In the ‘reverse Peace Corps,’ future leaders hone skills

By September 22, 2015Feature, Leadership

By Frances Stead Sellers, senior writer, The Washington Post |

After the speeches, the presentation of certificates and the photo op come the slightly sophomoric awards you might expect at an eighth-grade graduation. Graduation day at the Washington International School? A fin d’annee fete for Model U.N. students? Or some hug-the-globe gig for junior diplomats that Secretary of State John F. Kerry dreamed up?

No, this is the 15th graduating class of Atlas Service Corps, a Washington-based nonprofit founded in 2006 with the goal of creating a “global network of changemakers.” At a time when terrorist groups win attention for recruiting disillusioned young Westerners to join them, Atlas Corps is acting as a “reverse Peace Corps,” aiming to identify outstanding young nonprofit leaders around the world, and to bring them to serve and share their overseas experience for a year or so in the United States before they return home to apply their new skills. After a recent endorsement from the State Department, the fellowship has attracted as many as 1,000 applicants a month.

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