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.
Now work is well underway on a fourth stimulus package, with more Peace Corps related legislation on the way.
Peace Corps Legislation Announced
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. Working in consultation with NPCA, 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!
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.
Agency slated to receive $410 million for fifth consecutive year see more
After weeks of negotiations, Congress approved and President Trump signed a $1.4 trillion federal spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY 2020) that includes level funding of $410.5 million for Peace Corps.
The House of Representatives approved the spending package on December 17th, while the Senate ratified the package on December 19th. President Trump signed the legislation on December 20th, the day when a continuing resolution to keep the government operating was set to expire.
“While we realize our lawmakers have many difficult decisions before them when putting together our federal budget, it is disappointing they chose to flat fund Peace Corps once again,” said NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. “Other than a very minimal – one tenth of one percent – increase in spending last year, this will mark the fifth consecutive year that Peace Corps will be forced to manage its operations with the same amount of funding. When inflation is factored in, the agency will need to sustain operations with tens of millions of dollars less in purchasing power. Peace Corps is already experiencing negative impacts, at a time when the needs and importance of international service is as important as ever.”
While Congress only funded Peace Corps at current levels, it rejected the Trump Administration’s recommendation to cut funding by more than $14 million. The president has proposed cutting Peace Corps’ budget each of the past three years.
Did your affiliate group sign this year's letter? see more
With a new federal fiscal year underway and Congress yet to determine if Peace Corps funding will get an increase or continue to remain stagnant, it may seem strange to be turning any attention to the next budget cycle. But within the executive branch, staff at the Office of Management and Budget are hard at work preparing their recommendations for Congress for the 2021 Fiscal Year budget, which the president will present to Congress early next year.
Since 2013, NPCA has responded by seeking the assistance of our affiliate groups to bring the voice of the Peace Corps community to the White House. This is done in the form of an affiliate group sign-on letter urging the president to request strong funding for the Peace Corps.
Affiliate group leaders responded forcefully this year, 124 group representatives signed the letter, representing more than 68,000 of their members. That's a new record, surpassing the 115 group signatures collected in 2013.
This year's letter highlights the announcement made earlier this year to begin a program in Montenegro, and points to the ongoing desire from foreign countries to establish or increase Peace Corps programs. It highlights Peace Corps' significant role in supporting the Trump administration's Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. At the same time, it also expresses disappointment that the president's previous three budget requests have called for Peace Corps funding cuts, a presidential recommendation not seen in over four decades.
Our thanks to the many affiliate groups and leaders who joined together in common cause.
Proposed funding levels strongly suggests that Peace Corps will not receive a recommended raise. see more
As Senate leadership struggles to bring a Fiscal Year 2020 State/Foreign Operations bill to the Senate Floor for a vote, a recently released copy of proposed funding levels strongly suggests that Peace Corps will not receive the recommended raise from Senate appropriators.
The Senate's proposed funding level for the State Department and a wide range of international affairs programs totals $56.8 billion, a roughly 1.4 percent increase over current spending.
Included in the proposal released late this week is a recommendation that Peace Corps funding remain at $410.5 million.
Differences between House and Senate Funding Recommendations
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has already approved a State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill that recommends a 3.5 percent increase in Peace Corps funding, at $425 million.
With disagreements in funding levels and the end of the 2019 federal fiscal year just days away, Congress is moving to finalize a continuing resolution. This temporary funding bill will allow federal programs to continue operating after the October 1st deadline at current levels until both sides strike a long-term funding deal.
Eventually, both chambers will need to come together in a Conference Committee and negotiate agreed upon funding levels where differences exist. This includes the likely $14.5 million discrepancy in Peace Corps funding.
Watch for Updates
Stay connected to National Peace Corps Association for updates and opportunities for action in support of increased funding for Peace Corps. As the Senate and House look to be moving towards different recommendations, action alerts for strong Peace Corps funding are very likely this fall.
Build your skill set and be an essential NPCA community leader see more
With more than fifty district office advocacy meetings being held or scheduled around the country, volunteer advocacy coordinators are playing a key a role in reaching out to district offices, recruiting local RPCV advocates, and coordinating with NPCA staff in Washington.
Next week, members of the South Florida Returned Peace Corps Volunteers will be meeting with district office staff of Senator Rick Scott to discuss their reasons for opposing the senator's legislation to put an end to the independent status of the Peace Corps. The group's advocacy coordinator, Ana Ciereszko, is finalizing preparations for that meeting.
In central Massachusetts, advocacy coordinator Tim Garvin is preparing for some one-on-one time with House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) at an upcoming gathering.
Three weeks ago, central Wisconsin advocacy coordinator Judy Figi met with freshman Congressman Bryan Steil (R-WI) to help introduce him to key issues of the Peace Corps community.
And, at a recent town hall meeting in Fort Wayne, advocacy coordinator Faith Van Gilder questioned Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) about his support of the defeated Walker amendment, which among other things, called for eliminating Peace Corps funding in fiscal year 2020.
Sign Up Today!
You can become an NPCA advocacy coordinator. No prior experience is necessary. All you need is a passion for the Peace Corps, a willingness to learn some basics about successful citizen-lobbying, and a commitment to a little community organization within your regional/statewide Peace Corps community.
Interested? Contact NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson at email@example.com for more details, including plans for an advocacy coordinator introductory webinar later this year!
Be a leader. Add to your skill-set. Keep Peace Corps strong. see more
A defeated amendment to eliminate Peace Corps funding next fiscal year. Senate legislation to place Peace Corps under the Department of State. House legislation that would propose no less than $450 million for the Peace Corps, protect volunteer non-competitive eligibility (NCE) during a federal hiring freeze, increase pay for RPCVs on disability, and allow the Peace Corps logo to be used at gravesites of deceased volunteers and former staff.
The 116th Congress has before it legislation that will have an impact on these and other Peace Corps-related issues. That’s why we are promoting and supporting district office meetings around the nation over the next ten weeks. It is time your lawmakers hear from you!
Ten district office meetings involving RPCV constituents have been held over the past several weeks with dozens more currently in the planning stages. Additionally, NPCA is collaborating with grassroots organization RESULTS, whose advocates support legislation and policies to address global health and poverty. Where possible, NPCA and RESULTS advocates will come together as voices for a strong foreign policy that supports humanitarian assistance around the world.
We encourage you to join in! View this map to see where meetings have been held or are in the works. Contact us if you want more information on an existing meeting or are ready to step up and take the lead in organizing a meeting at a congressional district office near you!
As you review the map, note the following:
RED PINS = District office meetings that have already been conducted.
BLUE PINS = District office meetings that are scheduled or being actively pursued.
YELLOW PINS = Areas and lawmakers where interest in a district office meeting has been expressed, but where we have yet to confirm meetings are being actively pursued.
(Photo: Several weeks ago, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Fort Worth, Texas meet with the district director of Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) to discuss Peace Corps issues and thank the congresswoman for successfully opposing an amendment which would have eliminated all Peace Corps funding in Fiscal Year 2020)
ACTION ALERT: Oppose Legislation Introduced to Make Peace Corps a Sub-Agency of the State DepartmentPeace Corps' independence is imperative for its continued success see more
Keep Peace Corps Independent and Internationally Trusted
Join the Peace Corps community in protecting the independent, non-political nature of the Peace Corps by opposing legislation (S.2320) introduced by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) that would make Peace Corps subordinate to the Department of State under the direction of the Secretary of State.
By safeguarding Peace Corps' status as an independent agency, we can help to ensure that it will not be used to promote short-term goals of the Secretary of State or whichever administration is occupying the White House. The international perception of the Peace Corps' independence is imperative for its continued success, which is based on mutual respect and trust of the host countries.
Hundreds of members of the Peace Corps community gathered in Austin, TX to collaborate & innovate! see more
What happens when hundreds of members of the Peace Corps community get together to discuss innovation, collaboration, and service? An exhilarating two-and-a-half days of conversation on topics ranging from immigration to social media, economic development to climate change, and everything in between.
"What starts here changes the world." As our co-host, the Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association (HoTPCA), pointed out, this University of Texas at Austin saying applies to the shared Peace Corps experience and inspired attendees to be curious, go beyond expectations, and take what they learned in Austin back to their home communities.
The conference officially kicked off on Thursday, June 20th at the Austin Central Library with live music from RPCVs Kinky Friedman and Doster and Engle.
On Friday, the opening plenary session featured a conversation with Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen and NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. Afterwards, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding to renew the organizations’ commitments to support the Peace Corps’ mission and continue to implement initiatives that educate the public on Peace Corps programs. “The signing of this memorandum gives returned Peace Corps Volunteers a framework for a lifetime of service,” said Jody Olsen. “I ask every person at this conference to be strong as you talk about your volunteer experiences. You are key to the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers.”
Following, Kathleen Corey, President of the Women of Peace Corps Legacy, presented Sue Richiedei with the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement award for her outstanding impact on women's lives worldwide. NPCA Board Director Mariko Schmitz then presented the New York City Peace Corps Association (NYCPCA) and Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA) with the 2019 Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service.
Whether you served decades ago or are a recently returned Volunteer, the conference offered tremendous value and networking opportunities. The community content sessions and workshops focused on a variety of topics, including how to use technology to launch a business, innovations in global issues advocacy, transition assistance for recent RPCVs, how to harness market forces for social impact, and ways to work together to create positive political change in era of "America First." As Tom Lightbown (RPCV Niger 1965-1967) pointed out: "We made some new friends, including youngsters fresh out of service, discovered RPCVs with white hair from other countries of service with stories to tell, made some quite important contacts of value to our Guinean friend Ahmadou Baldé, and, overall, had a very positive first experience with Peace Corps Connect."
The energy throughout the conference was palpable, as well as the level of engagement. With interactive sessions such as "Stepping Up - Politics: The Next Level of the Third Goal" and "Be an RPCV Changemaker: Connecting via the Web to Spark Community and Economic Development in Your Peace Corps Site" participants learned strategies on how to be catalysts for change, both at home and abroad.
"The PC Connect Conference was both informative and inspiring. The theme of the conference was “Innovation for Good" and the breakout sessions highlighted many RPCV created programs, companies, and NGOs that contribute to that objective." - Greg Polk (NM RPCV)
During the Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting, the new Divisional Board Directors were presented and representatives from NPCA Affiliate Groups shared resources and opportunities to help groups thrive.
On Saturday, June 22, NPCA Board Director Katie Long kicked off the Annual General Membership Meeting with a special Peace Corps ukelele rendition of "You Can't Always Get What You Want," while NPCA Treasurer Patrick Fine provided a report on the financial status of the organization, and President Glenn Blumhorst outlined the successes of the past year.
During the Pitch Competition, six entities pleaded their case for a chance to win a $2,500 cash prize. The finalist were:
- Humans of Kiribati for its effort to save the island of Kiribati from rising sea levels
- Peace Corps Kids for promoting a just and inclusive world through multicultural and multiracial storytelling
- Trees for the Future's initiative Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) to break the cycle of poverty and eradicate hunger for 1 million people by planting 500 million trees in 125,000 Forest Gardens by 2025
- Jump Finance's credit model to provide students in developing countries with the capital and mentorship to finish their post-secondary education and launch their careers
- Teachers Training Pact, a programs for teachers who are helping transform students into successful lifelong learners
- Tiny House Coffee, a company created by two Peace Corps Volunteers that works directly with small producer coffee farmers to guarantee them economic stability.
Each finalist was scored based on their demonstrated social impact, innovation, sustainability, leadership, presentation, and clarity of concept. Ultimately, Jump Finance took the top prize.
As NPCA continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary, a special retrospective took a look at our formative years from the view point of the earliest leaders of the organization with Greg Flakus, First President (1986-1989); Margaret Riley, Third President (1983-1986); and Katy Hansen, Fourth President (1986-1989).
Attendees where also treated to a special excerpt from A Towering Task: A Peace Corps Documentary and a conversation with Director Alana DeJoseph who announced the premiere screening of the documentary is slated for September 22 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
During the closing plenary, Karen Keefer, NPCA Board Emeritus and Shriver Leadership Circle member, presented Liz Fanning with the 2019 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service for her tireless efforts to create and expand CorpsAfrica, a nonprofit organization that gives young Africans the opportunity to serve like Peace Corps Volunteers in their own countries.
The conversation then turned to a panel discussion examining the historic exodus from Central America and the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border. Reflecting on the special screening of ABRAZOS earlier in the day, a film by Luis Argueta that shows the transformational journey of a group of U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents—and in some instances their siblings—for the first time, NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst moderated a panel titled "Beyond Borders" featuring Maria Martin, Director of The Graciasvida Center for Media; John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent for National Public Radio; and Luis Argueta, acclaimed Guatemalan Film Director and Producer. The panelists underscored the need for policy solutions and the opportunities for the Peace Corps community to take action.
"We need to humanize immigrants. The global community needs to fight fiction with truth." - Luis Argueta
After the panel, Ken Lehman, NPCA's Advisory Council Member, presented Luis Argueta with the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. Lehman, in nominating Argueta for this award, noted that Argueta “has demonstrated that filmmakers from the developing world can produce world class stories illuminating important issues… [H]is involvement in the entire issue of Latino immigration has humanitarian dimensions, and civic meaning.”
In accepting the award, Argueta said "tell those who are fearful of people who are not like them about your host families" and challenged us to change the immigration narrative "from one of hate to one of love...we need to remember to practice the Golden Rule."
As the conference drew to a close, HoTPCA President Sally Waley announced Seattle as the host city for Peace Corps Connect 2020! She handed the "baton" over to Seattle Area Peace Corps Association (SEAPAX) President Brad Cleveland. The conference will have an emphasis on immigrants and refugees and will be centered around “Cultivating Connections.” While the exact dates are yet to be determined, SEAPAX leaders indicated they are looking for dates in the summer next year. Stay tuned for more information!