Communications Intern posted an articleTop 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!
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 writing, advocacy 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.
For just one day in 2020 - make a difference for Peace Corps see more
As 2019 winds down, advocates for a strong and vibrant Peace Corps will reflect on a year which saw introduction of comprehensive legislation in the House of Representatives to further support and honor the Peace Corps community, a proposed (and defeated) vote to eliminate all Peace Corps funding in the current fiscal year, Senate legislation to place Peace Corps under the State Department, and a pending decision to support stable – or slightly higher – funding for the agency.
These challenging issues will be front and center in March 2020 for the 16th consecutive National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps.
Sharing your experience on the importance of Peace Corps to your congressional representatives is as important as it ever has been. Sign up to help! Here's how:
Come to Capitol Hill in March
Our annual day-long Capitol Hill advocacy day is set for Thursday, March 5, 2020. We’re planning for at least 150 advocates to be with us for a full day of direct advocacy. You can start planning to be with us by registering right here, right now! The deadline to register is Thursday, February 13th.
Organize a Solidarity Event at Home
Whether it’s a letter writing party, an advocacy 101 training, or a district office meeting with your member of Congress, we need Days of Action solidarity events throughout next March (and even into April). Don’t delay, sign up here today so we can start planning with you.
Have questions? We're here to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's time to start mobilizing for this annual Capitol Hill gathering of the Peace Corps community! see more
The power of the Peace Corps lies within you.
- The individual Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) with a story to tell about how Peace Corps transformed so many lives - including their own.
- The former Peace Corps staff member who knows the intricacies of operating an agency that has serviced more than 225,000 volunteers.
- The leaders of National Peace Corps Association affiliate groups whose dedication to ongoing service and bringing the world home is central to their mission.
- The Peace Corps applicant who desperately hopes to be part of this iconic symbol of the United States at its best.
For all of you, the time is coming for you to personally tell Congress about the power of the Peace Corps!
During NPCA's National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps we're holding our annual Capitol Hill Day of Action on March 1, 2018. With supply and demand for volunteers skyrocketing, communities all over the world in need, people-to-people relationships increasingly critical, and an RPCV healthcare bill in need of passage, we need to tell America's lawmakers to prioritize Peace Corps funding and legislation.
There's no reason to delay. Register here for the Capitol Hill Day of Action!
Please share this message with your Peace Corps friends and other supporters who want to join us on March 1st. Come to lobby for peace and—as many others do—use the rest of your time in our nation's capital to see the sights, connect with friends, or schedule a reunion for your Peace Corps cohort!
Capitol Hill Day of Action kicks off NPCA's annual Shriver Leadership Summit weekend. Interested in attending? Learn more.
Can't join us in Washington? We still need you! Contact us at email@example.com and make plans to organize a Day of Action solidarity event in your hometown on/about March 1st!
Our NPCA advocates have been busy. And we've got the numbers to prove it! see more
The numbers are in.
By now, you probably know that the annual House Peace Corps funding letter secured a record number 175 signatures from a bi-partisan group of representatives.
That was due – in no small part – to a record breaking response from the Peace Corps community during the month of March!
Here’s a look at our advocacy mobilization around the country, by the numbers:
- 76 – During March, at least 76 advocacy mobilization events were held around the country. This is triple the number of events held in March 2016.
- 2/3 - More than two out of three mobilization events were face-to-face district office meetings with lawmakers or their staff. By the end of March, at least 53 district office meetings were held.
- 28 – At least 28 of NPCA’s geographic affiliate groups in 22 states organized one or more advocacy activities during the month of March.
- 12,723 – This is the number of messages sent to members of Congress in March using NPCA’s click-to-send email action. This represents the highest level of activity since we began using this feature 18 months ago.
- 510 – In March, 510 Members of Congress received at least one message from an NPCA supporter concerning the importance of funding for the Peace Corps and/or international affairs funding. Put another way, 97% of the members of Congress received at least one message of support for the Peace Corps in March!
Only the Beginning
As we celebrate the strong efforts of our advocates in March, and await President Trump’s release of his Peace Corps funding request in May, we are only getting started. A new round of district office meetings are underway. We are promoting advocate attendance at congressional town hall meetings, urging letters-to-the-editor to promote support for the Peace Corps, and encouraging thank you messages for signers of the House Peace Corps letter. Visit our recently launched #ProtectPeaceCorps campaign page and sign up to stay connected to all the latest updates and action opportunities.
The NPCA Community in Action
Here are some additional photos highlighting the fantastic advocacy efforts of the Peace Corps community across the country in March. Thank you!
In Tucson, the Desert Doves/RPCVs of Southern Arizona organized a great advocacy prep session featuring RPCV State Representative Phil Lopes, prior to holding district office meetings with staff of Senators McCain and Flake, and Representative McSally.
Five members of the Los Angeles RPCVs—representing five different decades of Peace Corps service—shared experiences with staff of freshman Senator Kamala Harris
In North Carolina, Congressman David Price (second from right), a new member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State/Foreign Operations, held a district office meeting with members of the North Carolina Peace Corps Association.
In the Senate, Marco Rubio (R-FL) is also a new member of the critical Appropriations Subcommittee for State/Foreign Operations. District office staff in his Jacksonville office met with members and friends of the First Coast RPCVs.
Board members of the Buffalo RPCVs showed the NPCA colors during a district office meeting with staff of Representative Chris Collins.
Seventy people attended an international dinner organized by the San Diego RPCVs, and took advantage of NPCA's click-to-send action email webpage (foreground).
During his late-March trip to California, NPCA President attended an advocacy mobilization gathering organized by the
Northern California Peace Corps Association.
Letter writing sessions and district office meetings (like this one with staff of Senator Cory Gardner) were among the March advocacy activities organized by the Colorado RPCVs.
Congressman John Faso became one of the first Republicans to sign the House Peace Corps funding letter, soon after this meeting with constituents and members of the Northeast New York RPCVs at his district office in Kinderhook.
Members of the St. Louis RPCVs organized four district office meetings in March, including this one with staff of Senator Claire McCaskill.
Prior to scheduling district office meetings with Representatives Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema, the RPCVs of Phoenix organized a
"Speaking to Legislators" workshop.
In Spokane, the Inland-Northwest RPCVs held district office meetings in March with staff of Senators Murray and Cantwell, and (above)
Representative McMorris Rodgers.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Wilmington, North Carolina came together for a meeting with district office staff of second term Congressman David Rouzer
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State/Foreign Operations, met with RPCVs at his
district office in Lincoln.
Our February advocate of the month is a newcomer from North Carolina see more
Dozens of NPCA advocacy “veterans” are organizing activities in conjunction with the 13th annual National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps. As exciting as that is, it is equally exciting that many new advocates are similarly stepping forward to help mobilize activities in their local communities. This includes Kathryn “Kate” Gavaghan (Botswana 1986 – 1987) of Wake Forest, North Carolina, our featured advocate for the month of February.
“I think it is more important than ever that RPCVs talk with their representatives,” says Kate. “(Peace Corps) Volunteers’ daily interactions with citizens in developing countries present the best of our culture and values. We are a quiet but powerful antidote to much of the distrust and anxiety people feel in the world today. It’s vitally important that our representatives understand that.”
With this in mind, Kate has scheduled a meeting with the district director of her congressman, Representative George Holding. She says it was easy to schedule a district office meeting. “Representatives and their staff have a well-established process in place for meeting with constituents. They make time for this and value the effort we make to connect with them.”
As with all the 30 district office meetings currently being organized during the Days of Action, NPCA will provide organizers with key background materials and talking points. As she prepares for her March 7th meeting, Kate will be bringing an uplifting message to her member of Congress. “All of us as RPCVs know what a positive impact Peace Corps makes, both at home and abroad. Meeting with my representative is just one way I can keep him aware of Peace Corps issues, it’s ongoing relevance, and its great cost/benefit ratio.”
Growing concern about Peace Corps' funding requires your action. see more
Many in our community are asking about the future of the Peace Corps in the new political landscape. While we remain hopeful that an improved and expanded Peace Corps will be a priority of the new administration and 115th Congress, there are growing indicators of concern.
Among those concerns are indications that our nation’s International Affairs Budget (which includes Peace Corps) will be targeted for significant cuts. That’s why NPCA President & CEO Glenn Blumhorst (pictured here, second from left) and Government Affairs Officer J.M. Ascienzo went to Capitol Hill Wednesday with nearly 90 other leaders in the business and international development community as part of the US Global Leadership Coalition’s advocacy day to make the case for a sustained $60 billion for the International Affairs Budget (otherwise known as the 150 Account).
Another concern? We now enter the beginning of the budget and appropriations season for the first time in two decades without just-retired RPCV Congressman Sam Farr, our lead champion for the Peace Corps on Capitol Hill.
This is why we need a united and energized community to raise our collective voice to support Peace Corps’ $410 million appropriation, ensure the opportunity for all qualified applicants to serve, and continue to advance legislation and other initiatives to improve the Peace Corps.
Uniting and Engaging our Community in March
We have the vehicle to take action, and it is only a few weeks away: NPCA’s 13th annual National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps. Following immediately on the heels of our own Capitol Hill Day on March 2nd, NPCA affiliate groups and advocacy coordinators are also mobilizing activities during the first half of March right in your backyard.
Affiliate groups in Maine and Colorado, from Miami to St. Louis to Spokane, are organizing district office meetings with their lawmakers. The Phoenix RPCVs are planning an advocacy training, while the Minnesota RPCVs are combining advocacy with an evening of storytelling. Atlanta RPCVs are designing their own Day of Action postcards to send to Members of Congress, while the Kentucky RPCVs are incorporating letter writing to their lawmakers into their monthly dinner gathering.
Come together March 3 – 15 to make it unequivocally clear that our nation needs the Peace Corps now as much as any time in its 56-year history.
Our January featured advocates are preparing for the upcoming National Days of Action see more
As we prepare to blanket the nation in early March with district office meetings and other localized advocacy activities during the National Peace Corps Association's National Days of Action, featured advocates Faith and David Van Gilder will be amplifying our advocacy presence - as they have for the past several years - in northeastern Indiana.
"It's crucial that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) make their voice heard at this key time of the year," said Faith, noting that March 1st marks the anniversary of President Kennedy's Executive Order which established the Peace Corps. "Elected officials need to hear from as many RPCVs as possible, especially now during the presidential transition and change of administration."
The Van Gilders take action in a variety of ways, including organizing letter writing gatherings. "Our gatherings in northeast Indiana are typically social, but sending letters to our elected officials gives us a tangible task that we can rally around and discuss," said David, adding that the new NPCA click-and-send software makes it easy and quick to send letters, with as much personalization as an individual chooses to make.
Preparing for March
They are also starting now to organize March district office meetings with their congressional representatives. The Van Gilders note that many members of Congress and their staff have large districts and may only be in a local office on particular days, limiting scheduling opportunities. And, when it comes to district meetings, David says the number of participants doesn't have to be great in number, especially if the group thinks strategically. "Arrange for no more than two or three RPCVs to attend, keeping in mind diversity. Do your research beforehand and learn your legislator's background, such as hometown, alma mater, family and hobbies." As an example, the Van Gilders note their new member of Congress served in the National Guard in Afghanistan. They are hoping to bring an RPCV who served in Afghanistan to their meeting.
While David and Faith experienced some differences between meetings that take place on Capitol Hill compared to back in the district, there are a number of similarities. "In both types of meetings, make sure you ask a staffer to take a photo," said Faith. "Then, share it on social media and tag the legislator. Be sure to dress professionally, arrive on time, share a personal story and emphasize the talking points supplied by the NPCA."
Advocates for the Next Generation
Why are these Indiana advocacy coordinators, these featured advocates, so generous with their time and driven to the cause? Faith and David say it's about giving back. "Serving in the Peace Corps (in Botswana in the mid 1980's) was one of the highlights of our life, and we hope thousands more Americans will be able to serve their country in a peaceful way. Our main goal as advocates is to ensure funding is adequate to keep the Peace Corps strong and relevant for many years to come!"
We're preparing for a new President and Congress. Find out what we're doing. see more
As the National Park Service prepares for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the hallways of Capitol Hill are cluttered with furniture. Congressional offices are re-arranging in anticipation of more than 60 new members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Sadly, the new 115th Congress will only have two Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Among those departing is retiring California Congressman Sam Farr (Colombia 1962-64), known to his colleagues as Mr. Peace Corps.
In this time of change, National Peace Corps Association is preparing for these major transitions to our national leadership with outreach and mobilization that is positive and pro-active. And, more than ever before, we are counting on the individual testimonies and tenacious advocacy of our community to ensure the future of a growing, vibrant and improved Peace Corps.
Here are five key ways we are preparing for 2017:
- Policy Agenda: First, our core Capitol Hill advocacy agenda will continue to make a strong, positive case to ensure the Peace Corps is the best it can be. In fact, as one of our nation’s most cost-effective and valued foreign policy exports, the need for Peace Corps programs during this period of global uncertainty is as great as any time in its history.
- Transition Outreach: NPCA has reached out to the Trump Transition Team to make our case for a Peace Corps program that meets global demand, and looks forward to meeting with representatives of the president-elect (once they are appointed) who will be responsible for Peace Corps. Additionally, we are conferring with community leaders to discuss key Peace Corps messaging and strategies as we chart the path forward.
- Congress: The retirement of RPCV Congressman Sam Farr means the loss of our strongest Peace Corps champion in Congress. Thankfully, many good supporters – both Republicans and Democrats – remain on Capitol Hill. Our advocacy team is currently at work meeting with past supporters and cultivating new friends. As the new 115th Congress undertakes the process of determining members’ committee assignments and leadership roles, we will be monitoring these developments and reaching out to targeted constituents whose mobilization and involvement will be critical to our success.
- Peace Corps Director: It may be several months before President Trump nominates a Peace Corps Director. During this period we will engage the new administration and Congress in sharing our thoughts on key qualities and characteristics necessary to identify a high profile and highly qualified individual to lead the agency.
- Updating and Engaging YOU! Each and every member of our community has a role to play to advance our advocacy agenda. With your support, we will be successful.
Your Support Starts Right Now!
- DONATE: When you donate to our advocacy program, you provide the resources that allow us to organize Capitol Hill Lobby Days, promote targeted state and district office meetings with lawmakers, and create up-to-date resource materials that allow you to be an effective advocate. Please be as generous as you can with an end-of-year donation to help fuel our advocacy program in 2017! Thank you!
- WRITE: Our thanks to many who already have participated in our earlier action alert to the Trump Transition Team to support the Peace Corps. If you have not yet written to the Trump Transition Team, follow this link and add your voice!
- ORGANIZE: Our first big event in 2017 comes in early March - our 13th annual National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps! Our focus this year is to have at least 100 district office meetings and other solidarity events around the country. Contact us today and commit to organizing a March event in your community!