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?
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.
With Your Participation - We can Reach This Goal! see more
UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, President Trump signed into law the $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus package passed in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in the day.
Final approval of the emergency stimulus package means $88 million will be forwarded to Peace Corps to assist with the cost of evacuating 7,300 volunteers from 61 countries and support initial transition assistance.
"This funding reinforces the federal commitment to the Peace Corps, and we are grateful for this action to support the agency and its Volunteers during this difficult time", said National Peace Corps Association president and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. "While this package addresses critical short-term issues, we continue to work with Congress as the evacuated RPCVs will face additional challenges in the coming weeks and months."
NPCA is already in communication with congressional offices to discuss next steps for an anticipated next round of legislation. Congress needs to hear from you. That's why we are asking you to take action now with your members of Congress to press for ongoing support for evacuated Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
During this extraordinary moment, we require a committed response from the Peace Corps community and the broad, deep reservoir of everyday citizens who believe in the mission and goals of Peace Corps service.
That's why we are issuing a challenge to mobilize and send 100,000 messages to Congress
The final approval of this massive stimulus package is good news for Peace Corps. But our work doesn't end there. Numerous offices are indicating that the bill finalized on Friday—the third stimulus bill passed into law—will not be the last.
Conversations are underway to make sure that future legislation addresses some of the longer term needs evacuees will likely face, including some form of joblessness support, extended health care support where needed, adequate mental health support, possible enhancements to Coverdell Fellowship programs for prospective graduate students, and possible domestic deployment opportunities so skilled Returned Peace Corps Volunteers can help fight the pandemic.
Beyond that, an ongoing mobilization is needed to remind our lawmakers and our fellow citizens that Peace Corps remains open and is preparing to re-deploy as soon as possible.
In the days, weeks, and months ahead, take action!
Want to help coordinate advocacy efforts in your community/region? Contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Peace Corps Association Operations posted an articleNew House Legislation for Peace Corps Evacuees: Health Insurance, Helping at Home, Redeploying OverseasHouse legislation includes proposals for RPCV evacuees to continue service. see more
New Peace Corps legislation continues to emerge to help evacuated Volunteers, this time in the House of Representatives. On April 30, Representatives Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Don Young (R-AK) announced the “Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers Act,” which addresses several issues to support present and future needs of evacuated Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. The legislation is also supported by Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).
In a press release issued by Representative Phillips, National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst notes that “At the heart of this legislation are initiatives to engage these volunteers in what they do best — opportunities to continue serving others, both here at home to contain and overcome the pandemic, and overseas as soon as conditions permit Peace Corps to redeploy.”
The Phillips-Young legislation would:
- Extend the opportunity for evacuated RPCVs to continue to purchase health insurance through Peace Corps beyond the current three months.
- Instruct the Corporation for National and Community Service to expedite opportunities through which evacuated RPCVs can be assigned to programs aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic here at home.
- Expedite opportunities for evacuated RPCVs to return to Peace Corps service once it is practicable for the agency to begin redeploying volunteers overseas.
In light of the many lives being lost during the pandemic, the legislation also includes language of the no-cost, bi-partisan “Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act,” legislation that would allow the Peace Corps logo to be included on grave markers or in death notices.
“At the heart of this legislation are initiatives to engage these volunteers in what they do best — opportunities to continue serving others, both here at home to contain and overcome the pandemic, and overseas as soon as conditions permit Peace Corps to redeploy.”
— Glenn Blumhorst, President & CEO, National Peace Corps Association
2020 Progress: Efforts to Help Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers
National Peace Corps Association has been working with Congress on a variety of Peace Corps initiatives. The announcement of the Phillips-Young House legislation is the latest in a long string of positive steps to support Peace Corps and recent evacuees.
- Evacuee Unemployment Compensation Confirmed (April 28): The U.S. Labor Department issued guidelines which confirmed evacuated RPCVs are eligible for unemployment under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act. Read more here.
- National Health Corps Letter (April 21): In a letter to House leadership, Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Bill Foster (D-IL) propose the creation of a National Health Corps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically referencing evacuated RPCVs as a resource. Read more here.
- Markey Legislation (April 13): Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) announced legislation that seeks to mobilize U.S. citizens — especially evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers — to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
- Record Senate Funding Letter (April 10): A record 42 Senators signed the annual Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter. Led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the letter requests robust funding for Peace Corps in Fiscal Year 2021, which begins October 1. Read more here.
- Murphy Legislation (April 3): Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced legislation to address unemployment and health care benefits for Peace Corps evacuees, expand service opportunities, and promote the return of Peace Corps programs overseas. Read more here.
- Bi-Cameral Letters (April 2): Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) led joint Senate/House letters on the need for evacuees to have jobless protections and the need for evacuees to have opportunities to utilize their skills to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
- Peace Corps Stimulus (March 27): Congress passed and President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to respond to the pandemic. Included in that package was $88 million to cover the evacuation of 7,300 volunteers and provide initial readjustment support for the evacuees. Read more here.
- House Peace Corps Funding Letter (March 13): A bi-partisan group of 167 lawmakers signed a House Peace Corps funding letter requesting $450 million for Peace Corps in fiscal year 2021. The letter was issued by leaders of the Peace Corps Caucus RPCVs John Garamendi (D-CA) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and Representative Garrett Graves (R-LA). Read more here.
- Capitol Hill Advocacy Day (March 5): More than 200 members of the Peace Corps community conducted more than 220 meetings on Capitol Hill during NPCA’s 16th annual National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps. We were joined by 35 Peace Corps Volunteers from China, evacuated five weeks earlier, to speak to the importance of their work. See photo album here.
- Former Directors Support Independence (January 7): NPCA issued a letter authored and signed by ten former Peace Corps directors opposing Senate legislation to place Peace Corps under the authority of the State Department. Read more here.
Support our Efforts
Story Updated 01 May 2020 11 a.m.
With global girls education in the news, read about development efforts past, present and future. see more
The Peace Corps has a long and proud history of advancing opportunities for girls and women around the world, especially through education. That has also been an important component of National Peace Corps Association, many of our affiliate groups and other strategic partners.
Earlier this week, news reports cast the ongoing commitment into some doubt, especially in its current form. CNN, citing internal agency communications it obtained, reported that while work on these programs would continue, they would no longer be done under the "Let Girls Learn" (LGL) initiative launched two years ago by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Soon after these reports began circulating, the White House, State Department and USAID (another key partner in the initiative) indicated there would be no changes. "There have been no changes to the #LetGirlsLearn program," read a State Department tweet. "We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world."
Addressing a Critical Need
The need to support girls' and women's education and empowerment has been a global concern for many years. Today, an estimated 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Half of them are adolescents. Countries with more girls in secondary school tend to have lower maternal mortality rates, lower infant mortality rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS and better child nutrition. Too often, a girl who could change her world for the better is locked out of that future by the circumstances of her birth or the customs of her community.
Launched in March 2015, and championed by the First Lady, Let Girls Learn was established with a goal of amplifying existing programs while also investing in new efforts to expand educational opportunities for girls, including in areas of conflict and crisis. In its 2015 - 2016 progress report, the agency noted that "The Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program builds on the Peace Corps' 55 years of experience of working with girls and communities." The report notes that "over 300 Peace Corps staff members, nearly 5,000 Volunteers and over 1,800 counterparts have participated in Peace Corps Let Girls Learn training events."
The Peace Corps Community in Action
The progress report also highlighted the efforts of National Peace Corps Association. "[NPCA] on its own initiative...played a critical role in working with the greater returned Peace Corps Volunteer community, which has actively supported the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Program." A $200,000 partnership pledge with the RPCV-founded non-governmental organization Water Charity was part of the $2.5 million in private funds pledged to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund as of September 30, 2016. The Atlanta Area RPCVs were highlighted in the report as one of many NPCA affiliate groups and individuals that organized or supported Let Girls Learn. Meanwhile, many country-of-service groups have longstanding girls education programs that date years before the launch of LGL.
"The development community has long known that investing in girls and women yields the highest returns," said NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. "Because of this, we are heartened by the administration statements re-emphasizing its commitment to empowering women and girls around the world." At the same time, Blumhorst noted that such a commitment includes the need to fully fund the Peace Corps, providing no less than stable funding of $410 million, when President Trump releases his full budget later this month.
Give to NPCA's Community Fund Girls' Empowerment and Education Campaign and ensure that these projects continue to be funded.