Become a Partner University
The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program (formerly known as Fellows/USA) is a graduate school program for returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). Through this program, schools across the country offer financial assistance to RPCVs who are required to complete substantive, degree-related internships in underserved American communities. There are no limits on the number or kinds of degrees that can be offered through the Coverdell Fellows Program.
“[Jonathan] has an approach and perspective not commonly found among graduate students…[His] Peace Corps experience instilled in him an insightful awareness of the challenges communities (and cultures) face in their pursuit of economic viability.”
Michael LainoffNorthern Arizona University
Why Partner with the Coverdell Fellows Program?
Recruiting a Unique Brand of Graduate Student
In the Classroom:
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers bring with them a wealth of international experience. They have worked in a variety of fields including agriculture, education, public health, and community development. Peace Corps Fellows are motivated, ready to learn, and eager to expand upon their Peace Corps experiences.
“The RPCVs in our program are mature, confident, highly capable individuals with an unusual capacity for independent work and a core personal commitment to human rights and social justice. They have experience with international service and the critical basics of business projects and issues.”
Carole FerraraMarquette University
On campus, Peace Corps Fellows help create a community for returned Volunteers and those interested in the mission of the Peace Corps, often organizing campuswide volunteer events and promoting international understanding.
“The Peace Corps Fellows at SPEA have been the nexus for coordinating Peace Corps recruitment at Indiana University, Bloomington. The Fellows… support recruitment events such as class talks, information sessions, career fairs, and nomination banquets. The rise in IU-Bloomington's rankings as a producer of PCVs can be attributed to the large number of events… that are staffed by Peace Corps Fellows. Also, Peace Corps Fellows created and continue to lead the IU RPCV Group, which has formed a large network of RPCVs in over 10 professional and graduate programs in Bloomington.”
Jennifer ForneyIndiana University, Bloomington
In the Community:
RPCVs are experienced in adapting to new cultures and environments, developing and managing projects, dealing with culture and language barriers, and capitalizing on limited resources. These skills and experiences are easily transferable to the underserved American communities where Peace Corps Fellows complete their internships.
“ Fellows are a tremendous asset to the northwest Ohio area, where they contribute to local organizations in need of their unique knowledge and skills through their participation in the program’s internship experience. Fellows with both professional and language skills are highly valued by the region’s educational organizations (formal and nonformal) that lack bilingual professionals to assist with students and clientele.”
Margaret Zoller BoothBowling Green State University
Recruiting Through New Channels
Coverdell Fellows Program university partners gain access to future, current, and returned Peace Corps Volunteers through Peace Corps’ regional offices in the United States and more than 70 Peace Corps country posts throughout the world.
Regional office staff, many of whom are RPCVs, work closely with schools to coordinate a variety of activities. Contact your local Peace Corps office for more information.
University partner program details are available to RPCVs in a number of formats, including
Getting a Program Started on Your Campus
New partners are added through a competitive Invitation to Participate (invitation) process. Currently, the Coverdell Fellows Program does not have an open invitation. If you would like to be notified when the next invitation is issued, please send your contact information to the program staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, you can prepare for the proposal-writing process by exploring the following:
Identify Supporters on Campus
The first step is to gauge the level of interest in bringing the skills and experience of RPCVs to campus, and to identify potential supporters of a new program.
Identify a Community Need
Peace Corps Fellows are required to participate in a meaningful internship that relates directly to their program of study. A critical element is identifying an underserved community or organization that would benefit from hosting Fellows.
Identify a Coverdell Fellows Program Coordinator
A Coverdell Fellows Program partnership is usually initiated by a faculty or staff member who is aware of a need in a nearby underserved community, and who is willing to commit to establishing a program to address this need. This individual develops a framework for a Coverdell Fellows Program partnership and submits a proposal to the Peace Corps. Having someone committed to seeing the program through from inception to establishment and maintenance is critical to a program’s long-term success.
The two pillars of the Coverdell Fellows Program are as follows:
- Reduced cost to the Fellow
- An internship related to the degree pursued in an underserved American community
Developing a Proposal
Each new school that would like to enter into a partnership with the Peace Corps through the Coverdell Fellows Program must submit a proposal during an open Invitation to Participate (invitation) cycle. If you would like to be notified when the next invitation is issued, please send your contact information to the program staff at email@example.com.
The previous invitation is available here for informational purposes only. You may find it useful for learning more about the process of joining the Coverdell Fellows Program. However, please be aware that future invitations may have different requirements and/or processes.
Existing partners may have the option of not writing a proposal, depending on the circumstances of their expansion. A program may be expanded without submitting a new proposal as long as all of the following conditions are met:
1) The degree(s) to be added are housed within the same discipline(s) as
the other(s) currently offered;
2) Fellows admitted to the new degree programs will be extended all of the
same programmatic benefits as others currently enrolled; and
3) Fellows admitted to the new degree programs will be subject to all of the
same programmatic requirements as others currently enrolled.
If any of the above conditions are not met, the partner will need to submit a proposal. Please download the current Invitation. If you have additional questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If any of the above conditions are not met, the partner will need to submit a proposal during an open Invitation cycle. If you would like to be notified when the next Invitation is issued, please send your contact information to the program staff at email@example.com.
The last invitation document is available here for informational purposes only. You may find it useful for learning more about the process of expanding your Coverdell Fellows Program. However, please be aware that future Invitations may have different requirements and/or processes.
Implementing Your Program
Once a proposal has been accepted by the Peace Corps, the new partners and the Peace Corps will sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to formalize the relationship between the two organizations. Existing partners and the Peace Corps will sign an addendum to their existing MOA.
After the MOA is signed and the program established, the school may begin to enroll Peace Corps Fellows. The school is responsible for the financial support and maintenance of its program, including placing Fellows in the required internships.
Maintaining Your Program
Partner schools are expected to provide updates on their programs each semester to the Coverdell Fellows Program office at Peace Corps. Updates may include census information, feedback, and other information as requested by the Coverdell Fellows Program staff.
The Coverdell Fellows Program offers technical assistance in the form of webinars, direct marketing to potential Fellows, national marketing of the program, and personal communications with our partner schools. We also stage campus coordinators seminars where representatives from different schools may gather, talk directly with one another, and enjoy workshops and presentations on special topics. Our aim is to foster a community where coordinators and Fellows of participating universities may learn and benefit from one another's experiences.
Last updated May 21 2013
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