American Indian Opinion Leaders Meet With Peace Corps Director

August 29, 2002

Diversifying The Agency by Boosting American Indian Participation Discussed

Washington, D.C., August 29, 2002–Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez hosted a meeting today with prominent members of the American Indian community of metropolitan Washington D.C. in order to strengthen the agency’s diversity strategy for the 21st century. The strategy seeks to increase the number of minority applications by 33 percent over the next five years. Central to the discussion was how to better fashion a recruitment program that can significantly boost the number of minority applications for Peace Corps volunteers and staff by 2007.

Currently, less than one percent of the 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers serving worldwide are American Indian, a number the agency plans to increase. The roundtable was an opportunity to present the Peace Corps’ recruitment strategy to American Indian educators, businesspeople, and other community leaders. More importantly, the agency was able to get valuable feedback on the most appropriate methods that should be used to diversify the Peace Corps so that it more accurately reflects the multicultural nature of America.

In an effort announced and supported by President George W. Bush, the Peace Corps aims to double the number of volunteers over the next five years. Today’s roundtable was one of many discussions with minority leaders about strengthening the Peace Corps’ diversity strategy, paramount to a successful Peace Corps expansion.

As the numbers currently reflect, ethnic minorities make up only 15 percent of the overall number of Peace Corps Volunteers. Since 1961, the Peace Corps’ active recruitment of people from different ethnic backgrounds and age groups has played a central role in building the agency’s great legacy of service.

Director Vasquez commented, “We want to provide all Americans the opportunity to serve at the Peace Corps and advance the agency’s mission and goals for the 21st century. The support and counsel of our friends in the American Indian leadership will prove invaluable as we work to increase the number of American Indian volunteers.”

Each year, the Peace Corps sends thousands of trained men and women to live and work in interested countries around the world. The Peace Corps is committed to ensuring that even more people of color can experience the opportunities for professional and personal growth that come with serving as a Volunteer.

More than 165,000 Volunteers have served in 135 countries since the Peace Corps was established in 1961. Today, more than 7,000 Volunteers are helping interested countries address their needs in education, health and HIV/AIDS, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. The Peace Corps also seeks to promote a better understanding of Americans worldwide and foster a greater understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

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