University News

WIU Peace Corps Fellows Program Awarded $160K for 2014-15

June 23, 2014

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MACOMB, IL — The Peace Corps Fellows (PCF) Program in Community Development at Western Illinois University has been awarded close to $160,000 in funding from the Corporation in National and Community Service (CNCS) to support its statewide rural community development program in 2014-15. Announced by the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service in early June, the $159,600 will enable WIU's PCF program to place 17 AmeriCorps members in small communities and local organizations across the state to build capacity, engage local volunteers and lead the implementation of such local projects as downtown revitalization, business retention and expansion, tourism development, health education and outreach and youth leadership development.

In addition, PCF Program Manager Karen Mauldin-Curtis said this year's grant will focus on enhancing disaster preparedness in rural communities in Illinois.

"AmeriCorps members will work with local community leaders to create and/or update disaster-response plans and access relevant training for leaders and volunteers to implement them," she explained. "In anticipation of the new initiative, the Peace Corps Fellows Program is participating in a statewide pilot program designed to train AmeriCorps members and staff to assist with onsite volunteer management in disaster response efforts."

According to Mauldin-Curtis, the program was awarded close to $30,000 more in funds than last year from the CNCS, which will facilitate the service of two additional AmeriCorps members (for a total of 17 members, up from 15 last year).

"The start date for this year's award is August 1 and will end July 31, 2015. We received $29,600 more this year, and our community locations for the fall cohort of full-time AmeriCorps members include placements at the McDonough County Health Department, with the city of Rushville, at St. John's Hospital/Memorial Hospital/Sangamon County Health Department and with the city of Neoga," she noted.

Peace Corps Fellows and part-time AmeriCorps members will also be assigned to the Macomb area with ongoing partners, such as with the Housing Authority of McDonough County and with the Western Illinois Regional Council, among others. In addition, four AmeriCorps members will be recruited, placed and supervised through the PCF program's partnership with Illinois State University's Stevenson Center.

"By the end of the program year, the AmeriCorps members will be responsible for coordinating at least 50 volunteer-driven community projects, assisting with the creation/revision of six community-wide disaster response plans and implementing at least three volunteer management best practices at host sites. As part of their service, the AmeriCorps members will engage a minimum of 500 community volunteers across the state," Mauldin-Curtis said.

Since it was established in 1994 through the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU and grant funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the PCF Program in Community Development (among the first of its kind in the Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellows Program Network) has expanded to serve students' and communities' needs and kept to its core mission of providing service and learning.

After each Peace Corps Fellow completes his or her coursework in one of the graduate programs that partner with the PCF program at Western and then an assistantship, he/she serves in an 11-month internship position in an underserved rural community in Illinois.

For more information, contact Mauldin-Curtis at (309) 298-2706 or at

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