United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

African school children in Sudan. Teachers are in short supply in the aftermath of two decades of civil war in their country. Since 2002, USAID has renovated, built, and expanded teacher education institutions.

The history of USAID is tied to predecessor agencies that implemented 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 principal U.S. 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. USAID accelerates human progress in developing countries by reducing poverty, advancing democracy, building market economics, promoting security, responding to crises, and improving the quality of life.  USAID provides this assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Eurasia, and the Middle East.

Although its headquarters is in Washington, USAID's focus is on field offices, where it works closely with private voluntary organizations, indigenous organizations, universities, American businesses, international agencies, other governments, and other U.S. government agencies to provide development assistance and humanitarian relief.