In the fiscal year ending 9.30.2013, Peace Corps applications were at an all time low, at 10,091. The total of serving Volunteers on September 30, 2013 was 7209. Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet announced an ambitious goal of doubling the number of application for fiscal year 2014, which ended this September 30, 2014. The Director streamlined the application process, and personally toured college campuses touting the value of Peace Corps service, as well as initiating a media campaign promoting Peace Corps. While not quite doubled, the effort has resulted in an recent historic high number of applications at 17,336.
The increase occurred despite the negative publicity associated with the New York Times article describing the medical care received by serving PCV Nick Castle (See: https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/trail-of-medical-missteps-in-a-peace-corps-death-–-nytimes-july-25-2014/) and the ongoing negotiations between the Peace Corps and the Office of the Peace Corps Inspector General over the implementation of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act.
The world situation has dramatically worsened in the last few months and what impact that may have is not known. Potential Volunteers may have decided to postpone their application until the world appeared safer. Or, some may have applied precisely because they felt if ever the world needed to see the positive and peaceful face of America, it was now.Here is the press release from the Peace Corps.
Applications reach 22-year high for the agency
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 8, 2014 – Today the Peace Corps announced that 17,336 Americans applied for two-year service positions in fiscal year 2014 – a 22-year high for the agency and an increase in applications of more than 70 percent over last year. In 1992, the Peace Corps received 17,438 applications, with the next highest number of applications received in 1979 at 18,159. Today’s announcement follows historic changes to Peace Corps’ application and selection process that have made applying to the Peace Corps simpler, faster, and more personalized than ever before.
“This milestone reminds us that Americans today want to serve others and make a difference, and we are making great strides to reduce barriers to service and modernize the Peace Corps,” Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “There is great demand for Peace Corps volunteers around the world, and our reforms have better positioned us to offer assignments where volunteers have the most interest in serving and are able to make the greatest contribution.”
In July 2014 when these changes were launched, the agency saw an increase in applications of more than 400 percent over July 2013 and the highest total number of applications received in one month in more than 15 years. Applicants can now choose their country of service and apply to specific programs through a new, shorter application that can be completed in less than one hour. The recruitment reforms cut red tape, increase transparency and reduce uncertainty to deliver a better experience for Peace Corps applicants so they can choose the path that best fits their personal and professional goals.
Since the reforms were implemented, 54 percent of all applicants have selected the option to serve anywhere they’re needed, and 49 percent have selected the option to serve in any of Peace Corps’ six work sectors.
The agency is revitalizing its recruitment and outreach and modernizing its operations after losing a number of qualified candidates because of a burdensome application process. In 2013, only 23 percent of those who started the application submitted it. Now, approximately 95 percent of those who start the application are submitting it.
Hessler-Radelet, who was sworn in as the agency’s 19th director in June and comes from a four-generation Peace Corps family, has led one of the most extensive reform efforts the agency has ever undertaken. In addition to recruitment reforms, the Peace Corps has dramatically improved the quality of support it provides to volunteers, overhauled its technical training and programming, and strategically targeted its resources and country presence to maximize impact.
Prospective applicants can browse service opportunities by country, work area and departure date at peacecorps.gov/openings/.
The Washington Post had an article on the increase, including comments from readers. Here is the link to that text: