Peace Corps Collaborates With Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities to Increase Volunteer Opportunities

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 5, 2006 The Peace Corps and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) have made their longtime informal partnership official by signing an agreement that strengthens their cooperative relationship. Specifically, the agreement will help the Peace Corps better reach Hispanic-American students who want to share their skills and experience with the citizens of the world.

Through the collaboration, the Peace Corps will offer HACU and the students of more than 400 U.S. member institutions increased career, educational achievement and training prospects, while participating in related outreach efforts. HACU member campuses, which collectively enroll approximately two-thirds of all Hispanics in higher education, will provide opportunities for Peace Corps representatives to share information with students.

"The Hispanic-American student community offers immense resources and skills to the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. "We appreciate that HACU has expressed such a strong interest in working with the Peace Corps to increase awareness and opportunities for its members, as they help Peace Corps best represent the true diverse face of America."

"HACU is honored to enter into a partnership with a great organization like the Peace Corps. HACU works to enrich the educational lives of Hispanic students and the Peace Corps experience will benefit them educationally and professionally. At the same time, the Peace Corps will help to make the gifts of Hispanic students, the future leaders of our country, available to the world," said Antonio Flores, President and CEO of HACU.

Over the past ten years, HACU and the Peace Corps have worked together in an informal capacity, but this agreement strengthens their level of cooperation and brings benefits to both organizations. Currently there are 223 self-identified Hispanic Peace Corps volunteers, comprising 3 percent of the volunteers currently in service. The new initiative will work toward the common goal of increasing the number of Hispanics who become Peace Corps volunteers.

HACU was established in 1986 with a founding membership of eighteen institutions. Today, HACU represents more than 450 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Iberian peninsula. Although HACU member institutions in the U.S. represent less than 10 percent of all higher education institutions nationwide, together they are home to more than two-thirds of all Hispanic college students.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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