Peace Corps Launches New Partnership with Knox College

Program aims to increase the pool of qualified candidates for international service

June 20, 2007

Representatives of Knox College and the Peace Corps signed a memorandum of cooperation on Wednesday, June 20, creating a Peace Corps Preparatory Program at Knox to better equip students for international service. Based on the pilot program at Knox, the Peace Corps aims to widen its pool of qualified candidates by developing similar arrangements with other colleges and universities around the country.

According to Peace Corps officials, in 2006, just two of every five applicants were invited to serve. In this highly competitive environment, applicants who are prepared for the demands of Volunteer service have a distinct advantage. With this in mind, and with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of Volunteers in the field, the Peace Corps has reactivated its preparatory program to better equip students for international service. Today's signing of a memorandum of cooperation by Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody K. Olsen and Knox College President Roger L. Taylor is the first step in achieving these goals.

Starting this fall, undergraduates at Knox will be able to incorporate Peace Corps Prep's internationally focused curriculum, foreign language study, and community service into their degree plans. Interested students will apply to Peace Corps Prep as sophomores, then spend their junior and senior years fulfilling the program's requirements.

"The Peace Corps Prep program offers institutions of higher education a unique way to gain a competitive advantage in international education," said Deputy Director Olsen. "I'm pleased that this program is being re-introduced through our partnership with Knox College and that it will give more Americans an opportunity to serve in the Peace Corps."

Although participation in Peace Corps Prep doesn't guarantee that applicants will be accepted as Volunteers, the specialized curriculum and experience should make them strong candidates. Peace Corps expects to widen its pool of qualified candidates by rolling the Knox College pilot program out to other colleges and universities around the country.

"Knox College was founded on the premise of preparing students for a life of service," explains Roger L. Taylor, Knox's President. "Today, many of our students still feel the pull to be leaders and to serve the greater good. This agreement offers an exciting new avenue to prepare students for volunteer service in international development -- especially with the Peace Corps."

Also attending the signing ceremony was 17th District Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL).

"Today's agreement will allow Knox College to further its rich tradition of service to our community and our nation," Hare said. "A partnership with the Peace Corps will allow more Knox graduates to volunteer in developing countries and literally make the world a better place, and will help strengthen Knox's already impressive reputation for outstanding service," Hare added.

Knox College is a national liberal arts college founded in 1837. With 1,351 students from 45 states and 44 countries, Knox College is ranked by Washington Monthly magazine among the top 100 colleges in the nation for its commitment to diversity, to student research, and to service.

Since 1961, more than 187,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

Jody Olsen, Roger Taylor
Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen, Knox College President Roger Taylor