Peace Corps Response Celebrates 20th Anniversary

June 21, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2016 – This week, Peace Corps Response celebrates 20 years of sending experienced professionals to undertake short-term, high-impact service assignments in communities around the world. Since its founding on June 19, 1996, more than 2,900 Americans have served through the Response program in over 80 countries. In 2015, 332 skilled professionals served overseas as Response volunteers—an all-time high for the agency.

“Over the course of 20 years, Peace Corps Response volunteers have brought vital skills and knowledge to communities in need of their support,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “While Response volunteers may only be in-country for short periods of time, their positive impact continues to have lasting effects on the communities they serve.”

Peace Corps Response, formerly known as Crisis Corps, was founded by former Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan to send returned Peace Corps volunteers back to the field for short periods of time to assist communities following conflict and natural disasters. In 2012, Peace Corps expanded the Response program to include qualified Americans with expansive professional experience. The program’s largest volunteer cohorts include the 73 volunteers who served in Thailand and Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami and the 272 volunteers who served in the U.S. following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Following a one- to two-week training orientation, Response volunteers serve in specialized assignments that range from three to 12 months. Peace Corps Response currently offers more than 70 volunteer opportunities for experienced professionals. In addition to disaster risk mitigation, Response volunteers serve in all six of Peace Corps’ project sectors: agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development.

Response volunteers are often the first on the ground when the agency opens a new country program, re-opens a suspended country, or pilots partnerships. Last December, Peace Corps Response and IBM launched an innovative public-private partnership between IBM’s Corporate Service Corps and the Response program that brings high level business practitioners to the field to collaborate with Response volunteers to meet host country partner needs. In 2012, Peace Corps launched the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) with Seed Global Health and The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as a way to send physicians and nurses abroad to train staff and build healthcare capacity. GHSP volunteers work in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Liberia, and Swaziland. Since the program launched, 97 physician and nurse educators have served through GHSP and 61 Volunteers, the largest cohort in GHSP’s history, will depart this July. 

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, 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, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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