Franklin H. Williams Awards

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Also see: Past winners

About Franklin H. Williams

Franklin Hall Williams was an American lawyer and civil rights activist who served as special counsel assisting Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In that role he successfully argued against segregation in schools before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1961, Williams joined the Kennedy administration as special assistant to Sargent Shriver at the newly established Peace Corps, and later became Peace Corps’ regional director for Africa. President Lyndon B. Johnson named Williams as U.S. representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in 1962, and, three years later, he appointed Williams as the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. Franklin H. Williams was the first Black person appointed to the UN Council and the first Black person ever to serve as an ambassador to an African country.

His lifelong commitment to combating racial injustice effected great change both here in America and around the world.

About the awards

The Franklin H. Williams Awards were established in 1999 to honor the legacy of Williams’ many contributions to our country by recognizing the continued work of both Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and everyday Americans of diverse backgrounds working to further Peace Corps’ Third Goal: To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

These awards specifically recognize the contributions of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteers (RPCRVs), and one non-RPCV of color whose work exemplifies the advancement world peace and friendship.

Franklin H. Williams Award

This award recognizes RPCVs and/or RPCRVs of color who have demonstrated a continued commitment to the Peace Corps Mission and Third Goal since completing their service.

Franklin H. Williams Emerging Leaders

This award recognizes RPCVs and/or RPCRVs of color who are under the age of 35 (at the time of nomination) and have demonstrated a strong, continued commitment to the Peace Corps Mission and Third Goal since completing their service.

Franklin H. Williams Director’s Award

The Director’s Award is awarded to an exceptional non-RPCV of color who has worked, professionally or personally, in areas that align with the Peace Corps’ mission of world peace and friendship. The awardee must have a proven track record of consistent commitment to and steadfast support of world peace and civic engagement.

Eligibility criteria

Williams Award nominees must:

  • Have served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and/or Peace Corps Response Volunteer;
  • Have closed Peace Corps service in good standing (e.g., not Administratively Separated or terminated early for reasons other than health or safety evacuations);
  • Not currently work for Peace Corps;
  • Self-identify as a person of color;
  • Exemplify an ongoing commitment to community service;
  • Exhibit efforts to generate awareness about the Peace Corps; and
  • Demonstrate dedication to the advancement of Peace Corps' Third Goal.

Williams Emerging Leader Award nominees must:

  • Meet all eligibility requirements listed under “FHW Award nominees;” and
  • Be under the age of 35 as of the date of nomination

Williams Director’s Award nominees must:

  • Have never served as a Peace Corps Volunteer or Peace Corps Response Volunteer;
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to civic engagement;
  • Have steadfastly worked to advance the cause of peace; and
  • Have a professional path that aligns with Peace Corps’ mission and Third Goal

Nomination materials

Nominee resume or CV

  • Required
  • Maximum 3 pages

2 letters of recommendation

  • Required
  • 1 from Peace Corps (current staff, former staff, or fellow RPCV/RPCRV)
  • 1 professional

Letters should be from individuals, other than the nominator, that have an intimate knowledge of the nominee’s contributions. Letters of recommendation should include specific, concrete examples demonstrating how the nominee’s work exemplifies a commitment to community service and the Peace Corps’ Third Goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Letters of recommendation supporting the nominee in their professional capacity should also include any information on how the nominee has continued to create awareness of the Peace Corps’ values and its work.

Individuals providing letters of recommendation should include in their narrative their relationship to the nominee.

Additional supporting documentation

  • Required for Williams Director’s Award nominees
  • Optional for Franklin H. Williams and Emerging Leader nominees

Acceptable supporting materials include links to:

  • Newspaper/periodical articles;
  • Podcast/radio/TV/Other interviews;
  • Published works not already included in nominee’s resume; or
  • Awards/honors not already included in nominee’s resume.

A minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10 supporting items may be included in the nomination form. No additional pages may be attached.

Any materials not already available on the internet can be shared via a Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox link.