President Bush Announces 2005 Budget

February 2, 2004

Asks Congress for $401 M for Peace Corps

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 2, 2004—Today, President Bush unveiled his fiscal year 2005 budget, in which he asks Congress to provide the Peace Corps with $401 million – the largest budget request ever made for the agency. Currently, the Peace Corps’ operating FY 2004 budget is $323 million, which includes a direct appropriation of $308 million and a transfer of $15 million for work on HIV/AIDS projects through the Global HIV/AIDS Initiative.

Today, 7,533 Americans are serving in the Peace Corps – the largest number of volunteers to serve overseas since 1974. Volunteers serve in 71 countries in projects related to agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and education.

Moreover, the demand for Peace Corps volunteers overseas continues to increase, with more than 20 additional countries requesting Peace Corps programs and assistance. This past year, the Peace Corps began new programs by sending volunteers to Fiji, Albania, Chad, and Azerbaijan. The Peace Corps also plans on returning volunteers to China and Jordan in 2004. In addition, the Peace Corps is working on a new partnership with Mexico and this year will send its first group of volunteers to the country to work in the areas of information technology, small business development, and science and technology.

The Peace Corps provides practical assistance to host 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 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 furthers 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 170,000 volunteers have served in the 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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