localworks* seeks to invest in the creativity and resourcefulness of local communities, enabling them to drive their own development. 

localworks selects three to five USAID missions per year to carry out the program. Missions partner with local resource organizations that can provide the support that other local organizations need. We call this a "wholesale approach." Instead of directly funding many different local organizations, missions work with a few capable local resource organizations that command trust and respect among other local organizations. Missions help these resource organizations reach out to and support other local organizations. 

In turn, the local organizations supported by resource organizations empower and support communities to mobilize resources and work together to achieve their goals. This is the core of localworks: encouraging partner organizations to support communities in creating their own solutions. 

We envision that as as result of localworks, local organizations will come together to address the needs of their communities, and that the needs, aspirations, and hopes of local people will drive development. 

Some of the ways in which we will be able to see that the localworks approach is successful are:

  • Enhanced ability of communities to drive their own development
  • Local resource organizations improve outreach to local organizations that need their services
  • Local organizations have increased access to high quality support that is tailored to their needs
  • Shifts in centers of influence from USAID missions and international organizations to local organizations
  • Stronger trust and cooperation within communities and among local organizations
  • Increased mobilization of local resources for local community priorities, including expansion of domestic philanthropy
  • Increased positive feedback from local communities on the role and performance of local organizations

Our Principles

Let local actors drive the agenda
Local capacity exists in communities, the private sector, universities, and individuals. Local ownership, initiative, approach and control is fundamental to lasting change. Support local resources. Encourage local expertise. Respect local knowledge and capacity. Encourage local initiative to meet challenges or seize opportunities.

Focus on wholesale
localworks is not about giving one-off grants to individual organizations. Instead, focus on supporting local resource organizations that have financial, organizational, technical, and human resources that other organizations and communities can draw on. By working with these kinds of organizations, we will be able to reach more communities and create greater systemic change.

In order to find the right local resource organizations to work with, it's crucial to listen to a broad cross-section of people, whether residents of slum communities, local NGO leaders, or village chiefs. It is important to build relationships with the people we're serving and listen to what they're saying, not just during a formal consultation at the start of a program, but throughout. Listen to understand local priorities. Listen to validate decisions. Listen to judge how well things are going. Listen because it opens windows to new ideas.

Be patient
Listening takes time. Understanding relationships and systems takes time. Building mutual respect and trust takes time. Change takes time. Take the time to listen, to understand what you hear, to build relationships, to encourage change.

Use a systems lens
Problems and opportunities exist in a context. A systems lens helps identify the relevant individuals and entities, how they interact, and the dynamics that influence and govern the system.

localworks is an opportunity to experiment and explore. It is a complex challenge with no clear, defined roadmap. We want failures to become learning opportunities and we encourage you to try new and unconventional approaches. Get creative and take full advantage of the localworks opportunity.

Learn & Share
Change is seldom linear: circumstances change; new ideas emerge; old assumptions prove wrong. Experiment. Learn. Revise. Build feedback loops into what you do. Document your experience. And share what you learn so we can all benefit. There is a great deal for us to learn.

Unique Elements

Discretionary funds
Missions do not need to use localworks money for a specific sector. If there's a locally identified priority that doesn't fit into an existing USAID sector or the mission's strategy, money may still be used for it.

Human resources support
We know missions have a lot going on, and we know localworks is going to be a lot of work. To help, missions may use localworks funds to hire local staff.

Dedicated five-year funds
Development takes time. localworks has five year funds that missions may potentially spend over a longer period when obligated into a bilateral agreement.

Collaborative reporting
locaworks DC and partner missions will work together to find the best ways to track progress and share lessons learned.

Room for creativity
Development doesn't follow a blueprint. localworks is a chance for missions to try new things and take an iterative approach to program design.

Any questions? Shoot us an email:
localworks [at] usaid [dot] gov


*In Section 7080 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235), localworks replaces the Development Grants Program and is referred to as the Small Grants Program.