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President Bush Announces 2006 Budget; Asks Congress for $345 M for Peace Corps

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2005—Today, President Bush unveiled his fiscal year 2006 budget, in which he asks Congress to provide the Peace Corps with $345 million—a $28 million increase from fiscal year 2005. The Peace Corps’ current operating budget for FY 2005 is $317 million, which is the highest appropriation in the agency’s history.

“We are pleased with the President’s continued commitment to the Peace Corps and the accomplishments we have achieved to date,” stated Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. “Today, 7,733 Americans are serving in 72 countries – the largest number of volunteers to serve overseas since 1974 - in projects related to agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, education, and youth at risk.”

Moreover, the demand for Peace Corps volunteers overseas continues to increase, with more than 20 additional countries requesting Peace Corps programs and assistance. This past year, the Peace Corps opened a new program in Mexico with volunteers concentrating on information technology, small business development, and science and technology. The Peace Corps also returned volunteers to Haiti, sent Crisis Corps volunteers to assist with disaster recovery following Hurricane Ivan in the Caribbean, and plans to send 30 Crisis Corps volunteers to Thailand to support post-tsunami relief efforts. In addition, the Peace Corps is a participant in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and is working in 10 of the 15 focus countries offering HIV/AIDS prevention training and care.

The Peace Corps provides practical assistance to host countries by sharing America’s most precious resource, its people. Through the work and contributions of its volunteers over the past 44 years, the Peace Corps has emerged as a model of success for encouraging sustainable development at the grass-roots level. However, the Peace Corps is much more than a development agency. Its larger purpose is to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between Americans and the people of other cultures.

The men and women who serve as Peace Corps volunteers reflect the rich diversity of our country and represent some of the finest characteristics of the American people. Volunteers have a strong work ethic, a generosity of spirit, a commitment to service and an approach to problems that is both optimistic and pragmatic. They speak the local language and adopt the cultures and customs of the people they serve. In the process, volunteers share and represent the culture and values of the American people, earning respect and admiration for our country among people who may never meet another American.

Volunteer safety and security continues to be the number one priority of the Peace Corps as the agency furthers its admirable record of service that is recognized around the world. The Peace Corps devotes significant resources to maximize the safety of volunteers and to ensure they are given the training, support, and information needed for a safe experience.

Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps. Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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