Later this month or in early February, President Obama’s budget for FY 2011 will be unveiled on the date of his State of the Union Address. That budget will include the President’s request to Congress for the Peace Corps in 2011.
The five thousand calls in to operators at the White House in December made a deep impact on the President. Bravo. A bonus is that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps and rumor has it that the Obama Administration has heard you loud and clear.
The fiscal year 2011 request could have a strong number for Peace Corps — though no way to know that now.
Our task ahead is very simple.
Once the President’s budget is announced, each of us must make phone calls and send emails (we will provide the sample message) to recruit their Member of Congress to support that budget, if it is sufficiently high.
If it is not high enough, then we will urge Congress to go higher, as we did successfully this past year. If the President requests a high number and we start out high it means less lifting, so you should continue writing President Obama at www.whitehouse.gov and keep calling 202-456-1111 to “include a major increase to Peace Corps in fiscal year 2011 to fulfill your campaign promise of 16,000 volunteers.” This was the step where we did not succeed last year largely due to the economic crisis.
In February/March, there will be Dear Colleague letters circulating for signatures to the State/Foreign Operations subcommittee urging support of the President’s request or a figure higher — One for the House of Representatives and one for the Senate.
We need your Member of Congress to sign the letters once they are public!
With 97 signatures on the House letter, the Peace Corps Dear Colleague letter in 2009 had the most signatures of any letter in the 111th Congress to any Appropriations subcommittee. How many signatures can we stack up this year?
It depends on how many phone calls, emails, and constituent visits we can organize across America, how much pressure we can create, zip code by zip code. If a Member of Congress gets 100 phone calls or emails on one issue, it gets picked up. Given that this budget marks the 50th anniversary, this effort to increase Peace Corps’ budget is at least as important as celebrating and reuniting with our friends.
Peace Corps is still roughly half the size it was in 1966 and the agency remains a relic of its once vibrant self. We can revive not only the funding of Peace Corps but the culture of it too through this campaign. There is outstanding new leadership, $60 million more to shape global infrastructure for innovative growth, and the 50th anniversary which will shine the spotlight on the incredible 50-year Peace Corps legacy. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is the definitive moment to take our advocacy to new heights.
We will blog at PeaceCorpsworldwide.org to communicate with you about districts where we need help. Come February, it could start to get very exciting and we could see a new political strength of the RPCV community emerge. If you can come to Washington in February and visit your Member of Congress, please let me know now and I can help you schedule a meeting and provide information/fact sheets.
We do not yet a have request from the President, nor do we have a Dear Colleague letter circulating from Congress, but we have a lot of important work to do. We should use this time to get the word out and build the email list.
1. Call RPCVs
Make at least 25 phone calls to RPCVs to update them on the historic funding victory for 2010 and get them plugged in to the next phase of the campaign. We will provide the phone numbers/emails, call sheets, necessary facts and timelines, and easy instructions for what to say and how to approach the conversation. If interested in being a caller for the campaign, contact me immediately: Rajeev@pushforpeacecorps.org.
2. Recruit RPCVs to PushforPeaceCorps.org
There are over 200,000 former volunteers and staff, but our list is only 10,000. Over 90% of our base has no idea about this campaign. Send an email to former volunteers and staff asking them to “Sign up for PushforPeaceCorps.org, a focused and proven campaign aimed at helping get Peace Corps major new resources to grow and innovate” and copy me.
3. Tell us who your elected officials are and whether you have a relationship with them
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your Congressman/Congresswoman in the email title and any information about whether you have a relationship with that Member of Congress that may be helpful to the campaign or a high level of access, so that you can be contacted when the Dear Colleague letter is ready. Even if you don’t have a relationship, let me know who your Congressman/Congresswoman is so I can send you information about contacting them at the right time.
Thank you and congratulations again on $60 million. LET’S KEEP GOING….