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The Western Illinois University Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development was recently awarded a $137,300 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for the program's AmeriCorps service component. According to WIU Peace Corps Fellows (PCF) Program Manager Karen Mauldin-Curtis, each Fellow who goes through the program as a student also serves an AmeriCorps member during his/her internship.
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WIU Peace Corps Fellows Program Awarded $137,300 AmeriCorps Grant

September 27, 2016


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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development was recently awarded a $137,300 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for the program's AmeriCorps service component. According to WIU Peace Corps Fellows (PCF) Program Manager Karen Mauldin-Curtis, each Fellow who goes through the program as a student also serves an AmeriCorps member during his/her internship.

"In this way, they are able to apply their international service experiences (from their Peace Corps service) to benefit small, rural communities in Illinois through AmeriCorps service," she explained.

In late July, the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service announced the 32 Illinois grantees, which include WIU's PCF program, as well as WQPT–Quad Cities PBS, a public media service of Western Illinois University-Quad Cities. (WQPT received $200,000 to support 40 AmeriCorps members to tutor and mentor at-risk youth at facilities in the Illinois Quad Cities.)

According to Serve Illinois, grant recipients use the funding for a range of services in the state, 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 was established in 1994 and is managed through the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU.

Students in the program pursue graduate degrees in business administration; economics; educational and interdisciplinary studies, as well as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages); geography (geographic information services and regional planning); health sciences (public health); political science (public policy and international relations); recreation, park and tourism administration; and sociology.

In addition to their graduate coursework, Fellows participate in specialized training in community and economic development while on campus during the first year in the program, and then they each serve an 11-month internship in an underserved rural community in Illinois.

Mauldin-Curtis, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, said more than 145 returned Peace Corps volunteers have come through the WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development, and the program continues to thrive.

"We are pleased to have 12 Peace Corps Fellows in the program for the 2016-2017 academic year. While not all community placements for the new grant have been finalized, the following communities and organizations are, or will be, hosting AmeriCorps members through our program this year: McDonough County Health Department, Western Illinois Regional Council, Housing Authority of McDonough County, the Village of Stockton, the neighborhood of Floreciente in Moline and WIU's Peace Corps Prep Program. While each assignment is unique, each will focus, at least in part, on building local community capacity through volunteer recruitment and management," Mauldin-Curtis noted.

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

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.

"This year we were able to leverage enough federal funds to expand AmeriCorps' reach into new counties throughout the state," said Serve Illinois Executive Director Scott McFarland. "AmeriCorps members work every day to support thousands of Illinoisans in need, including 425,000 disadvantaged youth and 10,000 veterans and military family members. These volunteers are going to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans."

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 at www.wiu.edu/pcf.

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (WIUNews@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations