The Inter-American Foundation and S. Res. 297

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — In 1969, Congress created the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) as an independent government agency to “channel development assistance directly to the organized poor in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The IAF provides aid in the form of grants from NGOs and grassroots organizations to local community groups, governments and businesses. The IAF’s goals include strengthening democracy and improving the lives of poor people in Latin America and the Caribbean. S.Res. 297 is a resolution to acknowledge the major achievements of IAF as it celebrated its 50 year anniversary.

The Inter-American Foundation

The IAF seeks to empower marginalized groups, such as “indigenous peoples, African descendants, persons with disabilities” and more, to become more active in the political and social processes. Furthermore, by working with local NGOs and community groups, the IAF manages to give transparent foreign aid to hundreds of thousands of families throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The agency’s cost-effective model works because it maximizes funds, resources and private sector partnerships. IAF is selective about the proposals that it funds. It requires those receiving grants to commit their own resources into development so that they are invested in the outcome. It partners with private sector entities and requires grantees to report their progress so that they remain accountable and use U.S. aid responsibly. Over the decades, the IAF has worked in 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean from Argentina to Uruguay. IAF’s active portfolio includes 305 projects in the following countries.

IAF Goals

The Inter-American Foundation hopes to increase opportunities for personal development and encourage broader participation in the development process. It also works to support “democratic institutions, private and governmental, appropriate to the requirements of the individual sovereign nations of this hemisphere.” Over the past half-century, the IAF has made significant progress in Latin America and the Caribbean. The agency uses a bottom-up, community-led approach to enable local organizations to be less dependent on international donors. It supports grantees who work to spread peace, prevent conflict and combat corruption.

The success of IAF speaks for itself. The organization invested $18.5 million in 97 grassroots organizations in 2019 alone. IAF’s affiliates have invested a total of $20.0 million. This money has directly benefitted 362,000 community members. IAF has helped train 224,000 community members with new skills. In an effort to mobilize resources, IAF developed 3,000 partnerships with grantees. Finally, it created or improved at least 11,000 jobs.

Senate Resolution 297

On July 31, 2019, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez introduced S.Res. 297: A resolution commending the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) on the occasion of its 50th anniversary for its significant accomplishments and contributions to the economic and social development of the Americas. The resolution was then assigned to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. On December 17, S.Res. 297 was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders as Calendar Number 367.

S.Res. 297 notes the “significant accomplishments and contributions” of the Inter-American Foundation to the development of the Americas. According to the resolution, the IAF’s unique development model has demonstrated the effectiveness of giving direct grants to community groups and “fosters self-reliance” on the part of grantees. The resolution affirms that the IAF furthers U.S. government interests and that it will continue the essential work it does.

Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr

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