At USAID, we work hard to build a world that is safer, healthier, and more prosperous for people everywhere. Partnering is at the heart of that effort. As USAID Administrator Samantha Power has noted, the quality of the Agency’s partnerships represents “the essence of whether the development we do will be sustained over time.” The New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) helps the Agency reach its partnering potential by improving collaboration with new, nontraditional, and local actors—while enhancing local leadership, capacity, and accountability in all that we do.
NPI was relaunched in 2019 as part of an effort to implement the principles of the Agency’s 2018 Acquisition and Assistance Strategy, primarily by diversifying USAID’s partnerships and changing how the Agency partners. NPI seeks to lower the barriers faced by nontraditional partners—including local actors, U.S. small businesses, faith-based organizations, cooperatives, diaspora groups, minority-serving institutions, and civil society organizations, among others—so that the Agency can embrace the diverse potential of the partnering community in pursuit of our shared development goals. NPI strives to support prospective partners to overcome the informational imbalance typically faced by groups that are new to, or less familiar with, how USAID operates. To do so, NPI helps make Agency information, resources, and funding opportunities more transparent and accessible to all of our potential partners.
NPI recognizes the role that USAID's traditional partners, including U.S.-based implementing partners, play in engaging new, nontraditional, and local partners. We know that development work is strengthened when established implementers: partner responsibly and equitably with local organizations to ensure local priorities are centered; empower local subawardees in decision-making; operate responsively and transparently to feedback from local communities; and strengthen capacity for local organizations to thrive.
NPI’s vision is to promote funding opportunities and capacity strengthening that elevate local leadership to define the priorities that matter to their communities, design and implement solutions with the full range of development partners, mobilize resources across local systems, and foster accountability for the results.
- Promote local leadership. NPI works with local actors and traditional partners to strengthen local and national systems in ways that advance locally led development.
- Improve equity and inclusivity within partner relationships. NPI proactively seeks opportunities to engage more equitably and increase inclusion in operations and programming, particularly for those communities that traditionally have been underrepresented in partnerships with USAID and other donor agencies—including faith-based organizations, minority-serving institutions, and diaspora communities.
- Demonstrate accountability to constituents. Recognizing that USAID’s work is “from the American people” to the people of the world, NPI emphasizes the need to be equally accountable to the people in the communities in which we work as well as to the American taxpayer.
- Seek innovative approaches. NPI capitalizes on the full marketplace of ideas and solutions by collaborating with partners from all sectors of society, while developing partnerships that foster mutual accountability and strengthen local capacity.
- Lower barriers to partnerships. NPI identifies processes, norms, and regulations that prohibit potential partnerships and finds ways to mitigate them while maintaining appropriate safeguards on taxpayer resources.
- Identify new and nontraditional sources of funding. NPI fosters partnerships that leverage non-U.S. government funding sources to enhance local ownership and support effective collaboration across the spectrum of humanitarian and development funders..
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New Partnerships Initiative Accomplishments
The New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) has expanded USAID’s focus on awards to new and nontraditional partners. NPI currently supports 54 awards around the world, representing more than $1.04 billion in potential funding to approximately 70 partners.
Other important NPI accomplishments include:
- Designing and launching WorkwithUSAID.org. The site will help our prospective and existing partners access innovative tools and resources so they can learn how to better compete for funding.
- As of March 2023, more than 200,000 new users have visited the website, and more than 3,700 entities from more than 90 countries have registered in the Partner Directory, of which more than 60 percent self-identified as “local.
- We added a Sub-Opportunities Portal to the website that identifies USAID prime implementing partners who are seeking subcontractors or sub-awardees for specialized expertise or on-the-ground support.
- Lowering barriers to entry for new and nontraditional partners
- Promoting the use of two-phase applications so that potential partners can submit a two-page concept note rather than a 50-page application, which reduces the workload to apply for funding.
- Encouraging the adoption of awards with a fixed value that is mutually agreed upon by USAID and the partner as a way of paying for development results rather than reimbursing the partner for their costs. These “fixed amount awards” help mitigate the perceived risks of working with first-time partners.
- Prioritizing local voices, knowledge, and leadership
- Expanding co-creation training and facilitation support for USAID staff has enabled co-creation to play a larger role in USAID solicitations. Co-creating an activity allows partners to have a greater voice in activity design and enables USAID activities to become better aligned with local priorities.
- Including a requirement for applicants within all new NPI awards in which non-local implementing partners must develop a plan that articulates how they will incorporate feedback and maintain accountability to the local populations among whom they will be working.
Ideas? Questions? Contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up here for the NPI newsletter for the latest news and resources.
Please note: NPI is not able to provide funding for unsolicited concept notes or proposals. We do not directly issue awards but rather support Missions, Bureaus, and other parts of the Agency to design awards and apply practices that advance collaboration with new, nontraditional, and local partners.