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 Home > News & Policies > February 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 15, 2002

Fact Sheet: The President's Commitment to Strengthening the Peace Corps

Today's Presidential Action

Today, President Bush outlined his initiative to double the size of the Peace Corps over the next five years and expand the number of countries in which Peace Corps volunteers are active.

The President also announced that a special Peace Corps assessment team will travel to Afghanistan to evaluate needs and opportunities for Peace Corps volunteers to assist the Afghan people in rebuilding their nation.

Background on the President's Commitment to Strengthen the Peace Corps

Launched on January 29, 2002 as part of President Bush's State of the Union Address, the USA Freedom Corps is an effort to foster a culture of responsibility, citizenship and service, building on the generous spirit of the American people. That effort begins with President Bush's two-year call to service -- his challenge that every American devote at least 4,000 hours to service to their community, our nation or the world.

The USA Freedom Corps will work to offer expanded service opportunities for Americans at home and abroad through the newly created Citizen Corps, AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps, and the Peace Corps -- and in cooperation with volunteer organizations large and small.

The USA Freedom Corps represents a broad call to action. One way the federal government can help to support action by willing volunteers is strengthening existing federal service opportunities -- including Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is unique among federal service programs because it allows Americans to serve in countries around the world.

Through the USA Freedom Corps effort, President Bush seeks to strengthen the Peace Corps as an organization and offer the talent of Peace Corps volunteers to new countries around the world.

  • Doubling the Size of the Peace Corps: There are currently 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 70 countries around the world. President Bush pledged to double the size of the Peace Corps over the next five years -- bringing the Peace Corps close to its peak enrollment levels of the mid-1960s.

  • Increasing the Number of Countries Where Peace Corps Members Serve: President Bush will work to expand opportunities for American volunteers to serve in countries where the Peace Corps does not currently have a presence and where the needs for Peace Corps assistance may be great. This includes expanding Peace Corps service in Islamic countries.

  • Within the next 6 months, a number of countries -- including East Timor and Peru -- will welcome Peace Corps volunteers. And, over the next two months, Peace Corps volunteers will be returning to the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia.

  • Peace Corps assessment teams will be sent to countries like Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Swaziland and Chad to evaluate opportunities for service.

  • Sending Crisis Corps Members to Assist the Rebuilding of Afghanistan: An assessment team of Peace Corps staff members and experienced Peace Corps volunteers -- part of the Crisis Corps program -- will travel to Afghanistan within weeks to evaluate opportunities for the Peace Corps to assist the Afghan people in rebuilding.

  • Expediting Applications for Peace Corps Volunteers: President Bush also called for streamlining the application process for Peace Corps volunteers, as well as improving the management, information technology and other skills and training to expand opportunities for today's Peace Corps members.

Since President Bush announced his USA Freedom Corps initiative on January 29, more than 2,775 potential Peace Corps volunteers have started applications and almost 7,000 men and women have contacted the Peace Corps to ask about volunteering. The Peace Corps estimates that there has been a 300% increase in volunteer interest.