The United States has a long history of extending a helping hand to people overseas who are struggling to make a better life, recovering from a disaster, or striving to live in a free and democratic country. It is this caring that stands as a hallmark of the United States around the world—and shows the world our true character as a nation.
U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of citizens of the developing world. Spending less than one-half of one percent of the federal budget, USAID works around the world to achieve its goals.
USAID’s history goes back to the Marshall Plan reconstruction of Europe after World War II and the Truman Administration’s Point Four Program. In 1961, the Foreign Assistance Act was signed into law and USAID was created by executive order.
Since that time, USAID has been the principle agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.
USAID is an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. The agency works to support long-term equitable economic growth and the advancement of U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting:
- economic growth, agriculture and trade;
- global health; and,
- democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance
USAID provides assistance in Saharan Africa, Asia and the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Eurasia. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., USAID’s strength is its field offices in many regions of the world. The Agency works in 100 developing countries and in close partnership with private voluntary organizations, indigenous groups, universities, American businesses, international organizations, other governments, trade and professional associations, faith-based organizations, and other U.S. government agencies. USAID has working relationships, through contracts and agreements, with more than 3,500 American companies and over 300 U.S.-based private voluntary organizations.
For additional information, visit USAID’s website at www.usaid.gov.