President Clinton signs historic Peace Corps budget; Highest number of volunteers serving in 26 years; Volunteer corps more diverse

Washington, D.C., November 8, 2000—President Clinton signed a bill this week that provides $265 million in funding for the Peace Corps, a $21 million increase over last year\'s budget. This funding comes at a time when the Peace Corps has the highest number of volunteers serving around the world in the past 26 years, as well as the most diverse volunteer corps in more than a decade.
"We are very grateful to the President and Congress for supporting the Peace Corps\' budget increase for this fiscal year. With more than 7,300 volunteers and trainees—the highest level since 1974—serving in 76 countries, we are now in a position to better support our core programs in the areas of education, business, health, environment and agriculture," said Peace Corps Director Mark L. Schneider, who was formally confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 27, 2000.
"The budget increase also will help strengthen new initiatives designed to lead the Peace Corps into the 21st century, including an intensified effort to combat HIV/AIDS, expanded access to information technology and new approaches to municipal development, natural disaster mitigation and biodiversity preservation."
The Peace Corps has grown in the last several years in response to increasing requests for volunteers\' assistance around the world and strong support from the Clinton Administration and Congress. At the beginning of the Clinton Administration, there were fewer than 5,000 Peace Corps volunteers. The budget signed by the President will allow the Peace Corps to keep moving toward the bipartisan goal of expanding the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers. In addition, there is a greater diversity of volunteers than at any time in more than a decade.
The Peace Corps budget was approved by the Congress on October 26, 2000, as part of the Foreign Operations bill. Through the budget increase, the Peace Corps will be able to enhance the agency\'s programs in developing countries where volunteers play a key role in helping people overcome local development challenges. In addition, the Peace Corps will establish a new program in Georgia, one of several countries that have longstanding requests for Peace Corps assistance, and return volunteers to Uganda.
Next year, the Peace Corps will officially celebrate its 40th anniversary, commemorating four decades of outstanding service by American citizens in developing countries. Since 1961, when President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order creating the Peace Corps, more than 161,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 134 nations.

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