Peace Corps Boasts Highest Number Of Volunteers In 30 Years
As the Peace Corps nears its 45th anniversary, Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced today that the agency has reached a 30-year high in the number of volunteers in the field.
The official count for fiscal year 2005 includes 7,810 volunteers serving in 71 posts across the globe. This is an increase from the total in fiscal year 2004 of 7,733 volunteers and is the highest number of Americans serving in the Peace Corps in three decades.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce our record numbers today. As Americans, we can be very proud of our commitment to helping others when and where they have the greatest need. The number of volunteers in the field today is a reflection of that great American spirit of giving and volunteerism,” said Director Vasquez.
In addition, 131 Crisis Corps volunteers are working domestically on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in the Gulf States through an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The deployment of volunteers within the United States is a historic first for the Peace Corps.
And, extraordinary projects are being conducted in 18 countries through the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The Presidents Emergency Plan provides funds to the Peace Corps that expand and enhance its programs which help address the HIV/AIDS pandemic and has enabled the Peace Corps to place 13 Crisis Corps and 43 Peace Corps volunteers overseas. The total volunteers in the field number 7,997 when Hurricane Katrina volunteers–who have put their lives on hold to help their fellow Americans–and the Presidents Emergency Plan volunteers are included.
The Peace Corps has also seen an increase in minority recruitment, where numbers have reached their highest level since the Peace Corps began tracking ethnicity in 1987. In fiscal year 2005, 1,235 volunteers from minority groups joined the Peace Corps, and they now comprise almost 16 percent of all volunteers. This is up from 1,160 volunteers last year. In an effort to encourage minorities to apply to the Peace Corps, new public service announcements were recently created featuring the voice of Forest Whitaker, and an outdoor media campaign was launched in major cities across the country.
Other firsts this fiscal year included the sending of Crisis Corps volunteers to Sri Lanka and Thailand to assist with rebuilding tsunami devastated areas, and the deployment of Peace Corps volunteers to Mexico.
This year, 96 percent of volunteers have at least a bachelor’s degree, with 13 percent having a master’s degree or higher. Women comprised 58 percent of all volunteers. Seniors aged 50 and over represent 6 percent of volunteers, with the average age of a volunteer being 28 years.
Since 1961, over 182,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.