Lila Holzman posted an articleHundreds of RPCVs discussed the past, present, and future of the Peace Corps - Keep up the support! see more
What is Peace Corps Connect?
At the beginning of August, hundreds of RPCVs came together in Denver for the National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) annual Peace Corps Connect conference. The energy and excitement were tangible. Being around that many people who've shared as meaningful of an experience as Peace Corps is, was incredible. Over the weekend we heard from past and present leaders in the Peace Corps community and discussed a wide range of topics from education to immigration to storytelling to social entrepreneurship. One highlight was a spoken word presentation by Peace Corps staff Meleia Egger, whose inspiring words can be found below in “50 Years of Peace Corps” (video also available). A few photos of the weekend can be found on Facebook.
Advocacy at PCC
Multiple presentations focused or at least touched on the urgency to advocate for the Peace Corps. While we heard from retired Peace Corps directors about challenges faced in the past, we acknowledged that we must not take for granted that the Peace Corps has the resources and independence it needs to support volunteers and their invaluable work.
2018 Peace Corps Budget Update
Have you called our senators yet? The 2018 Fiscal Year budget has left the House showing a $12 million (2.7%) cut to the Peace Corps – the deepest cut in decades! This budget also proposes an overall 32% cut to the International Affairs Budget (this includes important programs like USAID). If you think that it doesn’t make sense to cut critical funding for some of the most cost-effective, sustainable forms of international diplomacy, it's time to get involved!
So why call our Senators? Now that the FY2018 budget has left the House, it is under discussion in the Senate, with final numbers expected to be determined by mid-September! In California, both Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris are supportive of the Peace Corps, but they can always be more supportive, and should know that this matters to their constituents and that we appreciate their efforts. Your NorCalPCA Advocacy Coordinators and other NorCalPCA members have had in-person meetings with staff at both offices, but you are welcome to go chat with them again! Or call, email, or send a postcard. When asked if those efforts actually matter, Sen. Harris’s staff responded with an enthusiastic yes! While Sen. Feinstein has historically shown great support, co-authoring Dear Colleague Letters and beyond, Sen. Harris is new. Exercising our right to tell our representatives about what’s important to us is easy, invigorating, and fast. Give it a try now: Click-to-Call! Need more resources or motivation? Below find #ProtectPeaceCorps and Speed Advocacy slide decks from Peace Corps Connect.
Want to get even more involved or have questions? Email Advocacy@NorCalPCA.org
Urgent: Email Senators to Sign Peace Corps Funding Letter by 06/14! see more
The Peace Corps urgently needs your help!
A document vital to Peace Corps’ future is now circulating in the Senate: The Peace Corps Funding Dear Colleague Letter (co-authored by California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Washington Senator John Isakson). By signing onto this letter, Senators pledge to support robust funding for the Peace Corps for fiscal year 2018.
But the turn-around time is short. Senators have until this Wednesday, June 14 (extended from June 9) to sign the Dear Colleague Letter. That’s our deadline, too!
Please urge your Senator to sign now!
Call California Senator Kamala Harris:
DC - (202) 224-3553; SF - (415) 355 - 9041; Sacramento - (916) 448 - 2787; Fresno - (559) 497 - 5109
With the president’s proposed cuts to the Peace Corps—potentially denying many more Americans and host country communities the opportunity to partner in peace, progress, and understanding—it is up to Congress to restore the agency’s resources.
Two minutes of your time could mean another American has the opportunity to serve our country and fuel the next generation of American leadership.
Questions or comments? Need a phone script? Email Advocacy@NorCalPCA.org
Act now to #ProtectPeaceCorps from the largest budget cut proposed by a president in over 40 years! see more
On May 23rd 2017, the Trump Administration announced its proposal to cut almost $12 million from Peace Corps’ present budget, lowering it to $398 million for fiscal year 2018. This amounts to the largest proposed cut to the Peace Corps by a president in over 40 years.
Considering the challenges we currently face at home and abroad, the proposed cuts represent a serious step in the wrong direction. You can read more about these proposed cuts in NPCA's Press Release.
In light of this news, we must step up our #ProtectPeaceCorps campaign, convincing Congress to maintain level funding at $410 million.
What you can do right now:
Urge Congress to protect level funding for Peace Corps.
Invest in the Peace Corps community's advocacy work to ensure Peace Corps' future.
To do more:
Visit the #ProtectPeaceCorps campaign page
Join NorCalPCA's Advocacy Team! Fill out this short survey if you want to take an active role in NorCalPCA’s advocacy efforts!
With your help, more Americans will experience Peace Corps service the way you did and more communities will benefit from their presence. We are thankful for your continued commitment to Peace Corps ideals.
Questions or comments? Email Advocacy@NorCalPCA.org
Advocacy Updates: Peace Corps Budget, Postcard Writing Party, Thank You Letter, and More! see more
Peace Corps Budget
The latest FY17 budget includes level funding for the Peace Corps through September. All of our cards, calls, and emails likely helped! The next version of the FY18 budget is expected to be released around May 22 (earlier versions showed a ~30% cut for International Affairs).
Reps on Recess
Our house representatives should be home on recess from now until May 15. This is a good time for in-person meetings and also to attend town halls.
Join NPCA’s #ProtectPeaceCorps Postcard Campaign by printing your own or attending one of NorCalPCA’s upcoming Postcard Writing Partiess in San Francisco or the North Bay. Resources are available to print a template, see sample text, and read an instructional toolkit.
Let Girls Learn
Thank You Letter
NorCalPCA received a thank you letter from 18th district congresswoman Anna Eshoo after engaging with her regarding her strong participation in the Dear Colleague Letter. Thank you Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and our many representatives that advocate for and protect the Peace Corps! Thank you to all of the NorCalPCA members that reached out to their local representatives! And finally, a special thank you to NorCalPCA Board Director and Advocacy Coordinator Lila Holzman for leading NorCalPCA's advocacy efforts!
Join NorCalPCA's Advocacy Team
Fill out this short survey if you want to take an active role in NorCalPCA’s advocacy efforts!
Questions or comments? Email Advocacy@NorCalPCA.org
Read about NorCalPCA's participation at the People's Climate Movement - Bay Area Day of Action! see more
On April 29th, a wide variety of over 75 environmental, social, and economic justice groups, including NorCalPCA, along with 2,500 individuals, gathered in Oakland to show their concern for the planet’s changing climate and the issues that come with it.
Various organizations learned about each other’s work and about ways to get involved and take action. The event’s bicycle-powered stage featured a dynamic list of performers and speakers including Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has proven to be a long-standing champion of the Peace Corps and International Affairs. We truly appreciate her support and leadership in efforts like the Peace Corps Stamp Act!
NorCalPCA members Kerry Compton and Nathan Whiteside volunteered their time (and furniture) to help NorCalPCA Board Director and Advocacy Coordinator Lila Holzman host a NorCalPCA table.
Throughout the event, NorCalPCA was able to share our diverse experiences with attendees interested in joining the Peace Corps, to encourage many RPCVs who stopped by to get more involved with our events and programs across Northern California, and also to spread awareness about the current state of the Peace Corps budget as it sits in a precarious position under International Affairs.
Overall, the People’s Climate Movement brought together thousands of people to Lake Merritt in Oakland to discuss and support social progress and to have a good time while we did it. This Bay Area event was organized in coordination with the national People’s Climate Movement, whose DC march on the same day reported over 200,000 participants, and many other sister events across the country.
Click here to see more photos of NorCalPCA's table and the event!
Ella Dowell posted an articleHouse Dear Colleague Letter record-breaking success! Now time to say thank you! see more
Thank you NorCalPCA members!
Advocacy efforts a record-breaking success!
Now time to thank members of congress!
Peace Corps Funding Dear Colleague Letter
Over the last two weeks of March, affiliate groups all over the country supported NPCA’s effort to get as many members of congress as possible to sign onto the House Dear Colleague Letter on Peace Corps funding, put forward by RPCV/Congressmen John Garamendi and Joe Kennedy. The letter has now received a record-breaking 175 signatures! This beat last year’s benchmark by 11– an impressive feat! This Dear Colleague Letter is typically known as one that garners more support and more bipartisan support than most others for different appropriations causes. Thank you to all of you who took the time contact your member of congress or fellow RPCVs regarding this issue!
It is now time to say thank you to all those members of congress who did sign our Dear Colleague Letter or who generally show their support of the Peace Corps and International Affairs. At a time when many of our representatives may be facing tense responses at Town Halls or through other methods, supporting the Peace Corps can provide them an opportunity to shine and embrace some rare political positivity.
If you'd like to join NorCalPCA's Advocacy Group,
Please email Advocacy@NorCalPCA.org if you have any questions.
Update on the Peace Corps in this New Administration and Q&A with NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. see more
NPCA has launched a campaign to #ProtectPeaceCorps.
What can we at NorCalPCA do to help?
On Thursday, March 16, NorCalPCA members gathered to discuss the new challenges the Peace Corps is bracing for within the context of the recently proposed “skinny” budget released by the new administration on the same day.
We’d like to thank NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst for coming out to give us a thoughtful update on the current situation and for answering our many questions. We’d also like to thank Hostelling International San Francisco City Center for graciously hosting this event.
The energetic group of RPCVs learned that while the proposed budget suggests that International Affairs (the category under which the Peace Corps sits) will be cut by 29%, the proportion by which the Peace Corps itself will be cut remains undefined. Also acknowledged was the fact that this proposed budget is unlikely to pass as it is; nevertheless, it can be interpreted as a signal of this administration’s intentions. Many of us who passionately recognize the importance of the Peace Corps’ mission and work are rightfully concerned. International Affairs are already only about 1% of the federal budget, and such drastic cuts are unjustifiable.
Blumhorst recommends three easy action items:
1) Create an account with NorCalPCA and NPCA to stay in the loop! (It's quick, easy, and free!)
2) Step up when actions are requested.
Urgent Action Item for THIS WEEK (the deadline is March 24!)
The NPCA is helping to garner support for a Dear Colleague Letter on Peace Corps funding that was written by Congressmen/RPCVs John Garamendi and Joe Kennedy.
1) Check if your congresswomen or men have signed onto the letter here.
2) If they haven’t signed on yet, write them! Call them! Better yet, go say hello in person! If they have signed, feel free to reach out anyway to say thanks!
3) Find resources to help you make those calls here.
Interested in helping?
Should we have a postcard-writing party this week or a phone bank? Can we get Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor into our local media? Which 3rd party supporters can help amplify our voices? Perhaps a campaign with short video stories, showcasing the value of the PCV experience? Please fill out this short survey ASAP if you can help with any of these ideas or others!
Please email Advocacy@NorCalPCA.org if you have any questions.
Ella Dowell posted an articleIncrease funding for the Peace Corps and improve healthcare for RPCVs with service-related issues! see more
March 1st marked the 55th Anniversary of President Kennedy's executive order establishing the Peace Corps. In conjunction with Peace Corps Week and the National Day of Action, RPCVs around the nation gathered together in coffee shops and Capitol Hill to push Congress for increased funding for the Peace Corps and improved healthcare for RPCVs with service-related issues. NorCal organized too coffee houses (in San Francisco and Palo Alto). Don't worry, it is not too late to take action and tell your elected officials your Peace Corps story too!
This year's coordinated funding request including a call to increase funding to $450 million, still only 0.75% of the International Affairs budget, and .01% of the federal budget. Peace Corps iis at a 40-year high for application with nearly 25,000 Americans applying for both the Peace Corps and Peace Corps Response in FY2015, more than double since FY 2013. But there were only about 3,000 placements available for Volunteers to begin service in FY 2015, so our nation turned away thoughts of educated, diverse Americans from serving.
Additionally, this year's coordinated campaign asked Congress for two urgently needed Peace Corps reforms aimed at improving health care for Peace Corps Volunteers who incur serious illness or injuries. The first is to increase the disability pay for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, which is currently less than $25,000 per individual, an amount far too low for disabled RPCVs to live on for life. The second healthcare related request included changes to how medical care is provided to RPCVs with service-related injuries or illness focused on continuity of care, familiarity and efficiency during a period of significant readjustment as Volunteers return home.
Advocacy can take many shapes from collective emailing over coffee and computers, assisting a fellow Volunteer through hardship or raising awareness about an issue in your country of service. If you are interested in getting involved with advocacy or have an idea for an event don't hesitate to reach out to local RPCVs Tara Trepanier Gill.firstname.lastname@example.org or Tiffani Jarnigan email@example.com who worked to organize this month's advocacy events.