2011 was the 50th anniversary of the Alliance for Progress--a milestone recently celebrated by President Obama during his March trip to Latin America. What not everyone knows is that Partners of the Americas was founded in 1964 as the people-to-people component of the Alliance for Progress.
The idea behind Partners came from a foreign service officer named Jim Boren, who was stationed in Perú, and was searching for a way to institutionalize small projects, such as digging wells in remote communities or fixing battered roads. Boren often contacted groups in his native Texas to help fund some of the endeavors he oversaw. The Peruvian counterparts would then reciprocate in some fashion. Boren, who was nearing the end of his service, had hoped that people would not merely feel like recipients, but participants, too. He believed that the foundation of any successful working partnership was not in varied funding sources, but instead, in the people involved. People like people, he thought – and that is timeless.
Boren’s vision eventually translated into the Partners of the Alliance, which was established as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was part of a staff of five that worked to unite volunteers in U.S. states with their counterparts in countries or regions of Latin America.
Soon after its founding, Partners of the Alliance shifted to the private sector and changed its name to Partners of the Americas. In the following years, Partners expanded into the Caribbean.
Partners has grown from an organization that sent seeds to farmers in Bolivia to one that carries out multi-year projects with lasting impact on communities. Today, our work covers areas as diverse as agriculture, cultural and educational exchange, domestic violence prevention, social inclusion and youth. Each year, our projects and activities touch the lives of more than 200,000 people in the Western Hemisphere. While much of our endeavors are supported with federal funds, our efforts would not be possible without the generous contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations that recognize the value of strengthening alliances between the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean.