The "Reverse Peace Corps" Approach: Atlas Corps Seeks to Grow

  • Posted on: 23 January 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
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Peace Corps has the goals of exposing Americans to other cultures, exposing people of other cultures to Americans, and offering assistance whenever possible.  But Peace Corps can't be called an exchange.  When was the last time one of our colleagues was able to come to the United States via Peace Corps?  For this reason, I was pleased to learn about a new organization called Atlas Corps which brings nonprofit leaders from the developing world to volunteer for one year in the U.S.  Senator Harris Wofford serves on their Senior Advisory Board and has praised their innovative "reverse Peace Corps" approach towards development.


Looking through their website, I see that there are a number of 2007 fellows from Columbia and India working in a variety of different areas.  Fellows can also be nominated through the website.  They are linked to a number of other innovative organizations as well such as Ashoka, Free the Slaves, Ayuda, Youth Service America, and Youth Venture.  They have a Speakers' Bureau and the founder, Scott Beales, would be willing to come speak to your business or social organization.  I was told that Atlas Corps is in a contest to win $50,000.  The contest is to see what organization can motivate the most people to donate $10 before January 31st at noon.  The winning organization receives $50,000 and will be featured in the New York Times.  That kind of coverage is priceless.  If you would like to support, Atlas Core you can make a donation here.  There are a number of other ways that a person can help out  Volunteers are also needed in Washington DC, Delaware, Columbia, and India.  A person can also be a virtual volunteer assisting with marketing, donor outreach, etc.  Another option would be to create a "friends of" group much as many returned peace corps volunteers have done for their respective countries.  


Atlas Corps is small now, but it has the potential to become much larger and to demonstrate reciprocity in our relationships with other countries.  Most Peace Corps Volunteers (except for the grumpy pessimist that every group seems to have) will admit that they received much more than they had a chance to give back.  Speaking personally, if it were nor for Haiti, I would not have become an infectious disease specialist working for my current organization in a job that I like very much.   Two other members of the Board of Directors likely would not have received the jobs they have now as well without their Peace Corps experiences.  For that reason, we feel compelled to keep giving back to a country that shaped our lives for the better.   If some of my Haitian counterparts could come here to learn, work, and ultimately bring back the skills they acquired here back to their home country, that would be an excellent investment. Peace Corps and Atlas Corps could be complementary and represent what is best about America and Americans.  We wish Atlas Corps the best and encourage you to participate.


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