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July 15, 2014

Peace Corps to Overhaul Recruitment as Applications Plunge

With applications to the Peace Corps in rapid decline, the federal program that sends volunteers abroad to do good works will announce several changes Tuesday aimed at boosting interest among young people and speeding a slow, cumbersome approval process, The Washington Post reports.

The reforms include allowing aspiring volunteers to choose the country where they want to serve and specify areas of interest, such as education or health care. The agency will also streamline the application process, which now can last more than a year, and take steps to boost minority recruiting. Whites make up 76 percent of the 7,200 volunteers now in the field.

Completed Peace Corps applications totaled 10,118 in fiscal year 2013, a 34-percent drop from four years earlier. In the past nine months, more than 30,000 would-be volunteers dropped out of the process before it was finished, according to the agency.

"We want to make it simpler, faster and more personal than ever before," said Carrie Hessler-Radelet, director of the service corps launched in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. "We don’t want to make our application a barrier to entry."