50 Years Creating a Hemisphere of Opportunity for All


Creating a Hemisphere of Opportunity: Five Decades of Achievements

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) was established in 1962 as an affiliate of the Organization of American States (OAS). It was created through a unique cooperative agreement between the OAS and private enterprise to provide a specialized non-governmental organization to assist the least advantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean in support of the Alliance for Progress initiated by the Kennedy administration. Funding was provided by the Social Progress Trust Fund at the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the OAS and corporate and private donors.

They were interested in creating a foundation that could mobilize the private sector to assist the neediest people through productive employment in micro-enterprises, technical training, developing civil society, encouraging national entrepreneurship, and facilitating corporate social responsibility.

PADF was inspired by the establishment in Guatemala in the early 1960s of the Penny Foundation by Samuel Greene who organized a group of local businessmen to create a fund to provide small loans to indigenous people and rural residents who had no access to credit. It pioneered one of the first micro-lending programs, later made famous by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

PADF provided support to the Penny Foundation and sought to replicate its methods throughout the hemisphere. Beginning with assistance to a group in the Dominican Republic, this initiative then expanded to create 33 similar micro-enterprise foundations or institutes in other countries during the 1970s and 1980s.

Over the past five decades, PADF has strengthened thousands of Latin American civil society groups through the provision of technical assistance, equipment and training for institution-building and local fundraising. It has provided grants to expand their activities that have benefited millions of destitute people living in the Americas, especially in countries like Haiti, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, the Caribbean Basin, among others.

PADF has also helped non-governmental organizations (NGOs) form alliances with municipalities, government agencies, corporate and private donors to develop micro-enterprises, provide employment and technical training, improve basic services, facilitate citizen participation in community-action programs, and aid victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises. PADF is a support mechanism for the Inter-American Democratic Charter approved by OAS-member States on September 11, 2001 for strengthening civil society, community groups and the private sector as fundamental pillars of democracy.

The Foundation embodies the spirit of hemispheric solidarity and cooperation that gave birth to Pan-Americanism and the Inter-American system in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Working in partnership with local non-profits, PADF makes assistance available to some of the least fortunate in the Americas, such as those trapped in poverty and conflictive areas, displaced and indigenous people, Afro-descendent populations, victims of natural disasters, and other vulnerable groups. With support from public and private donors, PADF has evolved into the largest foundation in the Inter-American system, mobilizing almost $600 million for projects during its nearly 50 years of operation.

The OAS was the first international organization to create a specialized NGO affiliate. The United Nations, the U.S. government and others later used PADF as a model for establishing similar foundations.


PADF is founded by the Organization of American States with support from the Inter-American Development Bank in support of President John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress.


The Guatemalan Penny Foundation is founded to provide microcredit to community groups. It served as the model for PADF's National Development Foundation Movement. That year, PADF receives its first grant of $5,000 from the Sloan Foundation.


PADF establishes Operation Children, which provided funds for school construction, teaching materials, potable water systems, and hot lunches.


PADF receives its first USAID grant to support the foundation of the NDFs.


The first NDF is established in the Dominican Republic.


PADF joins forces with Tools for Freedom program to channel U.S. vocational equipment to the developing world. Later named Tools for Training, this program has served thousands of needy students learning trades and seeking jobs. PADF's new Health Services Program sends its first shipment to Chile.


The number of NDFs created by PADF reaches ten in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Argentina, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. PADF also provides disaster relief for the first time to Honduras and El Salvador.


The OAS names PADF a "special purpose foundation" and a "service foundation," recognizing its focus on poverty alleviation and services to the poor. PADF registers with USAID as a private voluntary organization and achieves consultative status with the UN.


PADF signs agreement with the Pan American Health Organization for technical cooperation and evaluation of health programs.


A four-year agroforestry program begins in Haiti.


The OAS and PADF sign a formal cooperative agreement.


PADF begins rural development projects in the Eastern Caribbean, Honduras, and Belize


PADF holds the first Contact Forum for Latin American and Caribbean nongovernmental organizations.


The thirty-third and final National Development Foundation is created in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.


The Children's Surgical Program begins in Nicaragua.


A $30 million USAID-funded Haiti jobs program begins.


Municipal development programs begin in Argentina, Guatemala, and Peru.


The World Bank and Government of Haiti fund a second $30 million Haiti jobs program.


PADF begins an employment project with internal Colombian refugees. PADF also signs strategic alliance for disaster assistance with American Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA).


The Health Services Program generates $420,000 in donations and delivers $195,000 in hospital equipment and supplies to medical institutions in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.


PADF launches a remittance-based economic development initiative that supports U.S.-based immigrant groups from El Salvador, Haiti, and Mexico who are working to improve education and infrastructure, generate jobs, increase incomes, and provide sustainable opportunities for communities in their countries of origin.


With U.S. Department of Agriculture and Government of Haiti backing, PADF supports the development of rural Haiti by improving mountain roads, repairing irrigation systems, retrofitting primary schools, planting more than 200,000 trees, and protecting and reclaiming arable land.


PADF's USAID-funded Hillside Agriculture Project rejuvenates Haiti's exports of premium specialty coffees sold in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, resulting in assistance to more than 58,000 people, crop revenue increases of $1.14 million, and the facilitation of $795,000 in farmer loans.


A program to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters benefits more than 165,000 people in 70 communities in Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Colombia.


Through the Our Border program, PADF reaches more than 100,000 Haitians and Dominicans by strengthening 43 local civil society organizations in the cross-border region that year alone. PADF also assists the Haitian Parliament to create a special border commission that results in a significant increase in funding for the border region.


PADF's In-Kind Donations program reaches more than 1 million beneficiaries in nine countries, including Peru, Ecuador, Jamaica, and Uruguay, with medical equipment and tools for training. This is an increase of 66 percent from the previous year.


PADF's benefits more than 17,500 students, teachers, and parents through the Manos Unidas por El Salvador program, which serves as a transnational model for improving education. In Colombia, more than 289,500 internally displaced persons receive support ranging from education and psychological services, to new infrastructure and job training.


After the deadly January 12 Haiti earthquake, PADF delivers $2.2 million in private sector and individual aid to more than 1.7 million people—PADF's most extensive relief effort to date. PADF also trains 400 engineers who inspect the structural integrity of more than 389,000 buildings in Port-au-Prince, becoming the largest assessment ever conducted for a disaster of this magnitude.


In Haiti, PADF speeds up efforts to repair multi-family homes in Haiti, the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake, with a $1.98 million grant from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and a $1 million grant from equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. PADF also announces a $1.2 million expansion of Colombia's South-South Cooperation Program, a program funded by Colombia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support from the Presidential Agency for Social Action and International Cooperation to help consolidate and strengthen cooperation with Central America and the Caribbean.