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Peace Corps Fellows Program Awarded $130,000 AmeriCorps Grant

July 22, 2013


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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development was recently awarded a $130,000 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for the program's AmeriCorps service component. According to WIU PCF Program Manager Karen Mauldin-Curtis, each Fellow who goes through the program as a student also serves an AmeriCorps volunteer during his/her time in the program.

The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service recently announced the four Illinois grantees, which also included City Year Chicago; PCC Community Wellness Center (Chicago and suburbs); and Public Allies Chicago. The four Illinois grantees competed on a national stage with hundreds of programs submitted by other state commissions, and they will join an additional 25 formula-funded programs that will be announced at a later date. According to Serve Illinois, grant recipients use the funding for a range of services, including tutoring and mentoring at-risk youth, supporting rural community and economic development and improving the health of underserved communities.

Western's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development has been in place since 1994 and is managed through the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU. Students in the program pursue graduate degrees in business administration; political science; economics; geography; health sciences; recreation, park and tourism administration; sociology; educational and interdisciplinary studies, as well as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification.

After each Peace Corps Fellow completes his or her coursework and assistantship, he/she then serves in an 11-month internship position in an underserved rural community in Illinois. Mauldin-Curtis, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, said more than 100 returned Peace Corps volunteers have come through the WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development, and the program continues to thrive.

"We will be welcoming six new Peace Corps Fellows to campus for the 2013-14 academic year," she said.

She also noted that Western's program is one of the few schools in the Coverdell Fellows network that ties the community-based internship to national service through the AmeriCorps program.

"We were an AmeriCorps 'national-direct' program from 1997-2003, then became an AmeriCorps 'state' program in 2003. We remain a state program through funding from the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. This is a unique opportunity to bring international service experience back 'home,'" Mauldin-Curtis said.

According to the Serve Illinois Commission (part of the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Office of the Governor, which administer the AmeriCorps programs in Illinois), CNCS is the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. The goal of the grant is to develop and expand volunteer organizations across the country.

"Our AmeriCorps volunteers serve on the front lines, directly addressing the most pressing problems that communities face," said Serve Illinois Executive Director Brandon Bodor. "These members represent the backbone of our volunteer infrastructure in the state. Since 1994, more than 30,000 Illinois AmeriCorps members have served over 37 million hours."

For more information about WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program, contact Mauldin-Curtis at (309) 298-2706 or at K-Mauldin-Curtis@wiu.edu. Learn more about the program on the Peace Corps Fellows' website at www.peacecorpsfellows-wiu.org.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov.

For more information about Serve Illinois, visit www.Serve.Illinois.gov.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations