As the Peace Corps marks its 50th anniversary this year, Vermonters continue to play a leading role, volunteering in large numbers. Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling for robust funding for the Peace Corps to ensure the program thrives in the years ahead. Demand for the Peace Corps far exceeds supply. This past year, 13,500 Americans applied for the Peace Corps, but the agency could only afford to place about 4,500 people. Bernie is working to fend off attacks from House Republicans who want to slash the Peace Corps budget.
"Now more than ever, as the United States and the international community face tenuous economic, environmental, and political times, we must support this low-cost, high-return investment in peace," said the letter Bernie and several other senators signed.
Vermont ranks as the top producer of Peace Corps volunteers, per capita, and greater Burlington generates the second highest proportion of volunteers compared to any other U.S. city. "The Peace Corps is one of our most cost effective agents of diplomacy ... the lasting benefits of which flow back into our schools and communities at home," the senators wrote to the Senate Subcommittee for State and Foreign Operations.
The Peace Corps has deployed nearly a quarter million Americans during the past five decades. Last year, alone, the Peace Corps opened programs in Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia. Sufficient funding would help to open programs in Nepal and Vietnam, among other countries, this year.