Pan American Development Foundation

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Pan American Development Foundation
Abbreviation PADF
Motto A Hemisphere of Opportunity for All
Founded 1962
Founder Ronald Scheman
Type International Development Organization
Area served
Latin America, Caribbean
Key people
John Sanbrailo, Executive Director

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is a non-governmental and non-political organization created in 1962 by the Organization of American States (OAS), the public sector and the private sector to focus on issues of pressing concern in the Western Hemisphere. PADF, a non-profit organization, has worked in every country in the region. PADF aims to bring together stakeholders to create sustainable economic development, strengthen civil society and respond to natural disasters for the most disadvantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean.[1]

PADF, which also works to support the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,[2] is an independent affiliate of the OAS.[3]


The PADF was established in 1962, by the Organization of American States (OAS), as part of the Alliance for Progress initiated by U.S. President John F. Kennedy. It was created through a cooperative agreement between the OAS and private enterprise to provide a specialized non-governmental organization to assist the least advantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since its creation, PADF has implanted development programs throughout the Western Hemisphere carrying out the goals set forth by the OAS.

In 1975, OAS named PADF a “special purpose foundation” achieving consultative status with the United Nations.[4]


In keeping with its mission to create “a Hemisphere of Opportunity for All,”[5] PADF implements a range of different programs, reaching millions of people in Latin American and the Caribbean. The programs are divided into four areas of development.

Economic opportunity programs[edit]

PADF implements economic opportunity programs with the focus of improving the livelihoods of disadvantaged individuals and families. The programs include support for micro and medium-size businesses, skills training for youth and vulnerable groups, improving agricultural conditions and techniques, and expanding or improving local infrastructure.

LEAD program[edit]

In 2012, PADF implemented the Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investment (LEAD) program with $13 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The LEAD program is a business plan competition which awards grants to small and medium enterprises. The grants range from $50,000 to $200,000 and must be matched be the grantee.[6]

PADF announced the launch of the second edition of the LEAD Program on February 20, 2013. Following the launch of the second round, a group of Haitian businesses, which had been awarded LEAD grants, participated in a business and investment seminar at Columbia University. The event is part of a series of investment events and conferences that the businesses are participating in throughout the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic.[7]

Community and civil society programs[edit]

Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, PADF partners with civil society organizations on programs intended to increase their capacity to respond to community needs. Civil society programming aims to enhance democratic values and empower communities and social entrepreneurs. It also promotes human rights, especially for Afro-descendants, indigenous and other vulnerable groups. Since its foundation in 1962, PADF has worked with thousands of civil society and community-based groups.

Social progress programs[edit]

PADF initiates programs, often with partnership from private corporations and donors, to confront social issues and strengthen communities in many Latin American and Caribbean nations. PADF has implemented programs aimed at community-driven development, improving infrastructure and housing, upgrading technical training and health services, aiding at-risk youth, and combating human trafficking, gang activities and violence.

Natural disaster programs[edit]

PADF works with local non-governmental organizations and communities to prepare for disasters, taking systematic precautions to reduce the risk of potential disasters. The programs are designed to lessen the impact of disasters and crises by: helping communities prepare for disasters; providing emergency relief; assisting disaster recovery, reconstruction and mitigation; strengthening community responses to natural disasters; supporting the Inter-American Committee for Disaster Reduction (IACDR); and aiding victims or humanitarian crises.

PADF also responds to natural disasters and implements disaster relief programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. PADF has provided disaster relief assistance to communities in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, St. Lucia and Venezuela.

2010 Haiti earthquake response[edit]

On January 12, 2010, an earthquake with a scale of 7.0 struck Haiti just 10 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. According to Haitian government estimations, the earthquake killed or injured 616,000 people, damaged or destroyed 250,000 residences, and left 1,000,000 people homeless.[8]

In response to the disaster, PADF has helped assess the structural safety of more than 400,000 buildings, repaired more than 9,000 homes, and instituted more than 1,000 community development programs in what is the single largest effort in the organization’s history.


PADF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in the United States. It receives donations from individuals, corporations, multilateral organizations (such as the World Bank, the UN, the Inter-American Development Bank, among others) and governments. It is audited each year and an annual statement is published in its annual report.


External links[edit]