Black Colleges Absent From the List of Colleges and Universities That Send the Most Graduates to the Peace Corps

Since its creation in 1961 hundreds of thousands of young Americans have worked as Peace Corps volunteers in foreign countries helping people in developing nations with agriculture, healthcare, and education. Currently, there are 7,671 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 76 host countries around the world. Most, but not all, are college graduates.

But new statistics from the Peace Corps show that graduates of black colleges and universities are unlikely to enlist. There are no black colleges or universities among the 75 schools in three size categories that send the most graduates to the Peace Corps.

The University of Washington has 101 graduates who are currently in the Peace Corps. The University of Colorado, Berkeley, and Michigan State University each have more than 80 graduates who are Peace Corps volunteers.

Among smaller schools with undergraduate enrollments of between 5,000 and 15,000 students, the leaders in Peace Corps volunteers are George Washington University, American University, and Cornell University.

At schools with fewer than 5,000 undergraduates, a group that includes many black colleges and universities, the leader is St. Olaf College with 26 volunteers. The University of Mary Washington, Middlebury College, the University of Portland, the University of Puget Sound, and Williams College each have at least 20 graduates currently serving in the Peace Corps.

Why is there such a low level of Peace Corps participation by graduates of black colleges? Perhaps graduates of black colleges are anxious to enter the workforce to pay off student loans or to support their families. Or, graduates of HBCUs may be more likely to volunteer in domestic organizations that assist people living in the inner city or in low-income rural areas of the South.