A Capsule History of the Peace Corps
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A Capsule History of the Peace Corps
A Capsule History of the Peace Corps
A Capsule History of the Peace Corps
October 14, 1960
Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy addresses the students at the University of Michigan in a 2 a.m. impromptu speech challenging them to give two years of their lives to help people in countries of the developing world. Inspired by the speech, students form "Americans Committed to World Responsibility" and organize a petition drive asking for the establishment of such a program; within weeks, more than 1,000 Michigan students have signed it.
January 20, 1961
President Kennedy includes what becomes basic Peace Corps philosophy in his inaugural address: "To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves..."
March 1, 1961
President Kennedy issues Executive Order creating the Peace Corps. Three days later, Sargent Shriver is appointed its first director. September 22, 1961 Congress approves legislation formally authorizing the Peace Corps, giving it the mandate to "promote world peace and friendship" through the following objectives: (1) To help the people of interested countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower; (2) To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and (3) To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
By the end of the year, Peace Corps programs start up in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, St. Lucia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Thailand. Total number of volunteers reaches 750.
Programs begin in Afghanistan, Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Iran, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Liberia, Nepal, Niger, Peru, Somali Republic, Sri Lanka, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey and Venezuela. As of June 30, 1962, 2,816 volunteers are in the field.
Programs begin in Costa Rica, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Indonesia, Malawi, Morocco, Panama, Senegal, and Uruguay. As of June 30, 1963 there are 6,646 volunteers in the field.
Peace Corps Partnership Program is started to provide a link between U.S. contributors and requests for project assistance from the overseas communities in which Peace Corps volunteers serve.
More than 15,000 volunteers are serving in the field, the largest number in Peace Corps history.
The first Peace Corps volunteers are elected to U.S. Congress. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts -- a volunteer in Ethiopia from 1964 to 1964 -- and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut -- a volunteer from the Dominican Republic from 1966 to 1968. Tsongas is elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, Dodd in 1980.
Peace Corps programs are operating in 69 countries, the largest number to date.
March 1, 1981
President Reagan offers congratulations to the Peace Corps on 20th anniversary of Kennedy's executive order.
June 2, 1981
20th anniversary of returned volunteers held in Washington, D.C. Peace Corps has had programs in 88 countries; 97,201 Americans have become Peace Corps volunteers and/or trainees.
January 30, 1985
The first Peace Corps Fellows Program is established at Teachers College / Columbia University to recruit, prepare and place RPCVs as teachers in the New York City public schools. In exchange for a two year work commitment, the RPCVs are offered scholarships for graduate study.
September 19-20, 1986
Nearly 5,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers gather at the Washington Mall to celebrate Peace Corps' 25th anniversary.
November 20, 1988
The John F. Kennedy library hosts a special Peace Corps remembrance of President Kennedy, 25 years after his death. At the event, Peace Corps archives, including voluminous volunteer journals and other artifacts, are formally donated to the Library.
January 20, 1989
Carrying the flags of more than 60 nations where Peace Corps volunteers serve, a group of former volunteers and staff march for the first time in a presidential inaugural parade.
President Bush announces from Budapest that Peace Corps volunteers will go to Hungary, establishing the first Peace Corps program in an Eastern European country.
September 28, 1989
Director Paul Coverdell announces Peace Corps' "World Wise Schools" initiative. This program matches Peace Corps volunteers overseas with elementary and junior high classes in the U.S. in an effort to promote international awareness and cross-cultural understanding. By the late fall of 1989 more than 550 schools are participating in this unique educational program.
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June 15, 1990
In a Rose Garden ceremony, President Bush praises "the group of talented Americans who are...to take leave of these shores -- and become the first Peace Corps volunteers to serve in Eastern Europe." The 121 volunteers meet with the President during their stop over in Washington, D.C. en route to Poland and Hungary.
March 1, 1991
Peace Corps celebrates its 30th anniversary. More than 125,000 Americans have served in more than 100 countries. July 22, 1992 The first group of Peace Corps volunteers leaves for the former Soviet Union. These volunteers will work in small business enterprise projects in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.
June 12, 1993
The first group of English teachers leaves for China. April 1994 The Peace Corps Partnership program celebrates its 30th anniversary. Over the course of its 30 years, Peace Corps Partnership Program has supported nearly 3,500 projects in more than 80 developing countries.
December 4, 1995
Director Mark Gearan sends Peace Corps volunteers to the island of Antigua to help rebuild homes damages or destroyed by Hurricane Luis. This pilot effort marks the first assignment of the "Crisis Corps," a new program within the agency that enables experienced Peace Corps volunteers to respond to humanitarian crises and natural disasters.
March 1, 1996
Peace Corps celebrates its 35th anniversary in Washington, D.C., where more than 1,500 returned Peace Corps volunteers attend a series of events to honor their service. Nearly 7,000 volunteers are currently serving in 94 developing countries.
May 1, 1996
Peace Corps concludes a two-day conference on international volunteerism in Washington, D.C., where representatives from 36 volunteer organizations representing 26 countries plan joint ventures and discuss the future of volunteerism.
June 19, 1996
President Clinton honors the Peace Corps at a Rose Garden ceremony reuniting the first group of volunteers who left for Ghana 35 years earlier, and a new group just about to leave for Ghana.
December 16, 1996
The first-ever comprehensive survey of returned Peace Corps volunteers is released, showing that 94 percent of those who responded would make the same decision to join the Peace Corps. Seventy-eight percent of returned volunteers are involved in community service once they return home, resulting in a significant "domestic dividend."
February 13, 1997
In one of the U.S.'s most tangible gestures of partnership with South Africa, 31 Peace Corps volunteers depart to work with South African teachers, after a rousing farewell at Howard University featuring the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
April 30, 1997
The first group of volunteers depart for Jordan to work on small business development and eco-tourism, primarily with women. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in hosting the send-off, also announced the creation of the Loret Miller Ruppe Fund for the Advancement of Women, named for the longest serving Peace Corps director and a champion of women in development. Twenty-two of the 29 Jordan volunteers are women.
March 3, 1998
The first annual Peace Corps Day is recognized to commemorate the agency's 37th nniversary and to highlight the "domestic dividend" of returned Peace Corps volunteers, particularly in schools. More than 5,000 returned volunteers give presentations in classrooms in all 50 states.
September 15, 1998
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan help the Peace Corps lay a new foundation for the 21st century by dedicating the new Peace Corps building in the nation's capital and launching the agency's new campaign to recruit volunteers who will be serving overseas in the new millennium.
May 24, 1999
Paving the way for expanding the number of Peace Corps volunteers to 10,000 serving overseas by the year 2003, President Clinton signs legislation authorizing a 50 percent increase in the Peace Corps budget. The initiative, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Coverdell and Dodd, increases the Peace Corps budget from $241 million to $365 million by 2003.
June 27, 2000
Director Mark Schneider announces that, for the first time ever, all 2,400 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 25 countries in Africa will be trained as educators of HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Schneider also announces a $500,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to prepare better educational materials, conduct extensive training, and promote broad-based community outreach efforts. In addition, 200 volunteers will be deployed to work on HIV/AIDS assignments through the Crisis Corps.
October 6, 2000
The Peace Corps kicks off 40th anniversary events at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Director Schneider and Michigan-area RPCVs visit the university to commemorate President Kennedy's historic speech on the steps of the student union during a late-night campaign stop in 1960.
October 18, 2000
The Peace Corps teams up with AOL Time Warner and the Hewlett- Packard Company to bring the benefits of the Internet and information technology to more communities in the developing world. The companies commit to providing 120 volunteers in 15 countries around the world with packages of information technology resources. These innovative packages, called "Peace Packs," include a variety of tools, such as computers, modems, printers, digital cameras, and access to Internet service.
November 6, 2000
The Peace Corps receives its largest budget in history when President Clinton signs the foreign assistance funding bill. The new $265 million budget is an increase of $21 million over the previous year, and reflects strong bipartisan support in Congress for the Peace Corps.
September 30, 2000
The volunteer corps reaches the highest level in 26 years. With more than 7,300 volunteers and trainees serving in 76 countries around the world, the Peace Corps gets closer to its goal of fielding 10,000 volunteers. This historic level comes at a time when the Peace Corps also has the most diverse body of volunteers in recent memory.
The Peace Corps plans to re-open the program in Uganda, where 20 volunteers will work in education and community mobilization. The agency also plans to establish a new program in the Republic of Georgia, where the first 25 volunteers will teach English. The new program in Georgia marks yet another step by the Peace Corps to expand opportunities for Volunteers to serve in countries of the former Soviet Union.
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