The establishment of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) marked a significant shift in American foreign assistance efforts. Prior to its creation, various foreign assistance organizations and programs operated independently. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, passed by Congress, served as the catalyst for this transformation.
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At the forefront of this change was President John F. Kennedy, who recognized the necessity of consolidating development efforts under a single agency responsible for administering aid to foster social and economic progress in foreign nations. On November 3, 1961, USAID was officially founded, ushering in a period of progress and innovation. In 2011, USAID celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing foreign development assistance on behalf of the American people. The agency’s workforce and culture continue to embody core American values deeply rooted in a commitment to doing what is morally right.
Early international development initiatives started to take shape following World War II’s conclusion in 1945. Notably, Secretary of State George C. Marshall played a pivotal role by providing substantial financial and technical support to Europe through the Marshall Plan, enabling the region to rebuild its infrastructure, strengthen its economy, and stabilize the area.
Building upon the success of the Marshall Plan, President Harry S. Truman proposed an international development assistance program in 1949, known as the 1950 Point Four Program. This initiative had two primary objectives: creating markets for the United States by reducing poverty and increasing production in developing countries, and diminishing the threat of communism by fostering prosperity under capitalism. From 1952 to 1961, technical assistance and capital projects were the primary forms of U.S. aid, central to the country’s foreign policy.
During this period, precursor organizations to USAID were established, such as the Mutual Security Agency, Foreign Operations Administration, and International Cooperation Administration.
In 1961, President Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law, and by executive order, USAID came into existence. With the establishment of USAID, opportunities for international development assistance expanded significantly, leading to the “decade of development” during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
The 1970s witnessed a shift in USAID’s focus towards basic human needs, emphasizing areas like food, nutrition, population planning, health, education, and human resources development.
In the 1980s, foreign assistance aimed at stabilizing currencies and financial systems, while promoting market-based principles to reform policies and institutions in developing countries. This decade also saw a renewed emphasis on broad-based economic growth, particularly through agriculture revitalization and domestic market expansion. Development activities increasingly involved private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and aid shifted from individual projects to comprehensive programs.
The 1990s marked a shift towards sustainable development as USAID’s top priority, tailoring assistance programs to each country’s economic conditions. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, USAID played a significant role in establishing democracies with market-oriented economic systems and responsive social safety nets.
In the 2000s, USAID faced new challenges with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, being called upon to assist in rebuilding these nations, including government, infrastructure, civil society, and basic services. The agency also aimed to optimize its funding allocations and expand partnerships with organizations, including the private sector and foundations.
Today, USAID operates in over 100 countries, upholding the goals articulated by President Kennedy 50 years ago, which involve advancing America’s foreign policy interests through democracy and free market expansion while also providing assistance to individuals striving for a better life, recovery from disasters, and the opportunity to live in free and democratic societies. USAID’s commitment to these principles continues to represent the caring spirit of the United States across the globe.
In its current role, USAID works to support partners in becoming self-reliant, capable of leading their own development journeys. This involves reducing conflict, preventing the spread of pandemics, addressing the root causes of violence and instability, transnational crime, and other security threats. The agency also promotes American prosperity by expanding U.S. export markets, creating a level playing field for U.S. businesses, and supporting more stable, resilient, and democratic societies. Furthermore, USAID stands as a global leader in humanitarian assistance, offering aid when disasters strike or crises emerge.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
“Each of us holds the responsibility to combat bias, gender discrimination, and structural racism while upholding the dignity of every individual. This commitment isn’t just a value we hold; it’s our mission—a collective effort to reach out to one another, meet people where they are, and treat everyone as equals.” — Samantha Power, USAID Administrator
At USAID, our dedication extends to fostering a workplace that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, offering every individual the opportunity to thrive.
Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategy underscores our commitment to augmenting diversity across the Agency, promoting inclusion and equity for all within our work environment, and establishing accountability for nurturing and maintaining a diverse workforce and an inclusive organizational culture.
To realize the first objective—enhancing diversity across the Agency—our leadership will proactively address internal systems that may hinder inclusive diversity efforts and access throughout an employee’s journey at USAID. We will develop, implement, and enhance a spectrum of policies, programs, practices, and systems aimed at increasing diversity. Additionally, we will craft and implement inclusive outreach strategies to attract talent from various sources.
To achieve the second objective—enhancing inclusion and equity in the workplace—our leaders will actively champion and enable staff participation in initiatives dedicated to enhancing our DEI efforts. We will actively engage with these groups to translate their recommendations and efforts into action. Agency leadership will also establish and enhance training and capacity-building opportunities for all staff, including managers and supervisors, on diversity fundamentals, bias, and inclusion principles. These initiatives are essential for creating a respectful, safe, and inclusive work environment that bolsters staff retention.
The third goal of the strategy focuses on reinforcing accountability for cultivating and preserving a diverse workforce and an inclusive Agency culture. To realize this goal, we will consistently apply DEI principles across program and management operations. All Agency leaders will be required to demonstrate their support for DEI at USAID. Performance management efforts across the Agency will emphasize accountability in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace at all staff levels. Moreover, our DEI promotion endeavors will be guided by workforce data and principles of transparency.
These goals, along with the actions we commit to taking for progress and change in DEI, have been defined in this strategy after a rigorous process involving data collection, analysis, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, listening sessions, and consultations throughout the Agency. Multiple stakeholders were engaged in crafting this strategy. The establishment of this strategy marks not the end but the continuation of our ongoing commitment to making progress, taking tangible steps, and maintaining accountability toward achieving these goals.
As Administrator Power aptly noted, “Too often, the responsibility for fostering a more equitable, respectful, and inclusive workplace falls disproportionately on underrepresented and under-resourced staff.” This strategy ensures that everyone within the Agency shares both the responsibility and the opportunity to embrace our dedication to fostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment at USAID.
Mission, Vision, and Core Values
In representation of the American people, we champion and exemplify democratic principles on the global stage, working towards a world that is free, peaceful, and prosperous. As a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development takes the lead in international development and disaster relief through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, fortify democratic governance, and guide individuals through humanitarian crises toward self-reliance and progress.
Our goal is to empower our partners to become self-sufficient and capable leaders on their unique development journeys. We make strides towards this goal by diminishing the reach of conflict, preventing the spread of pandemics, and combating the root causes of violence, instability, transnational crime, and other security threats. We also contribute to American prosperity by investing in opportunities that expand markets for U.S. exports, level the playing field for American businesses, and foster more stable, resilient, and democratic societies. In times of disaster or crisis, we stand alongside people as a global leader in humanitarian assistance.
1. Passion for Mission:
– We are dedicated to advancing sustainable development and enhancing human dignity worldwide.
– Each of us contributes uniquely to further our mission, whether through diverse sectors or support for global operations and management.
– We constantly strive for efficiency, effectiveness, and meaningful outcomes across our work.
– We aspire to lead international and U.S. Government endeavors to enhance the well-being of the world’s most vulnerable individuals economically, politically, socially, and environmentally.
– Continuous improvement is our goal, and we take pride in our work and accomplishments.
– We uphold a high moral standard, with honesty, transparency, and accountability in our efforts.
– Ethical conduct is at the core of all our actions.
– Fairness and trust-building are pivotal in our relationships with colleagues, partners, and those we serve.
– Respect is the foundation of our interactions with one another, our partners, and the global communities we serve.
– We value diversity and recognize the strength it brings.
– All individuals are equally valued, and we treat others as we wish to be treated, consistently upholding professionalism and respect in our communications and behavior.
– We champion all voices striving for global economic, environmental, and social progress.
– Ensuring that every voice is heard is our goal, with a particular focus on strengthening marginalized and vulnerable voices.
– We place great value on every team member and work to unlock their full potential.
– Our differences are celebrated, and we draw strength from diversity.
– We support programs that engage people across societies and benefit entire communities and countries.
– Every member of our team is valued, and we actively seek to learn from their experiences, fostering their engagement.
– We promote equality, equal opportunity, and the resolution of inequality within our Agency and in our work.
7. Commitment to Learning:
– We are committed to ongoing self-improvement and continual enhancement of our work through reflection and evaluation.
– We design and evaluate programs with a focus on constant improvement.
– We recognize that professional development is fundamental to team satisfaction and success.
Website link: https://www.usaid.gov/
Phone number: 1-202-712-4810