• Inside Development

Top USAID grant implementers: A primer

By Lorenzo Piccio10 June 2013

USAID-funded food distribution in Haiti. Photo by: Colin Thomas-Jensen / USAID / DART / CC BY-SA

The U.S. Agency for International Development awards billions in grants each year, mostly to nonprofit organizations. In fiscal 2012, USAID contributed $8.9 billion in grants, 51 percent of which were awarded under cooperative agreements. Cooperative agreements allow USAID limited participation in the recipient’s project.

In line with the USAID Forward reform agenda’s goal of broadening the agency’s partner base, USAID has opened a number of new grant-making channels in recent years. For instance, through its Development Innovation Ventures program alone, USAID is currently supporting development projects in 19 countries. Aimed at identifying and scaling up innovative development interventions, the program has received more than 3,000 applications since its launch in October 2010.

USAID has also committed to award more of its grants to local organizations, again in keeping with USAID Forward. In fiscal 2012, groups based outside the United States received only 14 percent of the agency’s grant funding. USAID has set a target of channeling 30 percent of its overall assistance to governments, local businesses and local nongovernmental organizations by 2015.

Here are the top USAID-funded grant implementers, based on data from USASpending.gov for fiscal 2012. In addition to implementing organizations, multilateral agencies including the World Bank and the World Food Program also receive grants from USAID.

1. FHI 360

Founded: 1971

Headquarters: Durham, N.C.

CEO: Albert Siemens

USAID grant funding: $360 million

Drawing on its expertise in health, education, environment, economic development and civil society, FHI 360 provides services including capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, research and social marketing. Now working in more than 60 countries, FHI 360 was known as Family Health International or FHI until its 2011 acquisition of AED.

2. Catholic Relief Services

Founded: 1943

Headquarters: Baltimore, Md.

President and CEO: Carolyn Woo

USAID grant funding: $172 million

The official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community, Catholic Relief Services has worked in more than 100 countries since its founding. CRS focuses its work on six areas: emergencies, hunger, education, health, peace-building and U.S. advocacy for social change.

3. Jhpiego

Founded: 1973

Headquarters: Baltimore, Md.

President and CEO: Leslie D. Mancuso

USAID grant funding: $169.2 million

With experience working in more than 155 countries, Jhpiego designs and implements solutions to improve the health of women and their families. Jhpiego’s work focuses on areas including maternal and family health, family planning and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS prevention and care, and malaria prevention and treatment. Jhpiego’s parent organization, the Johns Hopkins University, is ranked 11th on this list.

4. Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening

Founded: 1995

USAID grant funding: $149.2 million

The Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening comprises three U.S.-based democracy groups: International Foundation for Electoral Systems, International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute. Each of the three groups has an equal stake in the consortium. In fiscal 2012, USAID funded CEPPS’ activities in a host of countries including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Georgia, Libya, and South Sudan.

5. RTI International

Founded: 1958

Headquarters: Research Triangle Park, N.C.

President and CEO: E. Wayne Holden

USAID grant funding: $137.7 million

With a staff exceeding 3,700, RTI International provides research and technical services to governments and businesses in more than 75 countries. Governance and economic development, international education, global health, and information and communication technology are among RTI International’s areas of expertise in its international development practice.

6. Save the Children USA

Founded:  1932

Headquarters: Westport, Conn.

President and CEO: Carolyn S. Miles

USAID grant funding: $123.7 million

Serving more than more than 78 million children in 2012, Save the Children USA’s programs worldwide include emergency response, child protection, education, health and nutrition, and hunger and livelihoods. Save the Children USA is one of 30 member organizations of Save the Children International. Save the Children was named a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator in 2011.

7. Mercy Corps

Founded: 1979

Headquarters: Portland, Ore.

CEO: Neal Keny-Guyer

USAID grant funding: $116.7 million

Since its founding, Mercy Corps has provided $2.2 billion in relief and development assistance to people in 114 countries. Mercy Corps’ programming spans a wide range of sectors including agriculture, education, emergency response, health, and women and gender.

8. International Relief and Development

Founded: 1998

Headquarters: Arlington, Va.

President and CEO: Arthur B. Keys Jr.

USAID grant funding: $108.9 million

Specializing in conflict and post-conflict environments, International Relief and Development has delivered $3 billion in development assistance over the past 15 years. With a presence in 42 countries, IRD implements programming in six areas: infrastructure, civil society and governance, conflict mitigation, emergency response, food and agriculture, and health and hygiene.

9. Pact

Founded: 1971

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

President and CEO: Mark Viso

USAID grant funding: $99.4 million

Operating in more than 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, Pact works with its 1,000 local partners to empower communities, effective governments and responsible private institutions. Pact’s programs focus on governance, health, economic development and natural resource management.

10. PSI

Founded: 1970

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

President and CEO: Karl Hofmann

USAID grant funding: $92.1 million

Counting more than 8,000 staff, PSI implements programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV and reproductive health in 69 countries. In 2011, PSI was named a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator.

11. Johns Hopkins University

Headquarters: Baltimore, Md

USAID grant funding: $88.8 million


Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

USAID grant funding: $87 million

13. University Research Co.

Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.

USAID grant funding: $86.7 million

14. JSI Research and Training Institute

Headquarters: Boston, Mass.

USAID grant funding: $85.4 million

15. Intrahealth International

Headquarters: Chapel Hill, N.C.

USAID grant funding: $80.5 million

16. Global Communities (formerly CHF International)

Headquarters: SilverSpring, Md.

USAID grant funding: $78.5 million

17. Education Development Center

Headquarters: Newton, Mass.

USAID grant funding: $64.8 million

18. Abt Associates

Headquarters: Cambridge, Mass.

USAID grant funding: $64.6 million

19. The Asia Foundation

Headquarters: San Francisco, Calif.

USAID grant funding: $56.6 million

20. Counterpart International

Headquarters: Arlington, Va.

USAID grant funding: $53.4 million

Read more:

Did we forget to include any major global development institution on this list? Let us know by placing your comment below. Join the Devex community and access more in-depth analysis, breaking news and business advice — and a host of other services — on international development, humanitarian aid and global health.

About the author

Lorenzo Piccio

Lorenzo is a Devex senior analyst based in Manila. Our resident budget cruncher, Lorenzo spearheads Devex's in-depth reporting and analysis on global development finance and policy. He attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut on the Freeman Asian Scholarship, earning degrees in Government and Social Studies.

Join the Discussion