March 12, 2010 — When many people hear about the United States work in international development the first agency that comes to mind is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
But little known to many in the United States there is an agency whose mission is to provide grants to nongovernmental and community-based organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean for innovative, sustainable and participatory self-help programs.
This agency is the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), an independent agency of the United States government that primarily funds partnerships among grassroots and nonprofit organizations, businesses and local governments, directed at improving the quality of life of poor people and strengthening participation, accountability and democratic practices.
The IAF makes modest investments of U.S. taxpayer dollars in grassroots efforts and has had success in many Latin American and Caribbean countries including Ecuador where a funded program extends microcredit to women and the other that focuses on food security and the sound management of natural resources.
Since beginning operations in 1971, the IAF has made nearly 5,000 grants totaling nearly $650 million. Together, the IAF and its grantees have worked to improve the conditions of hundreds of thousands of families in communities throughout the hemisphere.
As IAF celebrates its 40th anniversary it has been recognized as a model for channeling U.S. foreign assistance to the grassroots.
Derrick T. Dortch is joined by several IAF staff members including: Linda Borst-Kolko, Vice President for Operations; Paula Durbin, Public Affairs Specialist; Mark Caicedo, Public Affairs Specialist; and Eduardo Rodriguez-Frias, Public Affairs Specialist to discuss the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), its mission, grant programs, fellowships and publications focused on educating people about the work of Grassroot Development.