The Peace Corps network is partnering with local communities to recover from health and development setbacks caused by COVID-19, adapt and build resilience to climate change, and provide leadership development and other opportunities to the largest generation of youth in history. The people-to-people diplomacy central to our work is helping equip the next generation of American – and global – leaders with the adaptability and skills necessary to shape our shared future.
We are working to accomplish our ambitious mission by advancing our priorities, our FY 2022-2026 Strategic Objectives [PDF]: reimagine service, advance equity, and deliver quality.
- Contributing to COVID-19 response and recovery
- Supporting climate change adaptation
- Building on the Virtual Service Pilot
- Centering host communities and partners
- Intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (ICDEIA)
- Broadening our approach to sexual assault prevention and response
- Proactive quality assurance
- Transparency and accountability
Contributing to COVID-19 response and recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has set back health and development progress around the world. While Volunteers work within our six established sectors (agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development), they also engage with partners to support last-mile response and recovery efforts. This critical work also extends to our local staff support of host country COVID-19 priorities.
- Volunteers in Sierra Leone are working with partners to raise awareness and dispel myths about vaccines and assist with administrative and logistical support for COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.
- Staff in the Philippines worked with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to raise awareness and share health information, resulting in the vaccination of more than 10,000 people.
- Staff in Cambodia and Georgia worked closely with teachers to build digital teaching skills and practice methodologies critical for recovering from educational setbacks caused by COVID-19 disruptions.
Supporting climate change adaptation
Climate change disproportionately impacts many of the countries where the Peace Corps serves. Partnering with local leaders, Volunteers work to support host community efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, mitigate the severity of those impacts, and build resilience against future climate disasters.
- Adjusted all agriculture projects to employ a “climate-smart” approach to improving smallholder farming by promoting practices and technologies that intensify production without negatively impacting the environment.
- Developed a comprehensive strategy to reduce food and nutrition insecurity among individuals, households, and communities due to stressors related to climate change, the war in Ukraine, and COVID-19.
- Identified opportunities to expand programming to leverage Volunteers’ work in all sectors and service models in order to fight the many disparate challenges of climate change, such as poverty, food insecurity, and gender inequity.
Building on the Virtual Service Pilot
In the fall of 2020, the Peace Corps launched a Virtual Service Pilot (VSP) to sustain connections between host country partners and returned Volunteers, advance the agency’s mission during the COVID-19 pandemic, and meet the global demand for Volunteers with particular expertise. VSP assignments maintain the Peace Corps’ people-to-people approach to international development while leveraging technology to extend the opportunity to engage with more people in more communities – at home and abroad.
- Engaged in virtual service in all six program sectors in over 40 countries, with substantial opportunity for expansion in the future.
- Expanded support for the development of local and national volunteer service programs in several countries, like Costa Rica.
- Conducted a variety of programming with more than 400 participants, including co-training youth on COVID-19 mitigation measures and healthy lifestyles, co-facilitating entrepreneurship and business skills training; co-designing training for English clubs; and hosting sessions on forest gardening.
Centering host communities and partners
Host communities and counterparts are vital members of the diverse Peace Corps network, and their partnership and participation is foundational to our mission of world peace and friendship. Peace Corps Volunteers operate with deference and respect as they work alongside counterparts and communities to implement locally prioritized projects.
- Utilized technology to better collaborate with and learn from overseas partners and posts.
- Included host country staff and partners in virtual Volunteer recruitment events, which has allowed applicants to better understand the Peace Corps journey before they begin service.
- Formalized a process to better collect and share the stories of host country staff and partners via the agency blog, flagship social media pages, videos, and press coverage, allowing the agency to more accurately represent its entire network.
Intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (ICDEIA)
The Peace Corps is powered by individuals who openly share their unique identities and backgrounds and who are eager to learn and understand the lived experiences of others. Intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (ICDEIA) are critical to the success of our organization.
- Released a Diversity Task Force Report [PDF], Strategic Objectives [PDF], and the agency’s Equity Action Plan [PDF]. This includes an 18-month study of ICDEIA within the agency, as well as action items the Peace Corps is taking moving forward.
- Prioritized recruiting and retaining a diverse senior staff team by increasing the percentage of senior staff identifying as members of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities from 6 percent in 2020 to 38 percent in 2022.
- Utilized a new and comprehensive approach to recruit and retain Volunteers and staff who reflect the diversity of the U.S. with a particular focus on historically underrepresented communities.
- Provided unconscious bias training for all domestic and overseas staff, and made the training a requirement for all new hires.
- Committed to consistently identifying and removing barriers to enrollment in Peace Corps service or employment where possible. There is no application fee, although costs for required medical examinations during the application process may only be partially covered.
- Expanded responsibilities of the Chief Diversity Officer and added staff to review key business processes, support efforts to increase the diversity of the agency’s workforce and Volunteer corps, and coordinate ICDEIA work globally.
- Formalized relationships with Native American and Alaskan Native communities through the first ever Tribal Nations consultation and Tribal Nations Action Plan.
Broadening our approach to sexual assault prevention and response
Over the past decade, the Peace Corps has intentionally and continuously enhanced our Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program. We are committed to further strengthening our systems, programs, and approach to community-level sexual assault prevention and to improving trauma-informed approaches to supporting survivors.
We are working to further improve safety outcomes for the Peace Corps network and connect our training and support structures to the work Volunteers do within host communities for longer-term impact.
- Released a brief and roadmap [PDF] detailing our commitment to societal-level sexual assault prevention, including short- and long-term priority actions for the agency.
- Improved our case management processes to help identify challenges with every documented sexual assault case and confirm that all appropriate measures are followed, in real time.
- Launched a new security management system to better document, track, and analyze the agency’s response to sexual assaults.
- Made available country-specific aggravated and non-aggravated sexual assault and harassment information for each post.
- Bolstered host family and counterpart orientations, and improved standardized operating procedures for vetting and selecting host families to ensure common standards are consistently documented and enforced.
Returned Volunteers who have been impacted by sexual violence or other crimes while serving in the Peace Corps, can contact the Office of Victim Advocacy (OVA), which is available 24 hours a day and can provide confidential services and referrals, by phone or text at 202-409-2704 and email at [email protected].
Proactive quality assurance
The Peace Corps is committed to building strong systems and structures that will enhance safety and security, improve medical services, ensure compliance, and lead to quality service. Over the last two years, the agency has evaluated and invested in our systems and processes to strengthen our foundation for Volunteers’ return to overseas service.
- Added quality assurance staff positions at all overseas posts, regional offices and at headquarters.
- Undertaken a disciplined, systematic response to recommendations from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). This has led to an 80 percent reduction in the number of open recommendations from September 2020 to June 2022.
- Invested in standardization and technology to modernize and create efficiencies that will improve information sharing among posts, clearly communicate expectations to Volunteers, and more closely coordinate work among agency-wide teams.
Transparency and accountability
Being a part of the Peace Corps is much more than a job. For this reason, the agency is accountable to a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, including host communities, the U.S. Government and domestic partners, host country governments and international partners, returned Volunteers, current Volunteers, applicants, and the American public.
The Peace Corps recognizes that transparency is vital for accountability, and has made significant efforts to increase transparency across the agency.
- Updated and socialized our staff and Volunteer core expectations, which more fully outline our agency values and our deep commitment to centering host communities.
- Published our Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan, which highlight the steps required to achieve agency goals both now and in the future.
- Published our annual Congressional Budget Justification (CBJ) [PDF] report, outlining the agency’s plan on how it will use its financial resources.
Published July 20, 2022