Small Project Assistance Program

 

Quick Facts

Managed by

USAID Office of Local Sustainability (E3/LS), in partnership with the Peace Corps.

Launched in

1983

Program Outcomes

Below is a snapshot of SPA's global programming from October 2017-September 2018:

SPA operates in 50 countries. With over $4 million in funding, SPA provided the following support:

  • More than 700 grants
  • More than 60 training activities
  • More than 65  program support activities

 Through these activities, SPA has involved more than 810,700 community members.

Advancing the Journey to Self-Reliance. SPA has proven to be effective in helping partner countries meet their own development goals. An evaluation of 2013-2017 grants found that:

  • 96% of SPA projects were completed
  • 67% of projects were completed and meaningfully sustained by the community
  • 28% of projects were completed, sustained, and expanded upon by the community

Read the full evaluation here.

Questions?
Email spa@usaid.gov.

To commemorate 25 years of partnership through the Small Project Assistance (SPA) Program, USAID/Armenia and Peace Corps/Armenia created this video. With perspectives from USAID/Armenia and Peace Corps/Armenia leadership, as well as footage from the opening of a SPA-funded youth development project at a local YMCA, this video highlights the impact of community-led development.

Please refer to Peace Corps' information regarding the temporary evacuation of Peace Corps Volunteers and coronavirus operational impacts.

Partnering with the Peace Corps to address community priorities and boost local capacity. USAID’s Office of Local Sustainability manages the Small Project Assistance Program (SPA), a collaboration between USAID and the Peace Corps to support grassroots community development projects. Since 1983, SPA has used more than $76 million in USAID funding to reach 30 million local community members in more than 115 countries around the world.

With USAID funding, SPA partners with the Peace Corps to strengthen the capacity of local community groups. SPA works in every sector, but has this shared programming objective: working with and building the capacity of local communities. Local community groups can include informal community working groups, local associations, local government entities, schools, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

SPA is rooted strongly in the principles of self-reliance. SPA programming provides a unique opportunity for experiential learning, allowing communities to take the lead in their own development. The requirements for small grants, the main component of the SPA Program, highlight how the program advances self-reliance:

  • Be community initiated and directed
  • Meet a determined community need
  • Promote sustainability and capacity building
  • Include a minimum community contribution of 25% of the total project cost

SPA enables USAID, the Peace Corps, and local communities to partner and co-invest in catalyzing community-led development.

Program Details

The SPA Program provides support to Peace Corps Volunteers and their community counterparts in the following ways:

  • Grants: Small grants are the main component of the SPA Program. Averaging $2,500, this funding, paired with a minimum 25% match from the community, supports development projects aimed at building capacity for community led development.
  • Technical Training: Through the SPA Program, Peace Corps Posts provide technical training for Peace Corps Volunteers and their community counterparts, allowing for more specialized work and a broader reach of USAID development activities.
  • Program Support: The SPA Program enables Peace Corps Posts  and USAID Missions to support, invest in, and learn from the work being done by Volunteers and their communities.

Eligibility and Requirements

For USAID Missions and Peace Corps Posts: Generally, any country in which the Peace Corps operates that is served by a USAID bilateral or regional Mission is eligible to initiate and participate in the SPA Program. USAID Missions and Peace Corps Posts should contact their respective headquarters for information on starting a field-level SPA Program, how to participate in the annual SPA funding negotiation cycle, and other programmatic information.

For Peace Corps Volunteers and host country community organizations: More information can be obtained from the respective Peace Corps Post.  For small grants, Peace Corps Volunteers should contact their Peace Corps Small Grants Coordinator for information on the SPA Program. Host-country community groups and leaders are invited to participate in the SPA Program by working closely with a Peace Corps Volunteer and the respective community counterpart. Peace Corps Volunteers and counterparts may be invited to participate in SPA-funded technical training and/or SPA program support activities, as communicated by the respective Peace Corps Post.

SPA Project Examples

Liberia: Supporting Hands-On Science Learning

Six teachers and a Peace Corps Volunteer teamed up to promote the use of interactive science experiments in the classroom. To do so, they created a workbook showing how to construct and use scientific equipment, but with only locally available materials.

Funding from a SPA small grant, coupled with the investment from the local community, supported the cost of local supplies for the science experiments, as well as the printing of the workbook and an accompanying training manual for teachers.  The team then invited local teachers to participate in workshops and lesson planning.

Now, not only are area teachers incorporating the workbook into their lessons, several have established science clubs in the area. With this manual, more teachers are supporting hands-on science learning that is uniquely adapted to the local context. Peace Corps/Liberia has also adopted the workbook and training manuals, sharing them with teaching Volunteers throughout the country.

Kosovo: Training the Trainers on Youth Engagement

A Youth Development Workshop convened 25 community members, along with 25 Peace Corps Volunteers, to learn about the best ways and strategies to engage local youth populations.

The training introduced participants to Peace Corps resources and other evidence-based resources. From effective clubs and camps to service learning, the workshop - which was highly rated by participants - paved the way for more effective community-led programming moving forward.

Participants expressed a newfound sense of empowerment: “This information will be used for bettering the life of youth in my community.”

Dominican Republic: Scaling Up a Coffee Grower Cooperative

A coffee grower cooperative, made up of over 80 farmers, faced a challenge: in the coffee market, opportunities for selling raw products in bulk are severely limited. They needed the equipment and training to process and market their materials to be more competitive.

With a SPA grant, the cooperative was able to purchase an industrial coffee grinder, packaging, and digital accounting software. The matching community contribution - totaling over 25% of the total project cost - supported the transportation and installation of the machinery (relying on local labor to do so). Through SPA, the farmers also received training in marketing, sales, and branding, as well as financial management strategies.

This project helped the coffee cooperative scale up, providing a better product, more effective service, and an established brand - along with the skills needed to effectively market that brand.

Want to learn more about the Small Project Assistance Program? Sign up for our newsletter, and check out past editions in the newsletter archive.

Contact

For more information about the Small Project Assistance Program, please contact spa@usaid.gov.

To learn more about our other programs, visit the Office of Local Sustainability's webpage.

Last updated: June 26, 2020

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