Our greatest quest yet 5 reasons we’re hopeful for the future on USAID’s 55th anniversary- By Gayle Smith

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal. — John F. Kennedy

1961. Many people remember it as the year that President John F. Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. But it also marked the start of another giant leap for mankind — a quest to advance human dignity and prosperity around the world, on behalf of the American people.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was created by President Kennedy to take up this mission. Leaders at the time understood that fostering social and economic development abroad was critical to advancing the safety and prosperity of Americans at home. They also knew it was the right thing to do.

In the 55 years that followed, USAID has represented core American values like equality, freedom, optimism and progress all across the globe, and worked to realize a world where every man, woman and child can live with dignity and reach their full potential.

Since then, we’ve come a long way. Imagine this: when the Agency was first established, only 22 percent of people expected to reach their 60th birthday. Today, more than 84 percent of people will live past this age. Innovations in science, medicine and technology over the past half-century have made it possible to live longer and better. USAID and our global partners have helped expand the reach of such tools, ensuring they can benefit even the most vulnerable people. And we have been at the forefront of global progress in health, food security, energy, water, education and more.

That’s why today, on USAID’s 55th Anniversary, I’m more hopeful than ever for the future, despite the long list of challenges we face. Here are 5 of the many reasons you should be, too.

Last updated: November 04, 2016

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