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 Development and relief agency
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. In 2009, its programs reached more than 10 million people in 22 countries. 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 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 the statement is published in its Annual Report. 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” achieved 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 in Latin American and the Caribbean. The programs are divided into four areas of development.

Natural disaster programs[edit]

PADF works with local non-governmental organizations and communities to respond to natural disasters and implement disaster relief programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. 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.

As of 2012, 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.[6]

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.

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.[7]

Grantees from the initial round of the LEAD Program included SOGEPA (a cocoa producer), ECSSA (a recycling firm), Atelier Jourdain (a garment manufacturer) and CASTMI (a water production facility).

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.[8]

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. Since its foundation in 1962, PADF has worked with more than 2,000 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 previously 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.

US State Department funding[edit]

In 2010 documents released under the US Freedom of Information Act showed at least $4m in US State Department funding to PADF from 2007 to 2009, of which at least $700,000 was to be distributed to Venezuelan NGOs and journalists. At least in the case of Venezuela (the only documents released so far), the State Department waived the usual requirement that publications acknowledge the support given. Most names involved remain secret, but the Venezuelan NGOs Espacio Público and Instituto Prensa y Sociedad are known to have received "subgrants".[9]


External links[edit]