Dear President Trump,
As leaders of ____ affiliate groups of National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), representing more than _____ individuals from across our nation, we respectfully ask you to support a funding increase for the Peace Corps in your fiscal year 2021 budget submission to Congress.
This past January, the interim report of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service stated “We have learned that national service suffers from...significant barriers to access for many young Americans who might otherwise have a desire to serve.”
The current statistics for the Peace Corps provide evidence of this concern. While approximately 3,700 volunteer positions become available each year, Peace Corps receives roughly five times that number of applicants. This past May, Peace Corps’ announcement of plans to launch a new program in Montenegro is demonstrative of the ongoing demand for more volunteers in countries new to Peace Corps, or of successful partnerships with countries wishing to expand Peace Corps programs.
At work in more than 60 countries around the world, our nation’s Peace Corps Volunteers address critical needs facing the global community, which in turn contributes to our own national security, while also providing a steady flow of highly skilled volunteers dedicated to ongoing service and civic engagement.
Working in hot spots like Central America and Ukraine, these future leaders in all sectors of American society are subtly addressing the context behind our most heated headlines. From the horrendous conditions that push people to leave their homelands in search of a better life, to the health issues that transcend international borders, Peace Corps Volunteers seek out solutions to problems abroad before they become problems at home.
Earlier this year, you launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, through which Peace Corps Volunteers are at work promoting women’s empowerment and economic opportunity. Other initiatives in youth development, education, agriculture and the environment are central to the Peace Corps’ commitment to creating sustainable solutions to pressing global needs.
From Fiscal Year 2016 through Fiscal Year 2019, Peace Corps appropriations have been stagnant at roughly $410 million. When adjusted for inflation, the agency's effective operating budget has been reduced by $20 million. At the same time, we must do more to honor Peace Corps service. The modest costs associated with the passage of the Sam Farr/Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act (which you signed into law last October) must be sustained and carried through. There also is unfinished business to attend to, as many volunteers who come home from their Peace Corps assignments with service related illness or injuries still struggle to secure the health needs and/or adequate disability support they so rightfully deserve.
Mr. President, it has been disappointing that, for the first time in more than forty years, the first three budgets you have submitted to Congress have all proposed cuts in Peace Corps funding. As you conclude your first term, we respectfully ask you to reconsider this position, and offer strong support for the nearly 7,500 individuals who are proudly serving their country as Peace Corps Volunteers.
We thank you for considering this request, and look forward to learning of your Peace Corps budget request to Congress early next year.