In an unplanned campaign speech in 1960, John F. Kennedy challenged a group of college students to devote two years of their lives to helping people in other countries. With those words, the idea of the Peace Corps was born. In March 1961, President Kennedy signed an order establishing the agency, the purpose of which is to supply skilled workers to developing countries and to foster understanding between Americans and the rest of the world. Since its start, the Peace Corps has sent about 210,000 volunteers into nearly 140 countries to (among other things) teach in schools, assist with agricultural and small business development, administer AIDS awareness programs, and establish computer learning centers.
Though the Peace Corps in known for attracting young adults just out of college, anyone can join. The group's volunteers work in education, health and HIV, business development, environmental conservation, agriculture, and other areas in around 70 countries.
In 2012, 43% of its volunteers served in Africa, while 21% served in Latin America; about 15% volunteered in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Almost 90% of its volunteers in 2012 assisted collectively with education, health, community economic development, and environmental matters.
The Peace Corps typically has an annual budget of around $375 million.
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