- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The director of the Peace Corps joined Sen. Patrick Leahy at the University of Vermont to announce the record number of colleges that joined the Peace Corps Prep program in the past year.

Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said Tuesday that 26 colleges - including the University of Vermont - joined the program that offers students a combination of undergraduate coursework and community service.

The program prepares students for work in international development.

Vermont’s St. Michael’s College - Leahy’s alma mater - participates in the program and made this year’s Peace Corps list of top volunteer-producing universities.

Vermont is currently the top Peace Corps volunteer-producing state per capita in the country.

Hessler-Radelet said the Peace Corps Prep program is an example of the agency’s growing efforts to strengthen collaborations with schools nationwide.

Leahy, the Ranking Member of the Senate’s State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, said: “I am always proud to mention that Vermont consistently has one of the highest per capita rates of participation in the Peace Corps in the country.”

“Peace Corps service has improved the lives of countless people in scores of far-off societies, while also enriching the lives of our volunteers and of our state,” Leahy said.

The new college partners bring the total number of colleges that participate in the Peace Corps Prep program to 39 nationwide.

Each school designs its own program that typically consists of two years of coursework focusing on international development, foreign language and internships.

Students who complete the program receive a certificate from the Peace Corps and a competitive edge when applying for Peace Corps service.

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