The Inter-American Foundation, an independent U.S. Government agency, was created by Congress in 1969 to channel development assistance directly to the organized poor in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IAF has carried out its mandate by responding with grant support for the most creative ideas for self-help received from grassroots groups and nongovernmental organizations. It also encourages partnerships among community organizations, business and local government directed at improving the quality of life for poor people and strengthening democratic practices. The IAF is governed by a board of directors appointed by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A president, appointed by the board, serves as the Inter-American Foundation’s chief executive officer, managing a group of employees based in Washington D.C.
According to Part IV, Section 401(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1969, the IAF’s enabling statute, “it shall be the purpose of the Foundation, primarily in cooperation with private regional and international organizations, to:
- Strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding among the peoples of this hemisphere;
- Support self-help efforts designed to enlarge the opportunities for individual development;
- Stimulate and assist effective and ever wider participation of the people in the development process;
- Encourage the establishment and growth of democratic institutions, private and governmental, appropriate to the requirements of the individual sovereign nations of this hemisphere.”
Smart, cost-effective approach to development
Once considered experimental, the IAF’s approach is increasingly recommended as the most effective way to improve the quality of life in marginalized communities.
Since 1972, the IAF has awarded about 5,100 grants valued at more than $720 million. Grantees promote more profitable agriculture, micro businesses and community enterprises; they provide the skills training vital to well-paid employment; they offer access to water, basic utilities and adequate housing, allowing people to channel their energy into productive work.
In awarding its development grants, the IAF works to assure the participation of indigenous peoples, African descendants, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups, and encourages their inclusion in political and social processes. By supporting the best ideas emerging from the region, its program has strengthened a vast structure of community groups and nongovernmental organizations that has become a highly effective and transparent channel for productive foreign assistance. Together, the IAF and its partners have benefited hundreds of thousands of families in communities throughout the hemisphere.
Our effective model
The IAF delivers development assistance in a smart and highly cost-effective manner. The IAF model maximizes the value of allocated funds, leverages resources, creates private-sector partnerships and results in sustainable solutions.
The IAF selectively funds approximately 15 percent of the proposals it receives and 100 percent of its development grant budget goes directly to civil society groups.
The IAF requires all of its grantees to invest counterpart resources. This multiplies the effect of IAF funding and maximizes program returns. In 2015, grantee commitments of $19.3 million in cash or in kind more than matched the IAF’s investment of $15.7 million. Investing their own resources gives grantees a stake in the outcome of their projects, making them more likely to succeed and continue after IAF funding ends.
The IAF actively collaborates with the private sector in joint funding initiatives, often with members of the The Inter-American Network of Corporate Foundations and Actions for Grassroots Development (RedEAmérica), an IAF-initiated business-sector alliance committed to supporting self-help projects in the hemisphere.
Accountability and Results
The IAF holds all grantees accountable for the responsible use of U.S. public funds and successful implementation of their projects through annual financial audits and required reporting on their progress in achieving targeted results.
Talk about community-led development!
Recent News and Stories
What does it mean to “stay at home” when you’ve been spending months or even years searching for one? For Venezuelan migrants, recent events have further complicated their ability to create a sense of home.
In a context like Honduras in which violence and poverty abound but jobs do not, how do young people find hope? Many IAF grantees have been working to provide it.
Looking for scenes of beauty and strength during these challenging times? In early March 2020, several IAF staff members traveled to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Lucia to visit potential grantee partners. Get a peek into community-led innovations in the Caribbean through their photos.