Who We Are

IdEA, the International diaspora Engagement Alliance, promotes and supports diaspora-centered initiatives in countries and regions of diaspora origin. IdEA is a non-partisan program that engages global diaspora communities, the private sector, civil society, and public institutions in collaborative efforts to support economic and social development. IdEA is a non-partisan, non-profit organization managed via a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Calvert Foundation.

What We Do

IdEA connects diaspora communities with opportunities to give back to their countries of origin or ancestry. IdEA’s activities are organized around four principal pillars: Investment & Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Volunteerism, and Philanthropy. IdEA, together with its partners, designs projects that reflect the goals of IdEA and allow diasporas to give back to their countries of origin or ancestry. Diasporas can find information about these projects, such as long-term volunteering opportunities, on the website and apply to participate.

Convene Partners: We facilitate networking opportunities for Diasporas, private sector, non-profit and government partners at IdEA meetings and conferences. Participants share experiences, develop concepts, and operationalize plans for projects that foster stronger diaspora engagement with countries of origin.

Mobilize Resources: Diasporas gain access to new resources through IdEA partnerships. IdEA connects diaspora members to business competitions such as the African Diaspora Marketplace and the Caribbean Idea Marketplace, implemented by IdEA partners.

Developing Capacity:  IdEA offers technical assistance and training for members of the diaspora who participate in IdEA programs. IdEA’s website makes it easy for Diasporas to keep up-to-date with the latest data and analysis about trends in diaspora engagement and opportunities for collaboration.

Implementing ProjectsIdEA, together with its partners, designs projects that reflect the goals of the Alliance. Diasporas can find information about these projects on the website and apply to participate.

What is a diaspora?

Diaspora means “to scatter” in Greek, but today we use the term to describe a community of people who live outside their shared country of origin or ancestry but maintain active connections with it. A diaspora includes both emigrants and their descendants. While some people lose their attachment to their ancestral homeland, others maintain a strong connection to a place which their ancestors may have left generations ago. Many Americans come from mixed heritage and therefore can claim membership in multiple diaspora communities.

Many diaspora groups are working to achieve greater impact and a stronger voice in matters that relate to their countries of origin. Diaspora communities make vital but often unrecognized contributions to the progress of their countries of origin or ancestry. They share goals with governments, businesses, and NGOs, including:

  • Broad-based economic growth;
  • Thriving civil society;
  • Widespread participation in good governance;
  • Access to global markets for skills and financial capital;
  • Robust trading partnerships;
  • Growing participation in science, technology and communication innovations.

The Opportunity

Over the last 45 years, the number of people living out side their country of origin has almost tripled – from 76 million to more than 232 million.  More than 3 percent of the world’s population now lives outside of the country that they were born in; if migrants made up a single nation, they would be the 5th largest in the world.

Migration is the defining trend of our world today. Yet even as people spread father apart, technological advances have created low-cost means of communication and transportation that bind them more closely together. As The Economist notes in their article “Weaving the World Together” diasporas are now connected “instantaneously, continuously, dynamically and intimately to their communities of origin.”  And as Diasporas grow, their networks expand and intertwine, linking the world together; “No other social networks offer the same global reach—or commercial opportunity.”

The United States has the largest number of global diasporas members of any country in the world; more than 62 million people are first or second generation immigrants. Indeed, virtually all Americans have immigrant roots – and these roots are a quintessential part of our national narrative.   The diplomatic and developmental potential influence of diasporas is tremendous.