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When the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was created, it brought together several existing foreign assistance organizations and programs. Until then, there had never been a single agency charged with foreign economic development, so with the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 by Congress, U.S. foreign assistance activities underwent a major transformation.

Leading this transformation was President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy recognized the need to unite development into a single agency responsible for administering aid to foreign countries to promote social and economic development. On November 3, 1961, USAID was born and with it a spirit of progress and innovation. November 3, 2011 marked USAID's 50th Anniversary of providing U.S. foreign development assistance From the American People. Our workforce and USAID's culture continues to serve as a reflection of core American values--values that are rooted in a belief for doing the right thing.

The modern-day concept of international development assistance took shape after World War II ended in 1945. George C. Marshall, the Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949 provided significant financial and technical assistance to Europe after the war. Famously known as the Marshall Plan, this was a successful effort that allowed Europe to rebuild its infrastructure, strengthen its economy, and stabilize the region.

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