Through the Decades: 1980s

December 29, 1981

Peace Corps becomes an independent federal agency.

January 1983

With the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) the longest-serving Peace Corps Director, Loret Miller Ruppe, establishes the Small Project Assistance (SPA) program. Today, SPA funds aid activities in over 40 Peace Corps posts.

January 1985

Peace Corps Director Loret Miller Ruppe signs a letter of agreement establishing the Coverdell Fellows Program with founder Dr. Beryl Levinger.

September 1985

A first in Peace Corps history, more women enter service than men.


Barbara Jo White (RPCV/Dominican Republic, 1987-1989) creates the first World Map Project. Volunteers continue to use the project as an educational tool worldwide.


Paul D. Coverdell establishes the World Wise Schools program (WWS) to connect American educators in classrooms with Peace Corps Volunteers around the world.