Peace Corps, VSO Sign Agreement to Promote Volunteer Service

Organizations commemorate International Volunteer Day and the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 5, 2011 The Peace Corps and VSO signed a partnership agreement at the United Nations headquarters in New York that will allow the organizations to share best practices and work more effectively in countries where volunteers serve. The event was organized by UN Volunteers as part of the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers and International Volunteer Day (Dec. 5).

Magnifying glass icon VSO Chief Executive Marg Mayne and Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams sign the agreement. Standing behind them from Left to Right: Sir Mark Lyall Grant, permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, and Joseph M. Torsella, U.S. representative to the United Nations for Management and Reform, and staff.This innovative partnership will enhance the effectiveness and impact of both Peace Corps and VSO, said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. We will share best practices in programming and training, strengthening our united efforts to combat global poverty. We are proud to mark the tenth anniversary of International Year of Volunteers by recognizing the contributions our volunteers are making around the world with local communities.

VSO and Peace Corps both share a belief that volunteering can have a real and lasting impact on poverty, said VSO Chief Executive Marg Mayne. Were quite different organizations in terms of our history, governance and the volunteers we work with, and this means each agency can complement the work of the other rather than overlap. This agreement builds on existing work to share skills, training and materials so we can be more effective in the benefit that we bring.

The partnership was first announced during President Barack Obamas state visit to the United Kingdom in May 2011. The agreement will draw on the shared resources of both organizations, helping to ensure VSO and Peace Corps volunteers can continue fighting poverty and creating sustainable solutions to many of the challenges faced by local communities around the world.

Peace Corps and VSO have worked together informally for more than a decade. In Tanzania, for example, VSO and Peace Corps collaborate closely to improve the English capability of Tanzanian teachers, and share materials, skills and accommodation to improve in-country training for volunteers. Building on this foundation, Peace Corps and VSO will explore how they can collaborate further on volunteer programs, such as education, health and HIV/AIDS projects across the developing world, and on supporting local citizens to shape their future and the future of their countries. The partnership will also see knowledge sharing on training and other support functions.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 9,095 volunteers are working with local communities in 75 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit for more information.

About VSO: VSO is different from most organisations that fight poverty. Instead of sending money or food, we bring people together to share skills and knowledge. In doing so, we create lasting change. VSO volunteers work in whatever fields are necessary to address the forces that keep people in poverty from education and health through helping people learn the skills they need to make a living. In doing so they invest in local people, so the impact they have endures long after their placement ends. Visit for more information.

About the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers: Volunteering empowers change from the grassroots up, especially when enabled by strong partnerships at every level. It is 10 years since the International Year of Volunteers, and the United Nations called for this anniversary to be marked across the planet, with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme as focal point. The partners aims are to promote and recognize volunteerings positive impact on peace and development, to reinforce volunteering networks, and to help all people make a difference through volunteering. /

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