Today, Open Philanthropy announced a $45 million gift to USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV). With this gift, the Agency will be able to expand its current grantmaking capabilities, and identify and scale cost-effective development innovations that can make a difference in countries where USAID works.
DIV is USAID’s open innovation fund that offers flexible grants to test new ideas, build evidence of what works, and scale breakthrough solutions that address some of the world’s toughest development challenges. Built on the idea that game-changing ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, DIV accepts applications year-round from social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, companies, and researchers working across every sector and country in which USAID operates. Open Philanthropy’s support recognizes DIV’s strong track record and commitment to investing in innovative programming that is backed by evidence.
USAID’s DIV also has a long history of lowering barriers to entry and investing in innovations delivered by local organizations. More than 50 percent of all DIV awards are given to innovators or organizations that have never worked with USAID, and more than 40 percent of DIV’s awards go directly to local organizations.
Since 2010, DIV has awarded 277 grants totaling $197 million and implemented in 47 countries. A paper by DIV Scientific Director and Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer, written in collaboration with DIV Chief Sasha Gallant and co-authors Olga Rostapshova and Milan Thomas, found that DIV’s early portfolio has returned over $17 in social benefit for every $1 of U.S. taxpayer funds spent.
USAID’s DIV currently offers three stages of grants: up to $200,000 for pilots (Stage 1); up to $1.5 million to rigorously test or assess the market viability of a product or service (Stage 2); and up to $15 million to take proven solutions to scale (Stage 3). DIV also offers awards of up to $1.5 million to evaluate programs operating at large scale that lack sufficient evidence of causal impact and cost-effectiveness. Today’s gift launches a new category of DIV grants aimed at scaling proven innovations through a “Stage 4 Initiative.”
With Open Philanthropy’s support, USAID’s DIV will expand beyond its core grantmaking to offer Stage 4 grants, which will help scale up some of the most promising programs in DIV’s portfolio through partnerships across USAID. Stage 4 grants will integrate innovations that have been rigorously demonstrated to cost-effectively improve development outcomes into broader USAID programming.