This year saw the IAF continuing to propel effective grassroots development even during a global health and economic crisis. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Latin America and the Caribbean, already vulnerable communities faced heightened food insecurity, income loss, health risks, and gender-based violence. We quickly adjusted our grant processes to facilitate rapid community-level response. IAF grantees joined the front lines, helping people survive by distributing food and personal protective equipment, investing in economic recovery, and supporting longer-term environmental and economic resilience across the region.
On top of responding to COVID-19, the IAF partnered with grantees to address other pressing hemispheric issues: providing alternatives to irregular migration, promoting women’s economic empowerment, defending human rights, and strengthening incipient civil society organizations. We also expanded our support to displaced Venezuelans, funding local organizations working with this population in Argentina, Chile, and Trinidad and Tobago. In total, we awarded almost $30 million in grant funding to 198 grassroots organizations, growing our total active portfolio to $98.5 million in 26 countries.
As the region faces the worst recession in 100 years, new partnerships with the private sector position the IAF to expand our reach. A new collaboration with Danone Argentina and the Danone Ecosystem Fund will improve the livelihoods of 4,500 recyclers in Argentina. Our regional InnovAction Challenge with the Young Americas Business Trust will fund and amplify the business innovations put forward by young entrepreneurs to address the health, safety, and economic effects of COVID-19. We’ve also expanded our disaster resiliency programming in the small island nations of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean through a joint initiative with USAID. And, with the University of British Columbia, we continue to enhance food security among agricultural communities across the region.
We are proud of all we achieved in 2020 and encouraged by the recognition our work has garnered. Our longstanding community philanthropy partnership with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation was selected as one of five finalists for the 2020 Concordia P3 Impact Award. Congress underscored its confidence in our approach, providing the IAF with its highest appropriation in recent decades. And House and Senate committees each passed bipartisan resolutions commemorating our 50th anniversary. The Senate resolution notes that the IAF’s “support of community-led efforts” has “advanced the national interests of the United States and promoted democratic values across the Western Hemisphere.”
The COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed our work in 2020, testing our responsiveness as a partner and the resilience of our grantees. In the face of hardship and uncertainty, we are encouraged that the values that have underpinned the IAF for 50 years —local solutions, partnerships, flexibility, and innovation—hold true. As we chart our course into the next 50 years, we do so with an unshakable commitment to our foundational vision: that communities know best how to resolve their own challenges. The tireless spirit of community organizations, grassroots leaders, and local entrepreneurs inspires our work and unwavering support.