Peace Corps Commemorates 35th Anniversary of Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Peace Corps celebrates today the 35th anniversary of the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, as well as the establishment of six new university partnerships. The Peace Corps created the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program in 1985. The first Fellows program was at Teachers College, Columbia University and the Peace Corps now partners with more than 120 institutions of higher education across the country in 37 states. This partnership now includes more than 200 programs at these universities, offering returned Peace Corps Volunteers the opportunity to pursue over 300 graduate and post-graduate degrees.

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program is a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance to returned Peace Corps Volunteers. All Fellows complete internships in underserved communities in the United States, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as Volunteers abroad. These skills in adapting to new cultures, developing and managing projects, dealing with language barriers, and leveraging limited resources attract the attention of prospective schools.

“Thirty-five years and more than 5,000 participants later, Coverdell Fellows programs at schools across the United States continue to provide returned Volunteers affordable access to graduate education, while also creating amazing opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve garnered during service toward improving local communities,” said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. “These are incredibly meaningful avenues for returned Volunteers to continue serving in the spirit of the Peace Corps.”

Since August 2019, the Peace Corps has established new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program partnerships at the following institutions:

1) Boston University – Wheelock College of Education and Human Development

2) Columbia University – School of Nursing

3) Columbia University – School of Social Work

4) Shippensburg University – Department of Social Work and Gerontology, College of Education and Human Services

5) George Washington University --School of Nursing

6) Texas State University – School of Social Work

“I am delighted to see Coverdell Fellows reach its 35th anniversary,” said La’Teashia Sykes, Peace Corps Director of University Programs. “This program encourages an invaluable exchange between returned Peace Corps Volunteers, educational institutions and local communities. We look forward to the next 35 years facilitating affordable graduate education for returned Volunteers, adding a global perspective to classroom discussions, and supporting underserved U.S. communities.”

To see a current list of all Paul D. Coverdell Fellows programs around the country, including degrees and financial assistance offered, as well as university contacts, visit:

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About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, Volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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