Diaspora Giving Back

Diaspora volunteers mentor students in Sri Lanka.
Diaspora volunteers from Educate Lanka Foundation support disadvantaged students in Sri Lanka.
Educate Lanka Foundation

Diasporas often have the skills, networks and commitment to make significant development impact in their home countries as philanthropists, volunteers and advocates for change.     

Across the U.S., Diaspora communities are giving back to their ancestral homes. Globally, USAID partners with Diaspora organizations and networks to bring both technical and local knowledge to its development and humanitarian assistance efforts. 

Diaspora philanthropists are deeply engaged in the wellbeing of their home communities. For example, migrant associations in the United States known as Hometown Associations, leverage collective donations to finance community development projects in their home countries. Diaspora social entrepreneurs are creating innovative approaches to improve livelihoods and promote peace in post-conflict countries. In times of disasters, Diaspora communities also organize to support response and reconstruction efforts. 

Diasporas often have the technical, linguistic and cultural skills to serve as volunteers worldwide. There are an estimated 200,000 first- and second-generation immigrants among the 1 million U.S. residents who spend time volunteering abroad each year. Diaspora community members return to their home countries to perform short or long-term public service, bringing specialized and local knowledge to economic and social development efforts. 

Recognizing the important role Diasporas play as advocates in bridging understanding between their adopted and home countries, USAID partners with diaspora organizations working to foster policy dialogues focused on economic and social development abroad.

USAID works with Diaspora philanthropists and volunteer groups in a number of ways:

  • As a member of the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), USAID provides a platform to foster dialogue and provide a voice for Diaspora communities. 
  • Through the Diasporas for Development Initiative, USAID is partnering with Accenture LLP and Cuso International to encourage diaspora volunteerism by recruiting highly-skilled Diaspora professionals to support of local development projects.
  • Diaspora organizations new to partnering with the U.S. Government may consider applying to USAID’s Development Grants Program (DGP), a funding competition that provides small-grants for U.S. and local nonprofit organizations that have limited or no experience managing direct USAID programs or funding. Diaspora organizations from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Jamaica have been awarded grants through the DGP program. 
  • For Diaspora civil society groups and other organizations, the Making All Voices Count Grand Challenge grant competition supports use of innovative web and mobile technologies to improve government performance and accountability to amplify the voices of citizens. 

Examples of USAID's work with Diasporas:

  • Through the IdEA partnership the annual Global Diaspora Forum convenes Diaspora leaders and organizations to unleash the potential of engagement through events in hubs for diaspora communities, including Washington, D.C. 
  • USAID also supports the use of MentorCloud, a web-based platform that connects Diaspora mentors with mentees to achieve their personal, academic, and professional aspirations. 
  • The Armenian Eye Care Project, a U.S.-based Diaspora organization, and USAID partnered to strengthen primary eye-care in Armenia and reached over 245,000 patients. 
  • In Haiti the Emergency Capacity Assistance Program (ECAP) for Shelter and Settlement, connected Diaspora professionals with local organizations to provide technical and capacity building support for earthquake recovery efforts.
  • USAID partnered with the National Albanian American Council (NAAC) to strengthen the role of women in policy and decision-making in Kosovo through Hope Fellowships.

Please contact us for more information.

Last updated: June 24, 2016

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