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Ann Arbor among top cities producing Peace Corps volunteers

Michigan native and U-M alumna Sydney Demo (second from right) poses with students during the West Java English Competition in Bandung, West Java.
Michigan native and U-M alumna Sydney Demo (second from right) poses with students during the West Java English Competition in Bandung, West Java. (Courtesy: Peace Corps)

ANN ARBOR – The Peace Corps announced Wednesday its rankings for the top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest number of volunteers per capita, and Ann Arbor came in at No. 10.

Currently, 33 volunteers from Ann Arbor are serving worldwide. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, 7,744 Michigan residents have served in the agency.

Ann Arbor has placed in the top 10 for highest-producing metropolitan areas per capita of Peace Corps volunteers since 2017.

University of Michigan alumna Sydney Demo is currently serving in Malawi as an education volunteer.

“With access to social media nowadays, it’s been really easy to show people back home what it’s like in my country of service and community, but it’s harder to show my students my community back home,” Demo said in a statement. “So last year I started pen pals with my English Club, and I connected them with students from my own personal high school in Clare, Michigan.”

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The top volunteer-producing metro areas were determined by the number of volunteers per 100,000 residents.

Here’s the list (and volunteer averages):

  • 1. Charlottesville, Virginia – 16.5
  • 2. Missoula, Montana – 13.7
  • 3. Fort Collins, Colorado – 13.3
  • 4. Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont – 11.8
  • 4. Ithaca, New York – 11.8
  • 5. Bellingham, Washington –10.9
  • 6. Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Virginia – 10.7
  • 7. Bloomington, Indiana – 10.0
  • 8. Columbia, Missouri – 9.8
  • 9. State College, Pennsylvania – 9
  • 9. Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna, California – 9.7
  • 10. Harrisonburg, Virginia – 9.6
  • 10. Ann Arbor, Michigan – 9.6

Most of these cities are also college towns. Many volunteers join after graduating from college or graduate school.

These metropolitan areas were determined based on Peace Corps volunteers’ self-reporting of home city and state on their applications and the most recent U.S. Census Bureau “Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area” data.

This data is current as of Sept. 30, 2019.

The Peace Corps was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to send Americans abroad to engage with and serve communities around the world.

Volunteers can focus on different fields, like health, education, agriculture, environment, community economic development and youth development. Since its founding, more than 240,000 volunteers have served in 142 countries.

For more information, visit peacecorps.gov.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.