On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an Executive Order #10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State. Thousands of young Americans answered the call to duty by volunteering. The agency, which was headed by President Kennedy's brother-in-law, R. Sargent Shriver, chose 750 volunteers to serve in 13 nations. The goal was to promote peace and friendship through 1) helping peoples of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women in development efforts; 2) to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and 3) to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Today more than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in over 70 countries. Since 1961, more than 180,000 American have joined the Peace Corps and served in 134 nations.