Congress is Considering Final Action to Appropriate $400M for Peace Corps

More Peace Corps may be in the stars — and the budget.

Yesterday evening, Jonathan Pearson of the National Peace Corps Association’s Advocacy Program announced that According to Congressman Sam Farr, speaking tonight at an event in Washington to celebrate the Peace Corps, negotiations on the State/Foreign Operations Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bill have closed.

Farr says the final bill contains $400 million for Peace Corps — an impressive figure that falls in between what the House ($450M) and the Senate ($373M) recommended for the Peace Corps appropriation.

The Peace Corps Polyglot yesterday sounded optimistic that because of the amount of work that Congress needs to get done by December 18th, the $400 million figure is not likely to be amended.

Peace Corps advocacy groups like the National Peace Corps Association‘s More Peace Corps campaign, and the informal group Push for Peace Corps have been urging Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and other supporters to contact their elected representatives this week to voice their support for expanded Peace Corps funding.

Yesterday the NPCA sent a letter to President Obama asking him to increase his suggested Peace Corps budget for his 2011 budget request. That letter was signed by almost 60 RPCV affiliate groups.

The House Approves $450M for More Peace Corps, but Senate Committee Approves $373.4M

Rep. Nita Lowey, Chair, House Appropriations Cmte

Rep. Nita Lowey, Chair, House Appropriations Cmte

A few weeks ago, the House Appropriations Committee recommended increasing Peace Corps funding to $450 million. Thursday, the House voted to approve funding at that level. The same day, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to match Obama’s more modest $373.4M budget request for the agency.

While the Corporation for National and Community Service — the agency that coordinates and oversees the AmeriCorps family of service programs — had a disappointing day in a House subcommittee yesterday, Peace Corps won a huge increase in funding as its supporters in the House defeated an amendment that would have only moderately increased funding for the agency in the fiscal year 2010.

The increase — if matched in the Senate — would mean Peace Corps could start ramping up Volunteer numbers, as Obama has called for doubling Peace Corps by the agency’s 50th anniversary in 2011.

According to the National Peace Corps Association’s blog the Peace Corps Polyglot: Continue reading

More Peace Corps Rally Saturday, June 13th

More Peace CorpsShow your support for More Peace Corps at a rally in Washington, DC, tomorrow from 2-4 pm at Freedom Plaza.

Hundreds of former Peace Corps volunteers will come together tomorrow to remind President Obama of his campaign pledge to build a Peace Corps of 16,000 volunteers by 2011, the 50th anniversary of the agency.

The rally will culminate with a march to the White House, led by Tim Shriver — CEO of Special Olympics International and son of Peace Corps’s founding director Sargent Shriver.  Leamer, a speaker at the event as well as one of its organizers, insists the event isn’t anti-Obama, but a friendly reminder to honor his own campaign promise.

The event will feature music from an 22-woman Brazilian drumming group Batala, Peruvian flutist Juan Cayrampoma and the American rock-n-roll band Cairo Fred.

In addition to Tim Shriver, event speakers will include:

More Peace Corps Legislation Could Enable More to Serve Abroad

As the Serve America Act becomes law, it offers no support of Peace Corps. Legislation to increase the capacity of Peace Corps was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

A fish farming family

A fish farming family

In mid-February, Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1066, the Peace Corps Expansion Act of 2009. The legislation calls for gradually increased funding for Peace Corps (up to $750 million in 2012), enabling more Volunteers to serve, and increasing the amount of the readjustment allowance Volunteers receive at the end of their service term.

13,011 Americans applied in 2008 to volunteer their service in the Peace Corps, a 16 percent increase over the 11,246 applications received in 2007. While applications to Peace Corps and other service corps are seeing record numbers, Peace Corps has funding for 400 fewer Volunteers this year (compared with 2008), and is reportedly offering one-year deferrals to candidates.

(In 1966, according to the Boston Globe, 15,000 Peace Corps Volunteers served in the field.)

According to the Boston Globe article about Peace Corps from this past weekend, former Peace Corps Country Director Mark Gearan said, “We spend more on the military marching bands. …This is 1 percent of 1 percent [of the federal budget]. There’s Continue reading

Shays for top Peace Corps post?

picture-21Support emerges for outgoing Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) to fill Peace Corps director role under the new administration.

Shays served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji (1968-70) and has been a career-long advocate of citizen service.

The entire Connecticut delegation to Congress is rallying for Shays to get the post, after Rep.-Elect Jim Hines (D) initially spoke out for Shays. From the blog at TheHill.com:

“As I’ve noted many times, Chris Shays is a man of grace and courage who served the Fourth District well for many years,” Himes said. “As a former Peace Corps volunteer and a strong believer in America’s special obligation to work toward peace and freedom, Congressman Shays would do a wonderful job of representing our country to those nations of the world served by the Peace Corps.”

Himes recently defeated Shays in a re-election bid for Shay’s congressional seat.

Recently the National Peace Corps Association — currently waging a campaign for More Peace Corps — sent an open letter to President-Elect Obama asking for a Peace Corps director with direct experience as a Peace Corps staffer or Volunteer. Read more about their recommendations (PDF).

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RPCVs ask Obama for More Peace Corps

Today the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) launches a petition to seek Peace Corps expansion under the new Obama administration.

The independent nonprofit group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers is asking supporters to sign a petition to advocate for the growth and strengthening of Peace Corps.

With the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, the National Peace Corps Association and its MorePeaceCorps campaign has launched an on-line petition urging support for a bigger, better and bolder Peace Corps.  The petition is addressed to President-elect Obama, and will be presented to the Obama transition team.  We also plan to use the petition as a way of showing critical state and congressional district support during meetings in the coming months with Capitol Hill lawmakers. Take action right now, right here.

Read more about Obama’s pre-election stance on service corps programs.

Read more about the MorePeaceCorps campaign. Read Barack Obama’s letter to RPCVs in the fall 2008 issue of World View Magazine.

Barack Obama is arguably one of the most internationalist presidents in U.S. history, his father having come from Kenya; some of his elementary school years spent in Jakarta.

Ten Times the Peace Corps — and More Peace Corps 100 House Parties

Just in time for the Service Nation Summit, the Brookings Institution released a paper Ten Times the Peace Corps: A Smart Investment in Soft Power by National Peace Corps Association President Kevin F. F. Quigley and Brookings Non-Resident Senior Fellow Lex Rieffel. The premise of the paper is that a giant challenge for our next president is to re-establish good foreign relations, and that for the United States to succeed diplomatically we will need to show the friendlier or “softer” side to our power, and that Peace Corps Volunteers have been one of the best people to showcase that side. Hence, sending more Volunteers out into the field will help us meet our diplomatic goals.

Today, Sept 6, Peace Corps house parties are meeting around the world to re-invigorate Peace Corps. (See below.) The text below I copied from More Peace Corps:

100 House Parties on Saturday, September 6th! As of September 5, 2008, we have 118 parties confirmed in 42 states and 17 countries around the world!  What was originally imagined as a domestic affair has exploded into a global movement.  on September 6th, thousands of volunteers all over the world will convene for the Peace Corps.  If you would like to host a small gathering, it’s not too late!  Please help us reach our *new* goal of 125 parties and gatherings.

Through these parties, we hope to raise money, generate letters to lawmakers and get 5,000 sign-ups on http://www.MorePeaceCorps.org by the ServiceNation Conference on September 11th and 12th to show the presidential candidates that we are serious about doubling the Peace Corps.  What happens after we reach 5,000?  We go for 10,000 by October 14th, the historic anniversary of JFK’s speech at the student union of University of Michigan.

Click here to download a copy of our Organizer’s Toolkit with all the information you need to host your own House Party for MorePeaceCorps.

A huge thank you to all of our hosts!

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Have you hosted a More Peace Corps House Party, or attended? We’d love a report!