Early '60s Analysis of Youth Service
- On February 27, 1961, the Colorado State University Research Foundation issued a preliminary report entitled A Youth Corps For Service Abroad, which gave strong affirmation to the advisability and practicability of a Peace Corps.
A month earlier, in his first State of the Union message, President Kennedy reiterated his belief in a Peace Corps: An even more valuable national asset is our reservoir of dedicated men and women not only on our college campuses but in every age group who have indicated their desire to contribute their skills, their efforts, and a part of their lives to the fight for world order. We can mobilize this talent through the formation of a National Peace Corps, enlisting the services of all those with the desire and capacity to help foreign lands meet their urgent needs for trained personnel.
To carry forward this commitment, President Kennedy asked Harris Wofford, Jr. a Special Assistant to the Chief Executive, and R. Sargent Shriver, Jr. (now Director of the Peace Corps) to undertake a survey of the feasibility of an early start for Peace Corps operations. This survey, conducted by a small temporary staff drawn from both inside and outside the government, led to a favorable report to the President by Mr. Shriver and to an Executive order creating the Peace Corps as a temporary agency in the Department of State. Supplementing his Executive Order of March 1, President Kennedy sent a message to Congress, requesting the enactment of permanent legislation.
On September 22, 1961, Congress established the Peace Corps as a permanent, semi-autonomous agency within the State Department. For operations during fiscal year 1962, Congress approved an appropriate of $30 million and authorized a ceiling of $40 million.
As of early October, 1961, approximately 400 Peace Corpsmen were already in the field and several hundred more were in training. Of those in the fields, 60 were in Colombia, 40 in Chile, 50 in Ghana, 38 in Nigeria, 33 in Tanganyika, 16 in the West Indies, 128 in the Philippines, and 30 in Pakistan. About 2,700 volunteers are expected to be in the Corps by June, 1962.
The rapid development of the Peace Corps from a little known idea scarcely a year ago to a vigorous operational program today is the most dramatic testimonial to the unusual appeal of the underlying concept. The favorable reaction of Congress and the enthusiastic backing of the President, in fact, accurately reflect an unusually high measure of public support. As early as January the Gallup Poll reported that 71% of the American people favored the idea and that only 18% opposed it.
But the very speed by which the idea has been translated into reality has raised with special urgency persistent questions relating to objectives and methods. It was to answer precisely these questions that the intensive and extensive investigations were undertaken by the Colorado State University Research Foundation and that this study was prepared.