50 years of innovation

Since its founding in 1961, USAID has invested in innovative, cost-effective solutions that save millions of lives

History: 50 Years of USAID

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was born out of a spirit of progress, innovation and a reflection of American’s values, character and a fundamental belief in doing the right thing. President John F. Kennedy recognized the need to unite development into a single agency to maximize expertise. In 1961, USAID was created. Since that time, USAID has been a quiet force for progress, fostering a more peaceful and secure world.

The spirit of innovation and the belief in doing the right thing have never been stronger. Today, USAID brings together the technology, resources and global imperative to meet the challenges of improving lives around the world.

Two new initiatives demonstrate how this works in practice:

  • Feed the Future: Feed the Future will help address the challenge of feeding a growing world population by providing farmers with new tools, knowledge and resources to increase crop yields and productivity. USAID is leading the way in shaping this food security strategy and implementation, and is working to accelerate agricultural sector growth and improve nutritional status, especially of women and children.
  • Global Health Initiative (GHI): This initiative builds on the commitment the U.S. government has made to addressing serious global health concerns like HIV/AIDS, malaria and child and newborn health. GHI will bring together the smartest and most effective programs and experts to strengthen health systems, improve maternal child health, address neglected tropical diseases, and foster research and development of new medicines and vaccines. USAID currently deploys more global health professionals and technical experts than any development agency in the world. The Agency is applying its core technical and in-country strengths to help partner countries integrate service delivery platforms, as well as to design evidence based interventions that get the maximum impact for every dollar spent in health.

We invite you to explore this website and read the stories of how USAID is bringing a new spirit of entrepreneurship and results-based development to helping people around the world build their own path out of poverty.

Watch the video below to see Administrator Rajiv Shah discuss USAID’s 50th Anniversary and the future of international development:

Innovation in Action

"Hands sorting coffee berries in Guatemala" Photo credit: Holly Wilmeth, 2005

"Hands sorting coffee berries in Guatemala" Photo credit: Holly Wilmeth, 2005

USAID was created in an era of great scientific and technological innovation, at the height of America’s space age. Because science and technology today remain critical drivers of growth and progress, USAID is bringing together the world‘s leading scientists, innovators and heads of key science agencies to help map a new science, technology, and innovation development strategy. This initiative will develop a consensus on development challenges, better integrate and apply current solutions and knowledge, fashion a science agenda around next generation solutions, and scale up existing innovative mechanisms. Our goal is to ensure that solutions in science, technology and engineering benefit peoples and communities around the globe.