What is a settlement house?
America’s 400 settlement houses — often called a community or neighborhood center — date back to the progressive era of the late 1800s. Located in neglected, stressed, careworn urban neighborhoods, staff work to identify and provide social services and a range of activities designed to reinforce the strengths of individuals and families and their children living in the area.
Operating from an existing house or other building these traditional institutions can provide such social services as daycare, heath care clinics, youth guidance and learning, workforce development, crime intervention, good food, recreation, entertainment, and cultural programs, family and senior programs and other services to the community which help improve the lives of the people.
As the District of Columbia's Comprehensive Plan states, "poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime and other social issues must be addressed because for revitalization to truly succeed, all residents must be given opportunities to advance.”
The Mission of Peace Corps House
1. To help make a DC neighborhood a more livable and better place to grow up.
2. To serve the people in the neighborhood with effective social services.
3. To advocate for social justice.
Therefore, Peace Corps House cannot, as America's famed settlement house founder Jane Addams said, “lose its flexibility, its power of quick adaptation, its readiness to change its methods as its environment may demand. It thus must be hospitable and ready for experiment.”
Peace Corps House, operating as a 501(c)(3) and independent from Peace Corps, will address the needs and aspirations of the local community with a variety of services and programs aimed to improve the lives of community members.
In the beginning
After we have secured sufficient community support and Peace Corps House is invited into a neighborhood, in its start-up Peace Corps House will likely concentrate on programs that empower young people. These could include an Outdoor School, a mentoring program, or one that teaches older kids useful adult skills, or an Adventure Club with field trips into local ethnic communities, meeting local leaders, eating traditional foods — even learning a dance step. And/or creative writing, computer skills, music, arts education and theatrical performances, dance classes and other programs that find sponsors, community support, and RPCV volunteers. These examples illustrate the breadth of possibilities.
It will also serve as a gathering place for RPCVs upon their return from service. In this way Peace Corps House may also identify new volunteers for its social service programs.
Next steps
After some fundraising and a local volunteer talent search to include a director, it's been thought best to start small, perhaps in a church basement or in a single room in a collaborating organization somewhere in Washington, D.C. Perhaps beginning with a single program that, as noted above, "empowers young people."

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Peace Corps House is also an Affiliated Group of the National Peace Corps Association.

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