Who We Are2021-10-22T09:16:47-04:00

IAF at-a-glance

The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) is an independent U.S. foreign assistance agency created by Congress in 1969 that directly invests in community-led grassroots development across Latin America and the Caribbean. The IAF awards small grants to civil society organizations that promote inclusive economic prosperity, reduce food insecurity, combat corruption, prevent violence and crime, protect the environment and build resilience to natural disasters, and sustainably manage natural resources. The agency engages local leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in underserved areas to make their communities more prosperous, peaceful, and democratic. Partnerships with the private sector and foundations as well as peer-to-peer learning among grantee organizations amplify its impact. The IAF is governed by a bipartisan board of directors drawn from the private sector and the federal government, 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.

Congressional Mandate

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.

Private-sector Partnerships

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!

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