, Wild

    Puerto Rico: Gonzalez-Colon

    Rhode Island: Cicilline, Langevin

    Tennessee: Cohen

    Texas: Allred, Castro, Doggett, Escobar, Vicente Gonzalez, Green, Jackson-Lee, E.B. Johnson, Veasey, Vela

    Vermont: Welch

    Virginia: Beyer, Connolly, Luria, McEachin, Spanberger, Wexton

    Virgin Islands: Plaskett

    Washington: DelBene, Jayapal, Larsen, Schrier, Adam Smith, Strickland

    Wisconsin: Kind, Moore

     

    Don’t see your Representative listed yet? Then they need to hear from you! Thanks for rallying others to join you in supporting Peace Corps at this critical time.


    Here’s the Text from the Letter

    Read it below — or download the PDF.

     

    April 28, 2021

     

    The Honorable Barbara Lee, Chairwoman
    Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs
    Committee on Appropriations
    U.S. House of Representatives

    The Honorable Hal Rogers, Ranking Member
    Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs
    Committee on Appropriations
    U.S. House of Representatives

     

    Dear Chairwoman Lee and Ranking Member Rogers:

    Thank you for your commitment to the Peace Corps. Because of your efforts, the agency is poised for even greater impact at a time when the unique role of the Peace Corps is urgently needed. To ensure the Peace Corps has the resources needed to further its mission, we respectfully ask that you appropriate $450 million for fiscal year 2022.

    Public support for Peace Corps remains strong, and its programs continue to renew and expand, but the agency’s potential is severely limited by its essentially flat funding levels in the past six years. The agency’s budget allocation has not increased beyond $410.5 million since fiscal year 2016. Providing $450 million for fiscal year 2022 would allow the Peace Corps to resume in-country Volunteer activities once safe and prudent to do so, and support the longstanding goal of deploying of 10,000 volunteers worldwide.

    More Americans want to serve than the Peace Corps has the funding to absorb. The ratio of annual applications to available Volunteer positions currently stands at over 4:1. Retired General Stanley McChrystal has called this gap between applicants and service opportunities “democratic energy wasted and a generation of patriotism needlessly squandered.” Additionally, six years of essentially flat funding has compelled the agency to cut both pre-service and in-service training days to meet budget restrictions, meaning Volunteers get less time for language, technical, and cross-cultural training.

    The Peace Corps works to accomplish its legislative mandate within the context of unique security challenges, and the agency has taken steps to improve the health and safety of its Volunteers as it implements provisions within the Sam Farr Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-256). However, there remain residual health care policy issues within the agency that require increased budgetary support. In particular, we need increased funding and compensation levels for Volunteers temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of their service abroad.

    Similar to members of our military and diplomatic corps, Peace Corps Volunteers take an oath to serve our country, and do so often in remote, challenging environments. Increased funding is necessary to ensure that Peace Corps can fulfill its commitment to the health and safety of American citizens who choose to serve.

    We thank you for your efforts to provide Peace Corps with the resources it needs to fuel the next generation of American leadership, and we respectfully ask that you make this $450 million investment in the agency for fiscal year 2022.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    John Garamendi
    Member of Congress

     

    Garret Graves
    Member of Congress

     

     

    Story updated April 7, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. 


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association. Write him at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    What will Peace Corps’ future hold? It’s up to us. And work is underway. see more

    On March 1 we kicked off a season of advocacy in support of the Peace Corps. And we’re working to transform it for a changed world. On March 1, Rep. John Garamendi introduced comprehensive Peace Corps legislation.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    For 17 years, one of National Peace Corps Association’s key contributions to Peace Corps Week is our National Days of Advocacy. This Peace Corps 60th anniversary year is marked by a global pandemic and social distancing, as well as national crisis that includes a U.S. Capitol closed to visitors. In spite of these unprecedented challenges, our advocacy mobilization carries on. And during the months of March and April, your involvement is needed like never before.

     

    Our March 1 Kickoff

    Our Days of Advocacy kickoff began on March 1 (Peace Corps Day). More than 250 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) former Peace Corps staff and other supporters joined a meeting which featured remarks by Peace Corps champions in Congress including RPCV Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). Several advocacy leaders shared their planned activities in the coming weeks and many joined individual state/regional breakout meetings to discuss further plans for mobilization.

    It's not too late to get involved in our National Days of Advocacy. In fact, we are just getting started!

     

    Take Individual Action Right Now

    Follow this link to write to your members of Congress. Share this link with others. We need every citizen who believes in the importance of the Peace Corps to contact Congress at this consequential moment in Peace Corps history!

     

    Get Involved

    Check out our 2021 Days of Advocacy map to see if any activities — virtual meetings with congressional offices, virtual letter writing, advocacy workshops, and more — are already in the works. If there’s no activity already scheduled in your area, fill out this form and help lead one!

     

    Virtual Workshop Recording

    If you are new to advocacy, follow this link for details on how to plan and carry out effective virtual advocacy meetings. And, here is a video recording of our March 9th Virtual Advocacy 101 Workshop.

     

     

    More Resources:

    Visit our State Resources page for a one-page document about Peace Corps activity in your state (which you can download and use as a leave behind document for congressional office meetings), and to see profiles of every member of Congress.

    Follow this link for our generic, two page leave behind document that you can share with congressional offices.

     

    Issues: Funding, Peace Corps Legislation, COVID Relief, Jobs

    Our Days of Advocacy Agenda is still taking shape. We’ll update this page as more information becomes available. During March and April 2021, here are some of our key Peace Corps–related advocacy issues:
     

    Peace Corps Funding

    Our advocacy to support strong Peace Corps funding begins now, as Congress begins to work on federal appropriations for Fiscal Year 2022 (which begins October 1, 2021). In the weeks to come, we anticipate intensive mobilization to urge members to sign annual Senate and House Peace Corps Funding “Dear Colleague” letters. Right now, our specific request is that you ask senators and representatives include strong funding for the Peace Corps when they submit their individual requests to their respective Appropriations Committee. The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (see below) recommends a roughly 10 percent increase in FY 22 funding for Peace Corps — from $410 Million to $450 Million — to support redeployment and key reforms.

    Click here to read our Peace Corps Funding issue brief and talking points.

    Click here to read the House Peace Corps Funding Dear Colleague letter.

    Click here for a letter writing action to support the House Dear Colleague letter.
     

    Comprehensive Peace Corps Legislation

    On March 1, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer John Garamendi (D-CA) and Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1456) in the House of Representatives. Read Congressman Garamendi's press release, which includes a link to the legislation and an outline of the many provisions to support, improve, and honor the work of Peace Corps Volunteers and those who have returned.

    At this time there is no companion legislation in the Senate.

    Click here to read our Peace Corps Reauthorization Act issue brief and talking points.

    Click here for a one–page document you can give to your representatives during House meetings. 
     

    COVID Relief and Jobs Legislation

    In both the Senate and the House, identical legislation has been introduced to mobilize resources, confront the COVID-19 pandemic, and prioritize the hiring of RPCVs (among others) in the response. The Health Force, Resilience Force and Jobs To Fight COVID-19 Act of 2021 (Senate Bill 32; House Bill 460) is starting to gain co-sponsors. Thank your members if they are already a co-sponsor. If they are not, ask them to co-sponsor this legislation. Click here to read our issue brief and talking points.

     

    Story updated April 7, 2021 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time. 


     Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Let's make this the largest mobilization of the Peace Corps community see more

    Last spring National Peace Corps Association delivered advocacy materials to every member of Congress. This year that work goes virtual. We kick things off March 1.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Starting in March 2021, and for the 17th consecutive year, National Peace Corps Association is planning National Days of Advocacy in Support of the Peace Corps.

    But this year we’re going virtual.

    March 1, 2021, will mark the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s executive order establishing the Peace Corps. Last year, Volunteers were evacuated from around the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The redeployment of Volunteers is expected in the coming months. And, with a new president and Congress — which will have nearly 70 new members — there is tremendous work to be done to ensure a strong future for the agency and its next generation of Volunteers. So we need a mobilization like never before.

     

    Congress has nearly 70 new members. There is tremendous work to be done to ensure a strong future for the agency and its next generation of Volunteers. 

     

    Step up, sign up!

    After a successful series of virtual district office meetings with lawmakers this past fall, we will be gearing up for nationwide activities during the months of March and April.

    Follow this link and sign up to be among the first to step forward to lead Days of Advocacy activities in your region. Take the lead organizing a virtual district meeting with your elected representatives. Organize a virtual letter writing night. Plan a statewide training on how to be an effective advocate for the Peace Corps. A stronger, better and redeployed Peace Corps begins with you! You won’t need to come to Washington, DC. You can be a leader from the comfort of your home.

     

     

    Join us March 1 for the kickoff

    We will kick off Days of Advocacy with a virtual gathering on March 1, 8:30–9:30 PM EST. 

    What’s in store:
     

    • Hear from several strong congressional supporters of Peace Corps including RPCV Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). 
       
    • Get an update on key pending Peace Corps legislation. 
       
    • Hear about Days of Advocacy activities being planned for the months of March and April. 

    At this critical, 60th anniversary moment for the Peace Corps, please join us! 

    Sign Up for March 1 Kickoff

     

    Questions? Contact us at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org.


    Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.

     

    Story updated February 15, 2021

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Health Force, Resilience Force and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act is presented in both houses. see more

    Health Force, Resilience Force and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act is presented in both houses. And a Peace Corps Reauthorization Act is in the works.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    As a new Congress settles in to begin its work, already in January new Peace Corps legislation is starting to emerge. And while new pieces of legislation are being developed, it is also likely that legislative initiatives introduced in the previous (116th) Congress will be reintroduced. 

    At National Peace Corps Association we are gearing up for our 17th annual National Days of Advocacy in Support of the Peace Corps. Some of the legislation shown below will be a key part of our citizen lobbying efforts. Sign up to lead a Days of Advocacy virtual activity in your state/region.

    We will update this story with news on emerging Peace Corps–related legislation.

     

    Senate:

    Health Force, Resilience Force and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act

    • Lead Sponsor(s): Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and nine others

    • Bill Number: S. 32

    • Copy of Bill/Press Release: Read Senator Gillibrand’s press release here.

    • Bill Summary: Legislation that would invest billions in the nation’s public health jobs and infrastructure and aid the country’s vaccine distribution campaign, and would invest billions in local public health infrastructure to recruit, train, and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans to build public health capacity in underserved communities. Additionally, the Resilience Force would complement the Health Force by bolstering the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workforce in the whole-of-government effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

    • Peace Corps Connection: Unemployed individuals who served in the Peace Corps would be among those prioritized for hiring under this legislation.

    • Quote From Senator Gillibrand: “Enacting a Health Force as part of robust federal plan would enable us to train hundreds of thousands of public health workers, create jobs in struggling communities, and ensure that every community has the resources to reach every American in need of the vaccine.”

     

     

    House of Representatives:

    Health Force, Resilience Force and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act

    • Lead Sponsor(s): Dean Phillips (D-MN), Jason Crow (D-CO), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)

    • Bill Number: TBD

    • Copy of Bill/Press Release: Read the release from Representative Phillips.

    • Bill Summary: Legislation that would invest billions in the nation’s public health jobs and infrastructure and aid the country’s vaccine distribution campaign, and would invest billions in local public health infrastructure to recruit, train, and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans to build public health capacity in underserved communities. Additionally, the Resilience Force would complement the Health Force by bolstering the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workforce in the whole-of-government effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

    • Peace Corps Connection: Unemployed individuals who served in the Peace Corps would be among those prioritized for hiring under this legislation.

    • Quote from Representative Phillips: “These are unprecedented times that demand thoughtful but expedient action to save lives. Americans deserve a coordinated, fully-funded government response. National service is a time-honored American tradition that is needed as we respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”

     

    Peace Corps Reauthorization Act

    • Lead Sponsor(s): John Garamendi (D-CA)
    • Bill Number: TBD
    • Copy of Bill/Press Release: TBA
    • Bill Summary: RPCV Congressman Garamendi is in the process of updating and reintroducing comprehensive legislation to support and improve the Peace Corps. The legislation is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.
    • Peace Corps Connection: This bill will focus exclusively on the Peace Corps and Peace Corps community.

     

    Story updated January 26, 2021 at 2 p.m.


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Congress passed the act with bipartisan support in both houses late last year. see more

    Congress passed the act with unanimous bipartisan support in both houses late last year. On January 5 President Trump signed it into law.

     By Jonathan Pearson and Steven Boyd Saum 

     
    On January 5 the Peace Corps community got some much-hoped-for good news: President Trump signed into law H.R. 7460, the Peace Corps Commemorative Work Extension Act, which extends the authority of the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation to establish a commemorative work on Federal lands in the District of Columbia to commemorate the mission of the Peace Corps and the ideals on which the Peace Corps was founded.

    Here is some background on the legislation.

      

    Congress Passed the Commemorative Time Extension

    Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Dominican Republic. After he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, one of the first pieces of legislation he introduced and passed provided congressional authorization for the creation of a Peace Corps Commemorative in Washington, D.C. On the afternoon of December 17, 2020, in the closing days of his fourth – and final – term in the House of Representatives, one of Congressman Kennedy’s final accomplishments included securing House passage of a time extension that will allow work on the commemorative to move forward without interruption. 

    Late on December 20, 2020, the United Sates Senate followed suit, quickly and unanimously approving the legislation.

    The Senate sponsors of companion legislation, Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued a press releaseafter the Senate vote, paying tribute to Peace Corps Volunteers and praising the unanimous bipartisan support for the project. “

    For more than 50 years, the Peace Corps has served as a powerful vehicle for volunteers who wish to use their talents to carry America’s humanitarian values to other parts of the world,” said Senator Portman. “By reauthorizing this project, we can ensure the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation can finish this important project and honor those Americans who have donated their time and talent to serving others. I am pleased my colleagues in the Senate passed this important legislation so that it will now be sent to the president’s desk." 

     

    Watch: “A lasting tribute” — Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) pay tribute to the service of Peace Corps Volunteers over 60 years and ask for passage of the bill.


    The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation has made great progress on this project, with design selection, site selection near the National Mall, and unanimous approval by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in September on the revised design concept.
     

    Rendering of Peace Corps Commemorative at Peace Corps Park. Courtesy of Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation.

     

    “A lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps”

    Congressman Joe Kennedy’s departure marks the end of an era. Since 1947, a Kennedy has had a seat in Congress with only two brief interruptions. The first, Joe Kennedy’s great uncle John F. Kennedy, created the Peace Corps by executive order in March 1961.   

    Speaking on the House floor, Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) noted that it is fitting for the Peace Corps Commemorative legislation to be sponsored by President Kennedy’s grand-nephew. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said the commemorative will serve as a “lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps.”

    On December 9, Joe Kennedy delivered his farewell remarks to the House and spoke of how it is the task of each generation to expand the meaning of “we” in the phrase “We the people,” the opening words of the U.S. Constitution. “Our future is big and bright,” Kennedy said, “bit it will take everything — and everyone — to reach it.”

    “Today the House unanimously passed a seven-year Commemorative authorization extension, among Rep. Kennedy’s final bills before ending his House term," said Roger Lewis, President of the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation. “Americans who have served as Volunteers, worked for the Peace Corps or share Peace Corps ideals and values, are profoundly grateful for Rep. Kennedy’s steadfast commitment to and support of the Peace Corps and its historic mission.”

     

    Congress Delivered a Funding Victory for the Peace Corps

    Significantly, Congress delivered a funding victory for Peace Corps in December as well: holding steady on funding as the agency prepares for redeployment of Volunteers in 2021 after an unprecedented global evacuation in 2020. In negotiations for a Fiscal Year 2021 spending package, Congress faced a choice of three very different routes: 

    1. Maintain level funding for the agency at $410.5 million, as it makes plans to begin redeploying Volunteers in 2021; this was the route recommended by the House of Representatives.
    2. Accept cuts of up to $51 million, trimming the budget to $359 million as was proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee. 
    3. Agreeing to a compromise figure between the House and Senate recommendations.

    As both chambers prepared for votes on the evening of December 21, 2020 release of the agreed-upon spending document revealed that Congress would move forward with the House recommendation of level Peace Corps funding, which is critical for investing in efforts to ensure the health and safety of Volunteers and the communities where they serve.

    “We are extremely grateful to our Capitol Hill Peace Corps champions for their efforts to make sure Peace Corps remains strong with level funding to help it begin the process of redeploying thousands of Volunteers in the field,” said National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst. “I also want to thank the thousands of members of the Peace Corps community who wrote a letter, made a phone call, reached out to neighbors and friends, or took action through the media. The fight to sustain funding for Peace Corps is your victory.”

    That’s not the only victory in the closing days of this Congress.

     

    Access for Menstrual Hygiene Products for Volunteers

    After meeting with and speaking to female Peace Corps Volunteers, Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced legislation in March 2020 to ensure access to menstrual hygiene products for Volunteers. House Bill 6118 called upon Peace Corps to develop a comprehensive policy to ensure Volunteers needing such products have adequate access wherever they are serving. 

    While the legislation did not pass, what it was aiming for will guide Peace Corps’ work going forward: In the Fiscal Year 2021 State/Foreign Operations Appropriations package, language pertaining to this legislation was included in the final agreement. The language instructs Peace Corps to provide a strategy, within 90 days after passage of the legislation, to ensure all Volunteers who need feminine hygiene products have access to them, regardless of country of service. The language further states that the strategy shall take into consideration availability of products in-country, the price of those products, and the local cultural norms surrounding menstruation.

     

    Peace Corps Redeployment and Evacuees: Congress Overrode Presidential Veto January 1

    High on the congressional priority list for passage each year is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Included in the 4,500 page document that has passed both chambers is reporting requirements pertaining to Peace Corps redeployment and Volunteers who were evacuated earlier in 2020.

    Introduced by Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN), the legislation calls for a report to Congress from Peace Corps three months after bill passage on efforts of the agency to:

    • Provide an update on offering a redeployed Peace Corps assignment to all evacuees who wish to continue service;
    • Obtain approval from countries of service to allow the return of Peace Corps Volunteers;
    • Provide adequate health and safety measures including COVID-19 contingency plans; and
    • Identify any need for additional appropriations or new statutory authorities and the changes in global conditions that would be necessary to achieve the goal of safely enrolling 7,300 Peace Corps Volunteers during the one-year period beginning on the date on which Peace Corps operations resume.

    President Trump vetoed the NDAA on issues not related to Peace Corps. But Congress overrode the veto on January 1, 2021, ensuring the measure becomes law.
     


    Last Updated January 6, 2021 at 1:15 PM.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    A victory for the Peace Corps community. And urgent action needed for funding. see more

    Legislation introduced by Joseph Kennedy III will enable a project years in the making to be seen through to completion. Senators Portman and Shaheen call on their colleagues to pass the bill as well. But funding for the Peace Corps Agency is still at risk for 2021, with the Senate having put forth a $51 million cut.

     By Jonathan Pearson

     

    After Dominican Republic Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, one of the first pieces of legislation he introduced and passed provided congressional authorization for the creation of a Peace Corps Commemorative in Washington, D.C.On the afternoon of December 17, 2020 in the closing days of his fourth – and final – term in the House of Representatives, one of Congressman Kennedy’s final accomplishments included securing House passage of a time extension that will allow work on the commemorative to move forward without interruption.

    The Peace Corps Commemorative Work Extension Act (H.R. 7460) passed unanimously on a voice vote. Final passage of the legislation still needs Senate approval and a presidential signature to become law.

    The Senate sponsors of companion legislation, Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued a press release after the House vote paying tribute to Peace Corps Volunteers and calling upon the Senate to pass the bill as well. “For more than 50 years, the Peace Corps has served as a powerful vehicle for volunteers who wish to use their talents to carry America’s humanitarian values to other parts of the world,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased that this legislation was approved by the House today, and I urge my Senate colleagues to support it so that it can head to the President’s desk for his signature.” 

     

     Watch: “A lasting tribute” — Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) pay tribute to the service of Peace Corps Volunteers over 60 years and ask for passage of the bill.


    The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation has made great progress on this project, with design selection, site selection near the National Mall, and unanimous approval by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in September on the revised design concept.

     

    Rendering of Peace Corps Commemorative at Peace Corps Park. Courtesy of Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation.

     

    “A lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps”

    Congressman Kennedy’s departure marks the end of an era. Since 1947, a Kennedy has had a seat in Congress with only two brief interruptions. The first, Joe Kennedy’s great uncle John F. Kennedy, created the Peace Corps by executive order in March 1961.   

    Speaking on the House floor, Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) noted that it is fitting for the Peace Corps Commemorative legislation to be sponsored by President Kennedy’s grand-nephew. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said the commemorative will serve as a “lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps.”

    On December 9, Joe Kennedy delivered his farewell remarks to the House and spoke of how it is the task of each generation to expand the meaning of “we” in the phrase “We the people,” the opening words of the U.S. Constitution. “Our future is big and bright,” Kennedy said, “bit it will take everything — and everyone — to reach it.”

    “Today the House unanimously passed a seven-year Commemorative authorization extension, among Rep. Kennedy’s final bills before ending his House term," said Roger Lewis, President of the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation. “Americans who have served as Volunteers, worked for the Peace Corps or share Peace Corps ideals and values, are profoundly grateful for Rep. Kennedy’s steadfast commitment to and support of the Peace Corps and its historic mission.”

     

     

    Peace Corps Funding Under Threat

    As the 116th Congress races to a close, Peace Corps-related activities in need of congressional action include advocating for full funding for the agency in 2021.

    The current deadline for Congress to complete its work on a Fiscal Year 2021 spending plan is midnight Friday, December 18. There are signs Congress might pass another continuing resolution to extend that deadline into the weekend and possibly early next week. Among the many items at stake is Peace Corps’ budget. While the House recommended level funding of $410.5 million, the Senate put forth a $359 million allocation – a $51 million cut.

    Make your voices heard with your lawmakers to urge them to support level funding for Peace Corps.

    Click Here to Take Action

     

    Peace Corps Redeployment and Evacuees

    High on the congressional priority list for passage each year is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Included in the 4,500 page document that has passed both chambers is reporting requirements pertaining to Peace Corps redeployment and Volunteers who were evacuated earlier in 2020.

    Introduced by Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN), the legislation calls for a report to Congress from Peace Corps three months after bill passage on efforts of the agency to:

    • Provide an update on offering a redeployed Peace Corps assignment to all evacuees who wish to continue service;
    • Obtain approval from countries of service to allow the return of Peace Corps Volunteers;
    • Provide adequate health and safety measures including COVID-19 contingency plans; and
    • Identify any need for additional appropriations or new statutory authorities and the changes in global conditions that would be necessary to achieve the goal of safely enrolling 7,300 Peace Corps Volunteers during the one-year period beginning on the date on which Peace Corps operations resume.

    President Trump has indicated that he will veto the NDAA on issues not related to Peace Corps. The president has until December 23 to do so. Congress is contemplating strategies to overturn the veto should it be issued.
     


    Last Updated December 18, 2020 at 4 PM. Watch this story for updates.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Your voice can prevent a $51 million cut to Peace Corps funding see more

    As Peace Corps prepares to redeploy Volunteers in early 2021, the work for Peace Corps’ future begins in earnest. And right now we need to make sure there’s funding for the towering task ahead.

    By Jonathan Pearson 

     

    Congress is working toward a December 11, 2020 deadline to agree on a Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 spending bill. And they have a $51 million Peace Corps funding difference to resolve.

    Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved an FY 2021 appropriations bill that includes level funding of $410.5 million for Peace Corps. But the Senate Appropriations Committee has put forth a spending bill that proposes cutting Peace Corps funding by $51 million — down to $359.5 million.

     

    Take Action

    Urge your Senator & Representative to Support Peace Corps Funding

     

    Six Reasons to Support Level Peace Corps Funding 

    Maybe you’ve heard rumblings along these lines: “Why should we provide the same funding to Peace Corps when there are no Volunteers in the field?” 

    Here are six reasons for starters:
     

    1. Redeployment Opportunities: Peace Corps plans to begin redeploying Volunteers in January 2021 in Cambodia and Saint Lucia. Further announcements could be coming soon. All 60 countries where Volunteers were serving prior to the pandemic have expressed interest in having Volunteers return. And, with positive news emerging about vaccines and other health protections, the prospects for significant redeployment in FY 2021 are on the rise.
       
    2. Flat Funding For Years: Fiscal Year 2021 would mark the sixth consecutive year in which Congress has not provided a funding increase to Peace Corps. This flat funding has limited opportunities and forced the agency to scale back some programming. During this period, adjusting for inflation, Peace Corps’ effective purchasing power has been reduced by up to $40 million.
       
    3. Health and Safety: The health, safety, and security of Volunteers is regularly cited as Peace Corps’ top priority. Rigthly so, it’s a critical concern when it comes to Congressional oversight. Redeploying Volunteers in a world living with COVID will come with additional costs. We owe it to the Volunteers and the communities where they serve to make sure that these heightened needs are met.
       
    4. Moment for Greatness: The current pause in Peace Corps service presents a unique moment to re-imagine, reshape, and retool Peace Corps for a changed world. NPCA has just released a community-driven report, “Peace Corps Connect to the Future,” that lists dozens of recommendations to reform and improve the Peace Corps. Implementing some of these recommendations requires new investment; and other longstanding reforms that have been called for have not been implemented because of funding. Now is the time to for bold change so that Peace Corps can meet the challenges of our new age. And, as we prepare to mark the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps in 2021, we can recommit to a Peace Corps whose impact in the years ahead will be even broader and more profound. 
       
    5. Opportunity for All: Among the critical recommendations in the ”Peace Corps Connect to the Future“ report is a call to break down racial and economic barriers to serving in the Peace Corps. Service as Volunteers should be accessible and welcoming for all qualified individuals who wish to serve their country. Building and sustaining this effort will require an ongoing commitment — and financial resources to make good on the promise.
       
    6. Serve, Serve, Serve! At home and abroad, we recognize the need for people and communities to come together in the spirit of serving together in solidarity. When it comes to Peace Corps Volunteers overseas — and investing the skills and valuable experience of returned Volunteers here at home — this is a time to build. There is bipartisan support for expanding service by Americans. Peace Corps can and should lead the way.

     

  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    A Volunteer on his first experience organizing meetings with Congress to advocate for Peace Corps see more

    A Volunteer evacuated from Mongolia on work to help members of Congress understand the value of Peace Corps service — and what they can do to help 

    By Daniel Lang

     

    The summer of 2019 I was training to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia. More politically involved peers raised concerns that we should not take for granted that legislators would continue to fund the Peace Corps; more than 100 members of the House voted to defund it. That fall I swore in as a Volunteer and a close friend, Austin Frenes, began service in China. We both received assignments as university English instructors.

    In January 2020, Austin learned his cohort would be China’s last; the program would, in Peace Corps terms, graduate. Mongolia began to restrict travel amid a preemptive quarantine. Peace Corps China consolidated in Thailand — then ended. In February, Peace Corps Mongolia evacuated; we were put on administrative hold. A week later, home in Nevada, I got word that our service was closing. I’m waiting to hear when we might reinstate. 

    I wasn’t looking for a leadership role in organizing meetings with members of Congress. I had no experience as a citizen lobbyist. But in August I saw a call to action email from National Peace Corps Association asking me to do exactly that, as part of a “virtual district office initiative.” I attended a webinar and learned NPCA had no documented meetings of returned Volunteers with Nevada’s congresspeople. I knew our legislators could do more to support Peace Corps.

     

    The possibility of making important contributions  like this are why, we said, it was important for Peace Corps to both become better and to redeploy.

     

    NPCA’s Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson helped me to decide which lawmakers to meet with. He put me in touch with other Nevada RPCVs whose service spanned continents and decades. They were strangers to me personally, but we had that common bond as Volunteers. They also echoed advice I had heard in training: We might not know the greatest impact of our service for years to come.

    Earlier in the summer I had shared a story of my Peace Corps service with a high school classmate. Through her, we were able to arrange a Zoom call with the staff of my congressman, Steven Horsford (D-NV) in September. On the call were fellow Volunteers Alexis Zickafoose (Georgia, 2018-20), Alan Klawitter (Liberia, 1975-77), Taj Ainlay (Malaysia, 1973-75) and Kathleen DeVleming (Ethiopia, 1972-74). Alexis was just finishing her second year of service when she was evacuated. Alan and Taj shared stories of their service and the impacts of Peace Corps over the years — reasons why we were asking our representative to support H.R. 3456, the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act introduced by RPCV Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), and H.R. 6833, the Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers Act introduced by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN).

     

    RPCVs in the Show Me State: A district meeting with staff from U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) included Kirsty Morgan (Kazakhstan 1998–2000), Erin Robinson (South Africa 2005–07), Don Spiers (Venezuela 1973–75), Joseph O’Sullivan (Brazil 1973–75), Amy Morros (Mali 1996–98), and Mia Richardson (North Macedonia 2018–20), founder of RPCVs Serving at Home. Photo by Amy Morros

     

    Kathleen raised points about the skill sets of many Volunteers, and the importance of legislation aimed at putting RPCVs to work to help combat the pandemic here at home. She spoke about the work that her husband, John DeVleming, had done to eradicate smallpox in Ethiopia while serving as a Volunteer and working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The possibility of making important contributions like this are why, we said, it was important for Peace Corps to both become better and to redeploy.

    I realized a few things from this experience. This work is all in our Third Goal — helping Americans, including our representatives and senators in Congress, better understand the world. It’s also part of showing openness, adaptability, and flexibility. And serving as a citizen lobbyist at home is much like engaging in citizen diplomacy abroad.

    Ultimately, all U.S. citizens can contact our leaders — or, should I say, our public servants. I know we’re all called to act in different hours. I felt this as my hour. I hope you consider this, too. Let’s help make sure that Peace Corps endures as something even better than it has been.

     

    As of press time, RPCV advocates have organized 30 virtual district office meetings across 16 states, with dozens of additional meetings being sought. Make plans to participate in our next round of district meetings, coming in March 2021 during our annual National Days of Action.

     


    This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Fall 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.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Urge your Senators to pass legislation on voting rights and police reform. see more

    As we celebrate an anniversary, renew a commitment to building peace and friendship here are home by taking a stand for equity and justice under the law.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    We are just days away from the 60th anniversary of a moment that jump-started the establishment of the Peace Corps. At 2 a.m. on October 14, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave an impromptu speech outside the University of Michigan’s student union. After a day of campaigning, he didn’t expect a crowd of thousands to be waitinig, but there they were. 

    Those familiar with the speech recall these words:

    "How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?”

    Not as well known are the words that followed:

    “On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can! And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.”

     

    “I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.”

     

    In the months ahead, the enthusiastic answer to Kennedy’s question led to the creation of the Peace Corps — and began a journey that nearly a quarter million Volunteers have undertaken. Sixty years after this foundational moment for the Peace Corps, we invite you to contribute a small “part of your life to this country” — through an advocacy action that seeks to help our nation fulfill its promise of justice and equality for all. 

    We invite you to write to your U.S. senators and urge action on two pieces of legislation before that body:

    • Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 4263), named after the iconic Congressman and civil rights leader whose beloved wife Lillian Miles Lewis, earlier served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nigeria.
       
    • Meanwhile, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (S. 3912), similar to legislation passed in the House named in remembrance of George Floyd.

    By following this link, you can send personalized messages as a member of the Peace Corps community, urging your Senators to take action.


    Take Action

     

  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    Welcome 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 DevelopmentFinance 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.

     

     September 17, 2020
  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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 advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org 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

      

    Download Toolkit

    Organize a Virtual District Office Meeting