President Bush Announces 2004 Budget; Peace Corps Funding to Increase

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 3, 2003 – Today, President Bush unveiled his budget for fiscal year 2004, which would provide the Peace Corps with $359 million dollars. The increased funding is part of the President’s five-year plan to double the number of volunteers serving in the Peace Corps by 2007.

During his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush called on all Americans to devote 4,000 hours or two years over a lifetime to volunteer service either domestically or abroad. Since that announcement, Peace Corps has seen an increase in applications of approximately 15 percent. Moreover, the demand for Peace Corps volunteers overseas continues to increase.

The Peace Corps provides practical assistance to developing countries by sharing America’s most precious resource, its people. Through the work and contributions of its volunteers over the past 42 years, the Peace Corps has emerged as a model of success for encouraging sustainable development at the grass-roots level. However, the Peace Corps is much more than a development agency. Its larger purpose is to empower people in developing countries to take charge of their own future and strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between Americans and the people of other cultures.

The men and women who serve as Peace Corps volunteers reflect the rich diversity of our country and represent some of the finest characteristics of the American people. Volunteers have a strong work ethic, a generosity of spirit, a commitment to service and an approach to problems that is both optimistic and pragmatic. They speak the local language and adopt the cultures and customs of the people they serve. In the process, volunteers share and represent the culture and values of the American people, earning respect and admiration for our country among people who may never meet another American.

Volunteer safety and security will continue to be the number one priority of the Peace Corps as the agency continues its admirable record of service that is recognized around the world. The Peace Corps devotes significant resources to maximize the safety of volunteers and to ensure they are given the training, support, and information needed for a safe experience.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS awareness and education, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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