The United States has a history of extending a helping hand to people overseas struggling to make a better life, recovering from disasters, or striving to live in a free and democratic country. This caring 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 purpose of furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets, while improving the lives of the citizens of the developing world.
USAID history goes back to the Marshall Plan reconstruction of Europe after World War II and the Truman Administration’s Point Four Program. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law and created USAID. Since that time, it 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 receiving overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. Our work supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting global health, economic growth, agriculture and trade, democracy, conflict prevention, and humanitarian assistance.