WHO WE ARE
USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance.
On behalf of the American people, we promote and demonstrate democratic values abroad, and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. In support of America's foreign policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development leads the U.S. Government's international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance.
Our objective is to support partners to become self-reliant and capable of leading their own development journeys. We make progress toward this by reducing the reach of conflict, preventing the spread of pandemic disease, and counteracting the drivers of violence, instability, transnational crime and other security threats. We promote American prosperity through investments that expand markets for U.S. exports; create a level playing field for U.S. businesses; and support more stable, resilient, and democratic societies. We stand with people when disaster strikes or crisis emerges as the world leader in humanitarian assistance.
OUR CORE VALUES
PASSION FOR MISSION
We come to work to foster sustainable development and advance human dignity globally.
- We each contribute uniquely in advancing our mission, whether by working in different sectors or by supporting global operations and management.
We strive for efficiency, effectiveness, and meaningful results across our work.
- We aspire to lead international and US Government efforts to advance the economic, political, social, and environmental well-being of the world’s most vulnerable people.
- We continually seek to improve our operations and increase our impact.
- We take pride in our work and our accomplishments.
We are honest and transparent, accountable for our efforts, and maintain a consistently high moral standard.
- We are ethical in all that we do.
- We are fair with colleagues, partners, and those we serve, building relationships of trust.
We demonstrate respect for one another, our partners, and the people we serve in communities around the world.
- We recognize and acknowledge the strength that comes from diversity.
- We value all people equally and treat others as we would like to be treated.
- We consistently demonstrate professionalism and respect in our communications and in our behavior.
We elevate all voices striving for global economic, environmental, and social progress.
- We seek to ensure that all voices are heard.
- We strive to strengthen the voices of the marginalized and vulnerable.
- We value every team member and seek to ensure everyone can fulfill their potential.
We value our differences and draw strength from diversity.
- We support programs that engage people across societies and benefit whole communities and countries.
- We value every member of our team, learn from their experience, and foster their active engagement.
- We advance equality, foster equal opportunity and address inequality within our Agency and in our work.
COMMITMENT TO LEARNING
We seek to improve ourselves and our work continually through reflection and evaluation.
- We design and assess programs with an eye towards constant improvement.
- We recognize that professional development is fundamental to team satisfaction and success.
Celebrating Fifty Years of Progress
When the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was created, it brought together several existing foreign assistance organizations and programs. Until then, there had never been a single agency charged with foreign economic development, so with the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (pdf) by Congress, U.S. foreign assistance activities underwent a major transformation.
Leading this transformation was President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy recognized the need to unite development into a single agency responsible for administering aid to foreign countries to promote social and economic development. On November 3, 1961, USAID was born and with it a spirit of progress and innovation. November 3, 2011 marked USAID's 50th Anniversary of providing U.S. foreign development assistance From the American People. Our workforce and USAID's culture continues to serve as a reflection of core American values--values that are rooted in a belief for doing the right thing.
Early International Development Efforts
The modern-day concept of international development assistance took shape after World War II ended in 1945. George C. Marshall, the Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949 provided significant financial and technical assistance to Europe after the war. Famously known as the Marshall Plan, this was a successful effort that allowed Europe to rebuild its infrastructure, strengthen its economy, and stabilize the region.
International Aid Becomes Foreign Policy
Building on the success of the Marshall Plan, President Harry S. Truman proposed an international development assistance program in 1949. The 1950 Point Four Program focused on two goals:
- Creating markets for the United States by reducing poverty and increasing production in developing countries
- Diminishing the threat of communism by helping countries prosper under capitalism
From 1952 to 1961, programs supporting technical assistance and capital projects continued as the primary form of U.S. aid, and were a key component of U.S. foreign policy.
During this time, government leaders established various precursor organizations to USAID, including the:
- Mutual Security Agency
- Foreign Operations Administration
- International Cooperation Administration
International Aid in the 1960s: An Agency is Born
In 1961, President Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law and created USAID by executive order. Once USAID got to work, international development assistance opportunities grew tremendously. The time during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations became known as the “decade of development.”
International Aid in the 1970s: A Shift to Basic Human Needs
In the 1970s, the USAID began to shift its focus away from technical and capital assistance programs. Instead, U.S. development assistance stressed a “basic human needs” approach, which focused on:
- Food and nutrition
- Population planning
- Human resources development
- International Aid in the 1980s: A Turn to Free Markets
In the 1980s, foreign assistance sought to stabilize currencies and financial systems.
It also promoted market-based principles to restructure developing countries' policies and institutions. During this decade, USAID reaffirmed its commitment to broad-based economic growth, emphasizing employment and income opportunities through a revitalization of agriculture and expansion of domestic markets. In this decade, development activities were increasingly channeled through private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and aid shifted from individual projects to large programs.
International Aid in the 1990s: Sustainability and Democracy
In the 1990s, USAID’s top priority became sustainable development, or helping countries improve their own quality of life. During this decade, USAID tailored development assistance programs to a country's economic condition, which meant that:
- Developing countries received an integrated package of assistance
- Transitional countries received help in times of crisis
- Countries with limited USAID presence received support through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
USAID played a lead role in planning and implementing programs following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. USAID programs helped establish functioning democracies with open, market-oriented economic systems and responsive social safety nets.
International Aid in the 2000s: War and Rebuilding
The 2000s, brought more evolution for USAID and foreign assistance with government officials once again calling for reform of how the agency conducts business. With the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in full swing, USAID was called on to help those two countries rebuild government, infrastructure, civil society and basic services such as health care and education. The Agency began rebuilding with an eye to getting the most bang out of its funding allocations. It also began an aggressive campaign to reach out to new partner organizations – including the private sector and foundations – to extend the reach of foreign assistance.
Today, USAID staff work in more than 100 countries around the world with the same overarching goals that President Kennedy outlined 50 years ago – furthering America's foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while also extending a helping hand to people struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country. It is this caring that stands as a hallmark of the United States around the world.
WHAT WE DO
USAID transforms. It transforms families, communities, and countries – so they can thrive and prosper. Whether by preventing the next global epidemic, responding to a devastating earthquake, or helping a farmer access tools to grow her business.