A look back while moving forward
Our history is rooted in a shared vision for what is possible by working with, living alongside, and celebrating the diversity of cultures around the world. The Peace Corps continues to build on its audacious mission through our dedication to advancing equity and inclusion, and tackling together our host communities’ priority projects.
Unity in our mission and goals drives the Peace Corps. The transformative impact of the Peace Corps is measured in many ways: a shared cup of tea with a host mother that leads to a greater understanding of Americans; a new school library built; a young boy prepared to serve his own community; a young girl who sees herself as equal to her male classmates; a Volunteer who returns home with intercultural competence, enhanced career skills, and a lifelong passion for service.
The Peace Corps network is diverse, far-reaching and forward-focused; we are the amalgamation of host country nationals, Volunteers and their family and friends, our worldwide staff, university and strategic partners, educators, friend groups and associations, and the many more that come together to support, embrace, and inspire in the name of service.
The founding moment
One of the signature achievements of President John F. Kennedy was creating the Peace Corps, a new agency and a new opportunity for Americans to serve their country and their world.
The creation of the Peace Corps dates back to an unexpected moment and impromptu speech in 1960.
Through the decades
We've compiled a collection of Peace Corps images and milestones from its start in 1961 through the celebration of our 60th anniversary in 2021.
Starting with President Kennedy's appointee, R. Sargent Shriver in 1961, there have been a total of 20 congressionally approved leaders of the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps recognizes exceptional Volunteers, returned Volunteers, and staff.
- John F. Kennedy Service Award: Every five years, this award recognizes individuals for contributions beyond their duties to the agency and the nation.
- Franklin H. Williams Award: This award recognizes returned Peace Corps Volunteers who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and demonstrate a commitment to community service and the Peace Corps' Third Goal of promoting a better understanding of people around the world on the part of Americans.
- Lillian Carter Award: This award recognizes exceptional Peace Corps Volunteers who served at age 50 or over and have continued to advance the Peace Corps' Third Goal.
- Harris Wofford Joint Service Award: A joint award from the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps programs, recognizing individuals who have successfully completed both a full-time service term and its equivalent in AmeriCorps.
The Legacy Project
Peace Corps Volunteers leave a legacy in the lives of the community members they reach, educate, and inspire. Those young people grow up to be extraordinary leaders, including engineers, doctors, and government officials. See some of their stories.
- Berhane Daba: Ethiopian Women With Disabilities National Association Founder, Ethiopia
- Beti Kamya: Federal Alliance Party President, Uganda
- Bart Katureebe: Supreme Court Justice, Uganda
- John Dramani Mahama: President, Ghana
- Festus Mogae: President, Botswana
- Anastasia Msosa: Chief Justice, Malawi
- Wictor Songazaudzu Sajeni: Minister of Education, Malawi