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  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    An update from the RPCVs for PSLF Relief see more

    The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has also been a focus of concern for members of the Peace Corps community, because returned Volunteers were left out of reforms that were supposed to help them. Now here’s some good news.


    By Katie McSheffrey


    Photo by JessicaRain / Wikimedia Commons

     

    Last October, the U.S. Department of Education announced an overhaul of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). But that initial overhaul, did not include proposals to help Peace Corps Volunteers. National Peace Corps Association has covered this in podcasts and WorldView magazine. Months later, those of us who have been leading the RPCVs for PSLF Relief Facebook group have some good news.

    First, a bit more background. In October 2021, the Secretary of Education announced a limited time waiver, through which borrowers may receive credit for past periods of repayment that would not otherwise qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The limited time waiver expires October 31, 2022. Unfortunately this waiver did not help the majority of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, whose loans were in economic hardship deferment status during their Peace Corps service. But advocacy efforts to fix the problem have now paid off.

     

    The Department of Education has announced a one-time addendum to the limited time waiver for borrowers under income-driven repayment plans, including those who are pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The deadline to apply is October 31, 2022.

     

    On April 19, 2022, the Department of Education announced a one-time addendum to the limited time waiver for borrowers under income-driven repayment plans, including those who are pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Included in the one-time addendum is a clarifying point that will greatly benefit many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers: “Months spent in deferment before 2013 will count under the waiver. Additionally, ED will include Economic Hardship Deferment on or after January 1, 2013. These periods of deferment will also be applied to your account in fall 2022.” 

    Unfortunately, periods of in-school deferment still do not count. That may affect Volunteers who participated in the Master’s International Program. 

    One important deadline to note: This limited time waiver will end on October 31, 2022. To take advantage of the waiver, borrowers must take steps as outlined on the Department of Education website to sign up for Public Service Loan Forgiveness prior to that date.

    While this is positive news for returned Volunteers to be included in the time-limited waiver, NPCA and the RPCVs for PSLF Relief Group are still working to advocate for permanent, retroactive change to the PSLF program to ensure all returned Volunteers qualify for this program, regardless of status while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Be sure to keep up-to-date on the latest changes to the PSLF program, as the Department of Education continues to update guidance for borrowers.

    For those with student loans, here’s something else important to keep in mind: The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on direct loans after a borrower has made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. Borrowers do not need to have their full 120 payments by the waiver deadline, but they do need to be signed up for the program so the Department of Education can verify Peace Corps service records. 

    Questions? Please feel free to contact the RPCVs for PSLF Relief group on Facebook.

     

     

    MORE TO THE STORY: 

    READ MORE about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness limited time waiver

    LEGISLATION INTRODUCED: On June 1, 2022, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Simplifying and Strengthening PSLF Act, to streamline and improve the troubled federal program to help Americans pursuing careers in public service — including firefighters, teachers, Peace Corps Volunteers, police officers, and those working for nonprofits — have their student loan debt forgiven.

    TAKE ACTION: Share your student loan story with lawmakers by writing to President Biden and your members of Congress through NPCA's Action Center.

     

     


    Katie McSheffrey served as a Volunteer in Azerbaijan 2009–11. She is currently the chief of staff in the Office of Human Capital for the Department of the Interior. She previously served as government affairs officer and public service engagement lead with the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service and with Peace Corps Headquarters.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    The deadline for members to sign onto this bipartisan letter is April 22. see more

    In the House of Representatives, today (April 22) is the deadline for a bipartisan letter from the co-chairs of the Peace Corps Caucus seeking a $40 million increase in agency funding. Now is the time to contact your House Rep and ask them to sign this letter. 

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Garret Graves (R-LA), co-chairs of the House Peace Corps Caucus, have begun circulating a Peace Corps funding letter asking other House members to sign on and ensure robust support for the agency as Volunteers return to service overseas. The letter, addressed to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State & Foreign Operations, calls for increasing Peace Corps funding for Fiscal Year 2023 from $410.5 million to $450 million. 

    Read the annual Dear Colleague Peace Corps funding letter, or find the text at the bottom of this post.

    Garamendi served with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. Together with Graves, in 2021 he introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act — the most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in decades. 

    In March 2022, Volunteers began returning to service overseas. They will be returning to dozens of countries in the months ahead. The Peace Corps agency has undertaken critical reforms to ensure a better and stronger Peace Corps for a changed world. But the agency needs funding to make all this possible.
     

     

    Deadline is This Friday, April 22 at 12 Noon EST. Take action now.

    Urge your House Representative to sign the Garamendi-Graves Peace Corps funding letter to support strong funding for Peace Corps in a changed world. Last year, a similar letter was signed by 156 members of the House of Representatives. We need your help to reach or surpass this mark! The current deadline to sign this letter is Friday, April 22, 2022.

     

    Take Action Now

     

     


    Who has signed the letter so far?

    Here are the lawmakers who have signed the Garamendi-Graves Peace Corps Funding Dear Colleague Letter for Fiscal Year 2023. 

     

    DEADLINE to sign on: 12 Noon Friday, April 22, 2022

    SIGNATURES as of Friday, April 22, 5:00 PM: 146 (THIS LETTER IS NOW CLOSED)

    SIGNATURES needed to reach our goal: 10

     

    Alabama: Sewell

    American Samoa: Radewagen

    Arizona: Gallego, Grijalva

    California: Barragan, Bass, Bera, Brownley, Carbajal, Cardenas, Chu, Correa, Costa, DeSaulnier, Eshoo, Garamendi (co-author), Huffman, Khanna, Young Kim, LaMalfa, Mike Levin, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Matsui, McNerney, Panetta, Scott Peters, Sanchez, Speier, Swalwell, Takano, Mike Thompson, Vargas

    Colorado: Crow, DeGette

    Connecticut: Courtney, Hayes, Himes, Larson

    District of Columbia: Norton

    Florida: Deutch, Soto

    Georgia: Bishop, McBath, Hank Johnson, David Scott, Williams

    Hawai'i: Kahele

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

    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, Levin, Slotkin, Stevens

    Minnesota: Craig, Phillips

    Nevada: Horsford, Titus

    New Hampshire: Kuster

    New Jersey: Andy Kim, Malinowski, Pascrell, Payne, Sherrill, Sires, Van Drew

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

    Northern Marianas: Sablan

    North Carolina: Adams, Butterfield, Manning

    Ohio: Beatty, Shontel Brown

    Oregon: Blumenauer, Bonamici, DeFazio

    Pennsylvania: Boyle, Doyle, Evans, Wild

    Puerto Rico: Gonzalez-Colon

    Rhode Island: Cicilline, Langevin

    Tennessee: Cohen

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

    Vermont: Welch

    Virginia: Beyer, Connolly, Luria, McEachin, Wexton

    Virgin Islands: Plaskett

    Washington: DelBene, Jayapal, Larsen, Schrier, Strickland

    Wisconsin: Kind, Moore

     

     

    Here’s the text of the House Peace Corps funding letter.

    Read it below — or download the PDF.


    April 28, 2022

     

    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:

    We respectfully request that you provide $450 million for the Peace Corps in the forthcoming “Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act” for fiscal year 2023. This funding level 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 10,000 volunteers worldwide. It is also consistent with the authorized funding level in the bipartisan “Peace Corps Reauthorization Act” (H.R.1456) reported favorably by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on September 30, 2021.

    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. In 2013, retired General Stanley McChrystal called this gap between applicants and national service opportunities like the Peace Corps “democratic energy wasted and a generation of patriotism needlessly squandered.”

    Peace Corps Volunteers serve our country in remote, challenging environments. In recent years, the Peace Corps has taken steps to improve the health and safety of its Volunteers. We believe the Peace Corps needs to do more, including fully implementing the Sam Farr Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-256). Increased funding is necessary to ensure that the Peace Corps can fulfill its commitment to the health and safety of American citizens who choose to serve. In addition, Congress must increase the federal workers’ compensation levels for Volunteers temporarily or permanently disabled because of their service abroad.

    Thank you for your leadership and past efforts to provide the Peace Corps with the resources needed to support the next generation of American leaders who volunteer abroad.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    John Garamendi
    Member of Congress

     

    Garret Graves
    Member of Congress

     

     

    Story updated April 25, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern


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

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Top priority is passing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act see more

    On March 3 we kicked off our 18th season of advocacy in support of the Peace Corps. Our key priority: passing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act. Congressional meetings are being organized, and op-eds are being published. Now is the time to get involved.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    National Peace Corps Association kicked off National Days of Advocacy in Support of the Peace Corps on March 3. For 18 years, this grassroots effort by the Peace Corps community to work with members of Congress has been one of NPCA’s key contributions to Peace Corps Week (which concluded on March 5, 2022). Moving forward, our key legislative priority this year is passing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, which will help ensure a better and stronger Peace Corps to meet the needs of a changed world.

    Last year, as Peace Corps celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding, it was amid a global pandemic and social distancing. A national crisis saw the U.S. Capitol closed to most visitors. This year, the dangers of COVID-19 are far from over, and our nation remains deeply polarized. After an invasion by Vladimir Putin, Ukraine is fighting a war it did not want and did not start.

    Yet, as Peace Corps posts around the world have increasingly met robust new protocols for health and safety, Volunteers are also soon going to begin returning to service in communities overseas. It is a time of unprecedented challenges and renewed opportunities. And it is a time when the mission of building peace and friendship is more important than ever before. In March and April, your involvement is key.

     

    March 3 Kickoff

    Our Days of Advocacy began with a virtual kickoff on Thursday, March 3. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former Peace Corps staff, invited Volunteers, and other supporters came together to hear remarks by Peace Corps champions in Congress including RPCV Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Advocacy leaders discussed the crucial work for improvements and reforms that will ensure that Volunteers are returning to a stronger, better, and well-resourced Peace Corps. Our highest legislative priority is to pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, the most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in decades.

    It's not too late to get involved in our National Days of Advocacy. A stronger and better Peace Corps begins with you!

     

    Take Individual Action Right Now

    Visit our NPCA Action Center 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 2022 Days of Advocacy map to see if any activities are already in the works, including virtual meetings with congressional offices, virtual letter writingadvocacy workshops, and more.

    If there’s no activity already scheduled in your area, fill out this form and help lead one.

     

    Meetings With Congress

    A key component of our 2022 Days of Advocacy will be district office or virtual meetings with congressional offices. This is particularly the case with your senators, where much work remains to advance and pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act.

    Here are details on how to plan and carry out effective advocacy meetings. No previous experience is necessary. NPCA advocacy staff and community leaders around the country are ready to assist you.

    We also put together the video below to give you an introduction to advocacy.

     

     

     

    More Resources for Your Meetings with Congress

    Visit our State Resources page for a one-page document about Peace Corps activity in your state and to see profiles of every member of Congress. The document is designed for you to download and share with congressional staff at the end of your office meetings.

    We are currently updating a more in-depth document with a more complete overview of legislative priorities. For right now, you can use the 2021 Fact Sheet.

     

    Priorities: Peace Corps Legislation, Funding, and More

    Our Days of Advocacy Agenda will continue taking shape as developments occur in the weeks and months ahead. We’ll update this page as more information becomes available. 
     

    Comprehensive Peace Corps Legislation in both the Senate and House of Representatives

    Passage of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act is NPCA’s top legislative priority in 2022.

    In the House of Representatives, returned Volunteer Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1456) in 2021. Last fall, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed this amended version of the legislation by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 44 to 4. 

    In the Senate, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), is expected to introduce similar legislation in March 2022.

    Here is our Peace Corps Reauthorization Act issue brief and talking points.

    Here is a one-page document you can give to your representatives during House meetings.

    Here is a one-page document you can give to your senators during Senate meetings.

     

    Peace Corps Funding in the Senate and House of Representatives

    Unfortunately, and for a seventh consecutive year, Congress approved a Fiscal Year 2022 spending plan that will include flat funding of $410.5 million for the Peace Corps. 

    There is better news as work begins on the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. On March 28th, President Biden submitted his FY 2023 budget to Congress. Included in his budget is a request of $430.5 million for the Peace Corps, a nearly five percent increase in funding.

    As with years past, we anticipate mobilizing our community in the coming weeks to urge lawmakers to sign House and Senate “Dear Colleague” letters supporting robust funding for the Peace Corps in FY 2023. Stay connected to NPCA advocacy for action related to these letters.

    Here is our Peace Corps Funding issue brief and talking points.
     

     

    Peace Corps Director Nomination | Senate Action Only

    On April 6, 2022, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn to become the 21st Peace Corps Director. Once officially nominated, Acting Director Spahn will face a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If she passes a vote in the committee, her confirmation would go to the full Senate for a final vote.

          Read more here about this nomination, including a supporting statement from NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst.

    If you have upcoming meetings with Senate offices (especially members of the Foreign Relations Committee), please urge swift, strong, and bipartisan confirmation of Carol Spahn as the next Peace Corps Director.

     

     

    Diversity and Inclusion Within the State Department | House of Representatives Action Only

    The Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of State Act (H.R. 4589) was introduced last July by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). The legislation would create a senior level position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to advocate for diversity within the State Department. A Leadership Council would be established and accountable for implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives. H.R. 4589 also changes promotion practices to improve retention and fairness, and creates a mentoring program within the agency.

    Here is our State Department Diversity Act issue brief and talking points.

    Here is a one-page document you can give to your representatives during House meetings.

     

    Story updated April 7, 2022 at 7:00 AM Eastern.


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

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    A statement from National Peace Corps Association see more

    We in the Peace Corps community stand in solidarity with the people and communities in Ukraine who are now in harm’s way.

     

    By Steven Boyd Saum, Jeffrey Janis, and Gretchen Upholt

     

    Early this morning, Ukraine — a free and independent nation — became the victim of an unprovoked war of aggression launched by Vladimir Putin, who ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops to invade. Missiles and shells have fallen in cities across the country. Apartment buildings and hospitals have been hit. Civilians have been terrorized and killed, while many thousands huddle in bomb shelters and metro stations. Meanwhile, brave citizens are lining up to give blood, knowing that it will be needed in days to come.

    We in the Peace Corps community unequivocally condemn these acts of brutal violence and call for the invasion to cease immediately. This is a war Ukrainians did not start and do not want. Many Russian citizens do not want this war either, and some have been arrested for protesting it. And we fear that as horrific as the acts have been already, the scale of violence and the level of brutality to come could be far worse. 

     

    We in the Peace Corps community unequivocally condemn these acts of brutal violence and call for the invasion to cease immediately. This is a war Ukrainians did not start and do not want.

     

    We are three of the 3,419 Peace Corps Volunteers who served in communities across an independent Ukraine over the past 30 years — from Kyiv to the Carpathians, Crimea to Chernihiv, L’viv to Luhansk, Odessa to Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv to Kherson. We and other Volunteers have learned Ukrainian and Russian and other languages, worked in communities as educators and to help build institutions. We have celebrated independence day with friends and colleagues for decades and sought to nurture understanding across divides. And we have learned the Ukrainian national anthem and sung of “cherished freedom;” a translation of the anthem’s title is “Ukraine Has Not Perished Yet.” 

    Volunteers have gone on to work as journalists and diplomats, NGO leaders and policymakers, and much more — with more than a few serving as election monitors as Ukraine journeys on the road toward building and sustaining democracy. And as we have been reminded in the United States in recent years, that is work each generation must undertake. 

     

    What you can do now

    In recent weeks, the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine, an affiliate group of National Peace Corps Association, asked members of the Peace Corps community to write members of Congress and the White House. “We want to raise awareness and urge the United States government and our European allies to do what is necessary to avert war and protect the sovereignty of the Ukrainian nation,” they wrote. “We want to see continued partnership that respects Ukraine’s agency as an independent democracy and outlasts what is only the most recent escalation of persistent aggression from Russia.”

    Indeed, that aggression is now an invasion. But you can and should take action to help. 

     

    WRITE: You can raise your voice in support of a free and independent Ukraine. Read more and take action here. You can modify this letter to acknowledge that war has already begun — and that we must stand with the people of Ukraine and support them in a time of crisis.

     

    STAND WITH UKRAINE IN PERSON: Members of the Peace Corps community across the United States and around the world will be taking part in events happening in the days ahead. Here is a list of events where you can participate. Connect with the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine to find returned Volunteers in communities who will be participating.  

     

    DONATE TO SUPPORT UKRAINIANS IN HARM’S WAY AND TO ASSIST REFUGEES | UPDATED MARCH 11, 2022

    We’ll continue to update this story with other organizations that can assist with aid.

    The U.S. State Department has shared this list with the message, “Many humanitarian organizations are providing urgent assistance to those affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Here are some ways you can help from wherever you are.”

    On March 3 the New York Times published this list of several major organizations that have programs to support Ukraine.

    On March 3 the Ukrainian-American Environmental Association shared this extensive list of U.S.-based and international organizations seeking to help with war relief efforts in Ukraine. The UAEA is co-directed by Kenneth Bossong, who served as a Volunteer in Ukraine 2000–03. 

    Support efforts that are part of the global Jewish response to the crisis and assisting members of the Jewish community in Ukraine, including the Ukraine Crisis Fund and Ukraine Jewish Community Relief Fund

    Nova Ukraine, which is based in Silicon Valley, is focused on humanitarian aid during the war. Read more about them here.

    The RPCV Alliance for Ukraine has put together this list of organizations which are providing assistance in Ukraine. It includes information about each organization and links for making donations. Note that there may be challenges now for Ukraine-based organizations to receive funds.

    Samaritan’s Purse is providing medical supplies in Ukraine and distributing food to refugees in neighboring countries. At least Ukraine RPCV is working with them.  Read more about them here.

     

    Why Ukraine Matters: Read, Listen, Understand — Voices from the Peace Corps Community

    Here are five journalists and scholars who have helped bring valuable reporting and perspectives to understanding current events, history, and policy in Ukraine. These are just a few ideas for where to start. And they have excellent recommendations for others to listen to and follow for a broader and deeper perspective.

     

     

    AS WE FACE A PERILOUS TIME in global events, it bears reminding that the Peace Corps was also founded at a time when catastrophic war loomed on the horizon. While the first groups of Peace Corps Volunteers were being trained in the summer of 1961, the Berlin Wall went up. The following October, the world teetered on the edge of the nuclear abyss with the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

    But that did not bring the mission of the Peace Corps — to build peace and friendship — to an end. Likewise today, as the first groups of Volunteers are preparing to return to service overseas in March, this crisis underscores how important that mission is. We support Ukraine’s right to be a free country as part of our commitment to building a more peaceful and just world.

     

    Story published February 24, 2022 at 19:05 Eastern. Updated March 11, 2022 at 2:00 PM Eastern to include additional ways to help Ukraine.


    Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of WorldView magazine and directs strategic communications for National Peace Corps Association. He served as a Volunteer in Luts’k, Ukraine, 1994–96 and directed academic exchanges for the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

    Jeffrey Janis serves on the Board of Directors for National Peace Corps Association. He was a Volunteer in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine 2004–06.

    Gretchen Upholt serves as treasurer for the Board of Directors for National Peace Corps Association. She was a Volunteer in Korop, Ukraine 2008–10.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    As volunteers return to serve, it's time for the President and Congress to support the Peace Corps see more

    Congress has finally passed a budget for fiscal year 2022. It keeps funding flat for the Peace Corps for the seventh year in a row. To ensure a better and stronger Peace Corps as Volunteers return to the field, and to enable the agency to make needed reforms, Congress needs to provide more funding. 

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Congress has completed its work on a budget for fiscal year 2022, passing a $1.5 trillion spending package. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, for a seventh consecutive year, instead of providing new resources to better meet the needs of a changed world, it keeps Peace Corps’ baseline funding flat at $410.5 million.

    We are nearly six months into the current fiscal year, FY 2022. The House of Representatives passed the spending bill on Wednesday night. The Senate approved the spending package on Thursday night. The spending package now goes to the president for his signature.

    The entire international affairs budget received only a small increase in funding. Final deliberations led to the removal of funds proposed for further resources to address COVID-19 both domestically and globally.

    Read this statement from the US Global Leadership Coalition.

    Read the latest news on congressional action.

     

     

    NPCA Statement: Let’s Ensure that Peace Corps Has Funding to Make Needed Reforms and Meet the Needs of a Changed World

    National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst issued this statement on final congressional action on FY 2022 congressional spending, and the upcoming FY 2023 budget:

    Last week, the Peace Corps community was excited to hear news that the first Volunteers are scheduled to return to service in Zambia and the Dominican Republic later this month, with plans well underway for the return of Volunteers to an additional 22 countries in the next few months.

    Today, we are disappointed and quite concerned that for the seventh consecutive year, Congress has approved a federal spending package that will continue flat funding for the Peace Corps' baseline appropriation through Fiscal Year 2022.

    There must not be an eighth consecutive year of flat funding. In the coming weeks, President Biden needs to present Congress with a Fiscal Year 2023 budget request that will support an accelerated return to service for Volunteers, a restoration of some of the purchasing power Peace Corps has been losing due to inflation, and an acknowledgement that a stronger Peace Corps, ready to initiate improvements and reforms to be its best, will have the resources to carry out is mission.

    The Peace Corps needs a raise. The President and Congress need to respond to that need.

     

    Take Action Now: Urge the President to Request Increased Funding to Support the Peace Corps as Volunteers Return to Service Overseas 

    With the conclusion of work on Fiscal Year 2022, attention will quickly shift to the fiscal year that will begin in October 2022. As Congress awaits President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget, take action now to urge the president to request increased funding for the Peace Corps as Volunteers return to the field.

     

    Write President Biden

     


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

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Marking the 61st anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps see more

    Celebrate Peace Corps Week February 27 – March 5. Events are taking place across the country and throughout the world. Here are a few highlights, including a special forum hosted by the Peace Corps Agency and a kickoff for National Days of Advocacy in Support of the Peace Corps.

     

    By NPCA Staff

     

    As we mark Peace Corps week in 2022, it is with a sense of both hope and fear. The Peace Corps Agency has announced that the first groups of Volunteers are preparing to return to service overseas in March. The first groups are set to begin service in Zambia and the Dominican Republic. Invitations are out for Volunteers to return to service in 24 countries in 2022.

    At the same time, a war of aggression in Europe like we haven’t seen in generations puts tens of millions of Ukrainians in harm’s way. That, along with other violence and conflict in the world, underscores the importance of a commitment to building peace and friendship across boundaries — around the world and here at home.

    We've included a few highlights below. The Peace Corps Agency has a list of more events around the country here.

     

     

    Tuesday, March 1, 2022

     

    7:00 – 8:30 PM EST: Celebrating Anne Baker’s 25 Years with NPCA

    For 25 years, most recently as vice president of National Peace Corps Association, Anne Baker (Fiji 1985–87) has led with grace and inspired each of us to seek what we can do to make our community and our world a better place. Now she’s making the shift to a well-deserved retirement. Join in celebrating Anne’s retirement and honoring her lifelong commitment to Peace Corps ideals at 7 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, March 1 — fittingly, Peace Corps Day!

    RSVP here.

     

     

    Wednesday, March 2, 2022

     

    7:00 EST: Women of Peace Corps Legacy: Continuing Connection Through Virtual Service

    Join Women of Peace Corps Legacy on Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. Eastern for an event featuring the Peace Corps Virtual Service Pilot. Learn more about the incredible women behind the pilot, and the innovation that enables Peace Corps to fulfill its mission and continue connections with communities overseas.

    Register here.

     

     

    Wendesday, March 2 and Thursday, March 3, 2022

     

    7:00 PM EST: A Virtual Peace Corps Museum Share and Tell

    Join Northern Virginia Returned Peace Corps Volunteers President Lisa Martin (Estonia 1996–98), special guest host Patricia Wand (Colombia 1963–65), and the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience for a two-day, virtual event celebrating Peace Corps Week! Participants will learn more about the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience and its mission to collect and preserve Peace Corps stories and objects donated by Volunteers.

    RPCVs are invited to share an item and a 3- to 5-minute story about it from their Peace Corps country of service. Sign up in advance with a photo of your item and brief description as well as your name, country, and years of service. These are two separate events on Zoom. Attend one or both.

    Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. Eastern | Presented by Silver Spring Town Center Inc. | RSVP

    Thursday, March 3 at 7 p.m. EasternPresented by NOVA RPCVs | RSVP

     

     

    Thursday, March 3, 2022

     

    2:00 PM EST | The Peace Corps Reimagined: A Keynote Address and Forum

    The Peace Corps agency hosts Peace Corps Reimagined: A Keynote Address and Forum on Thursday, March 3 at 2 p.m. Eastern. As part of Peace Corps Week 2022, Peace Corps’ Chief Executive Officer Carol Spahn will share how the Peace Corps has met this historic moment and the agency’s vision for the future. After the keynote address, attend interactive forum sessions for an overview of the Peace Corps’ efforts to reimagine service, advance equity, and deliver quality.

    Register here.

     

    8:00 – 9:30 PM EST: National Days of Advocacy Kickoff

    Join us for our 18th annual Days of Advocacy kickoff as we gear up for nation wide activities in March and April. We will be joined by special guest speakers, who will help kickoff our activities. We will be holding this event virtually and are looking forward to seeing you there. Questions? Email us.

    Register here.

     

     

    Story correctex Feb. 28, 2022 at 19:30.

  • 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
    Legislation would extend in-state tuition to Marylanders returning from service see more

    NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst and former Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen testified before a committee in the Maryland State Senate on January 19 to argue that returning Volunteers should receive in-state tuition benefits. Those who serve in the military and AmeriCorps already do.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Far too often, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are left behind at the state government level when it comes to benefits that are afforded to others for their service to our nation. In the state of Maryland, a legislative effort is underway to address one of those inequities: who qualifies for in-state tuition.

    Marylanders seeking in-state tuition have to prove they have lived in the state for the past two years. Because returning Peace Corps Volunteers are required to serve our nation overseas, they have been found to be ineligible for the tuition benefit once they come home — because of the residency requirement. This is despite the fact that other forms of public service, including military service and AmeriCorps, have an exemption to this rule.

    Legislation to bring Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) in line with others regarding in-state tuition passed last year in the Maryland House of Delegates, but time ran out for passage in the Senate. This year, the legislation has been introduced in both chambers, with public hearings held just two weeks into the 2022 session.

     

    Senate Hearing Testimony

    On Wednesday, January 19, the Maryland Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs held a hearing to take up the legislation. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Ronald Young of Frederick, told committee members that he viewed this legislation as a “technical correction” to fix an omission that should have been included in the first place. “What we’re trying to do is to allow these Peace Corps Volunteers to retain their in-state status when they return to Maryland.”

     

    “What we’re trying to do is to allow these Peace Corps Volunteers to retain their in-state status when they return to Maryland.”
    — State Senator Ronald Young

     

    National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst testified in support of the legislation, citing both the importance of Peace Corps service around the world, and the added domestic dividend returned Volunteers bring to their communities. “The benefits that RPCVs are provided as they return back are really modest, they’re quite limited in many ways,” said Blumhorst. “They do not compare closely to those of other forms of national service. One of our goals is to really address this challenge of having Peace Corps service addressed as a form of national service and seeking fair and equitable treatment for those alums who have served in the Peace Corps.”

    Former Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen also testified. Prior to becoming the 20th director of the Peace Corps, Olsen was on the faculty of the University of Maryland–Baltimore School of Social Work. “I watched the value that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers brought to their graduate education,” she said. “They offered so much in the classroom, they offered much with the faculty. In fact, faculty would tell me they are some of the strongest students they had in their master’s degree program.”

    Olsen also testified from first-hand experience that RPCVs bring added benefits to the state of Maryland. “I watched many of the RPCVs who chose Maryland and then stayed. They bought houses, they started families, they took professional jobs in the school systems, in mental health, and stayed as strong Maryland residents once they got their degree.”

    Watch a recording of the public hearing here. (Peace Corps bill is the first considered, beginning at 0:55 and ending at 13:00.)

     

    Written Testimony Includes Voices of Maryland RPCVs

    Along with verbal testimony given before the Senate committee, National Peace Corps Association also submitted written testimony to both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates. This testimony included comments and statements of support collected in a 24-hour period from more than 50 members of the Maryland Peace Corps community.

    Read the letter from NPCA and testimony from dozens of returned Volunteers here.

     

    Marylanders Can Take Action Here

    If you are a Maryland resident and want to contact your legislators to urge passage of this legislation, use this link to find your lawmakers. Urge them to support Senate Bill 50 (or House Bill 87). 

     


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

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Mark your calendars for March 3, 2022. And watch for news in January. see more

    National Peace Corps Association hopes to host in-person meetings as part of Capitol Hill Advocacy Day on March 3, 2022.

    This is an opportunity to meet with members of Congress and staff. The last in-person meetings were in March 2020, just days before the Capitol shut down. Health and safety concerns mean we can’t yet confirm in-person meetings in 2022, but NPCA hopes to announce definitive plans in January.

    Check back with the NPCA website for updates — or head to our homepage and scroll down to sign up for the NPCA Newsletter.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    House Foreign Affairs Committee passes the bill with ringing bipartisan approval: a vote of 44 to 4 see more

    In a time of partisan rancor, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passes the bill with ringing bipartisan approval: a vote of 44 to 4.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    It is a sweeping piece of Peace Corps legislation, addressing everything from Volunteer health, safety, and security, to enhanced support and recognition, to expanded opportunities through Peace Corps service, to prioritizing recent evacuees who wish to resume their service as Peace Corps begins redeployment. And over the next year, it is also a top priority on National Peace Corps Association’s advocacy agenda.

    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 1456), bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Garret Graves (R-LA), cleared its first legislative hurdle in late September when the House Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly approved the legislation by a vote of 44 to 4. The legislation awaits consideration before a second committee before possible consideration by the full House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), is working to introduce companion legislation.

     

    “This bill helps realize President John F. Kennedy’s vision of Americans ready to serve their nation in new and innovative ways.”
       —Rep. Gregory Meeks

     

    “Congress has not reauthorized the Peace Corps in over 20 years,” said Representative Garamendi in a press statement following the vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee. “It is vital for the ‘Peace Corps Reauthorization Act’ to become law so the Peace Corps can redeploy Volunteers worldwide once safe and prudent to do so and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place.”

    The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the legislation in the form of an amendment put forth by Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who praised Representative Garamendi for the bill, saying, “This bill helps realize President John F. Kennedy’s vision of Americans ready to serve their nation in new and innovative ways.”

    Read the original legislation here.

     

    House Foreign Affairs: Chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY), speaking, and ranking member Michael McCaul (R-TX). Photo by J. Scott Applewhite / AP

     

    What’s in the Legislation?

    The 41-page bill includes provisions to address both long-standing proposals and new ideas as the agency prepares for global redeployment.

     

    Among proposals for health, safety, and security:

    Extend work of the previously mandated Sexual Assault Advisory Council through 2025; right now that council’s authorization will sunset in 2023.

    Promote consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and improve staff training on anti-malarial drugs.

    Require reporting on the status of mental healthcare services as well as possible improvements to them.

    Implement procedures and policies to protect Volunteers from acts of reprisal or retaliation when they report concerns or problems.

     

    Past proposals that are also included in this legislation:

    Returned Peace Corps Volunteers coming home with service-related injuries or illness may be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, the compensation rate is exceedingly low, leaving some destitute and desperate. In 2014, RPCV Nancy Tongue, founder of the group Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, met with then Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Deputy Labor Secretary Christopher Lu, resulting in a proposal to provide some relief through an increase in the workers’ compensation rate. While introduced in previous legislation, this provision was stripped out in the past and has not been approved by Congress. H.R. 1456 once again includes this proposed compensation increase.

    Every year since 2013, Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) has introduced the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act. This one-paragraph legislation would simply amend the Peace Corps Act to honor Volunteers by allowing the Peace Corps emblem to be used at gravesites and in death notices. The text of the Respect Act is included in H.R. 1456.

    For many years, RPCVs have sought an enhancement of Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) opportunities for federal hiring, beyond the standard one year provided many years ago through an executive order. H.R. 1456 would codify the executive order and extend NCE status for qualified RPCVs from one to two years.

     

    Other initiatives included:

    Given the emergency deployment of Peace Corps Volunteers in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the service by Volunteers to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency with COVID-19 relief in 2021, H.R. 1456 would codify into law the allowance of future Volunteer deployment in the U.S. at the request of another federal agency.

    H.R. 1456 expands language regarding virtual volunteer opportunities and incorporates it into the Peace Corps Act. It notes that this provision will increase opportunities to recruit individuals who face barriers to physically serving in a country outside the U.S.

      

    Time to Mobilize

    NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst issued a call to action following the vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “To our community and other friends of the Peace Corps, make no mistake. (This) action was a significant step, but it is only one step in a lengthy process to pass this legislation in both chambers of Congress and send the bill to the president for his signature. Every individual who believes in a stronger and better and well-resourced Peace Corps needs to help us pass H.R. 1456.”

    Read more on this legislation here. And use NPCA’s Action Center to write to Congress about passing H.R. 1456.

     

    This story appears in the 60th-anniversary edition of WorldView magazine.


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

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    So returned Volunteers are rallying to try to fix that. And NPCA is working with them to help. see more

    So returned Volunteers are rallying to try to fix that. And NPCA is working with them to help.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced an overhaul of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Applicants who devote ten years of work in the public service sector (and make 120 qualifying student loan payments during that time) are eligible to have further loan payments forgiven. In a press release, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the changes were an attempt to live up to the promise of the program and could impact more than 550,000 borrowers.

    But, as a New York Times story published in November made clear, Peace Corps Volunteers fell through the cracks. We need to fix that. A number of returned Volunteers have mobilized to seek widespread relief that would enable them to automatically receive qualifying months toward PSLF for any months in which their federal student loans were in a deferment or forbearance status due to Peace Corps service. They have formed a Facebook group, RPCVs for PSLF Relief, which has become a focal point for organizing action.

    National Peace Corps Association has worked with some RPCVs to organize meetings with Congress and has launched an advocacy initiative to make sure folks on Capitol Hill and in the White House understand the scale of the problem. And NPCA’s Global Reentry Program hosted a conversation on the “Jobs with Jodi” podcast with returned Volunteers Katie McSheffrey (Azerbaijan 2009–11) and Sarah Kilchevskyi (Ukraine 2006–08) to straighten out some misperceptions about PSLF. As it turns out, part of the problem has been that Volunteers and returned Volunteers alike got bad advice, including from the Peace Corps agency.

     

    SHARE YOUR STORY: Go to NPCA’s Action Center to write President Biden and your members of Congress.

    LEARN MORE: NPCA hosted a conversation about the program as part of the “Jobs with Jodi” series on November 17. 

     

     

    This story appears in the 60th anniversary edition of WorldView magazine. 


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

  • 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

     

    LISTEN on Spotify to the converation with Bill Josephson, Bill Moyers, Joe Kennedy III, and Marieme Foote from September 22, 2021. 


    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.

    UPDATE: LISTEN on Spotify to the converation from September 22, 2021.

     

    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.

     

    LISTEN on Spotify to the converation from September 22, 2021.

     

    Story updated December 22, 2021 at 1:30 PM.


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

  • 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.

  • 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.