I think we have to view it as a victory, folks. It’s the highest single year dollar-increase in 49 years. In an actual and a symbolic sense, it can transform the Peace Corps.
To help put it in perspective, it’s more than Peace Corps ever got in a single year since its founding, more than we got in the last seven years combined.
Director Williams is doing a magnificent job already, and with this 18% increase, he can do a whole lot especially if they streamline operations.
I feel very proud and pleased with what we did and what I learned personally from all of you. I had no experience in advocacy or lobbying and was thrown into this competitive environment. Yes, we all wish we got the House mark (or $10 or $20 million more), but we didn’t. Failure would be if we just stopped trying.
This is nothing short of historic success. In the challenging world of Washington, we made a veritable impact. Sure we have room for improvement. But who doesn’t right?
Consider that falling short this year also helps catalyze and motivate the movement for the next cycle. We built so much energy for $450 million.
Had we gotten the full House mark, maybe the subcommittee says, that’s it, that’s the cap.
Without the campaign, maybe we would have gotten the same inflationary increase that has been typical of the last several decades, minute increases of $5 or $8 million. I’m speculating obviously but maybe the budget would have been $350 million at best (maybe lower given the economic climate and the low mark from President Obama in a transition year). So consider that the campaign got $50 million extra.
But the victory is in more than just the funding.
Think of all the people on capitol hill who now know about Peace Corps’ funding picture.
We all helped create a grassroots following of over 15,000 former volunteers, generated 150 Champions in Congress and changed what was a marginal issue into a national news story which united thousands of volunteers.
The short-term win was a $60 million increase. The long-term win, if we keep working hard and building from this, could be a series of $50 - $100 million leaps over the next several years. Peace Corps is on a new glide path.
No matter what anyone says, it was a HUGE victory.
As for whose victory this is? It’s obviously a collective win. About 20 people worked on a daily basis on the campaign’s behalf including all of you but thousands wrote letters, made calls, and took other actions through the course of the two years.
Some worked against the campaign too.
But we did incredibly well despite all the challenges we had.
Thank to everyone who helped. We’re out there now with PushforPeaceCorps.org which has generated 3,000 phone calls to President Obama, and gotten memos for bold increases in to his key staff persons. The new campaign is doing well, drafting plans for the next phase, and building on the momentum of what was achieved.
Hope you celebrate this wherever you are.