It’s long past time to reimagine and reshape the U.S. approach to global development and build a new model fit for the 21st century. International systems largely built in the aftermath of World War II cannot keep up with the many interconnected challenges we face. 

Tell Congress to Pass the Global Innovation Agenda

The United States is the world’s largest funder for global development, spending $60 billion every year to help other countries do things like adapt to a changing climate and build stronger health and education systems. But most of that money goes right into the pockets of the post World War II-era “aid industrial complex,” which has a spotty record of achievement at best. Too often, this funding causes more harm than good.

Our public institutions do not operate with the urgency, flexibility, and innovation needed to solve the hardest problems of our time. Established systems perpetuate the status quo and underutilize high impact technologies and strategies that have enormous potential to address inequities and improve outcomes. Local communities everywhere are too often kept from accessing the funding they need, while entrenched special interests continue to reap billions. We need changes now.

Recognizing the critical window of opportunity in the final year of the Biden-Harris Administration and the 118th Congress, now is the time to restructure the U.S. approach to global development. 

Global Innovation Agenda Priorities:

1. Pass a flagship Global Innovation and Prosperity Act to build the system of tomorrow

We need a new global development system for the 21st century.

While the U.S. should continue to meet humanitarian, human rights and democracy needs, the vast majority of the rest of the U.S.’s longer-term development assistance should flow through new models.

Specifically, a new approach would transform way the U.S. invests globally to make sustainable and inclusive economic growth, direct investment in local communities, and innovation, not aid, the basis of our relationship with hundreds of nations and communities around the world.

Read a one-page fact sheet about what a Global Innovation and Prosperity Act could accomplish.
Read an illustrative bill text and summary.

  • Prioritize sustainable economic growth
    The U.S. should make investments in sustainable and inclusive economic growth and mutually-beneficial trade, not aid, the basis of our relationship with hundreds of nations around the world, seeding new industries and opportunities we cannot yet imagine. A growing body of evidence shows that investing along these lines does more to boost human and social development outcomes than one-off aid projects.

  • Leverage innovation to solve the world's hardest problems
    The U.S. should be a natural partner for any country that wants to leverage innovation and grow strategic sectors to advance their development priorities. For example, the U.S. could regularly sponsor competitions akin to Operation Warp Speed to incentivize industry investments to solve challenges where markets won’t otherwise act and scale up proven technologies and other innovations that solve the world’s hardest problems.

  • Use models that promote sustainability and country and community ownership
    The U.S. should change how it invests globally, too, moving rapidly away from fly-in, fly-out, project-based models that only benefits the aid industry, in favor of compacts, joint ventures, and direct investments that promote sustainability, cost sharing, and country- and community- ownership.

2. Pass reform legislation to improve the system we have today

Pass the Fostering Innovation in Global Development Act (FIGDA)
FIGDA would bridge the "Valley of Death" for innovation in global development by providing scale-up capital to the world's most cost-effective, replicable, and scalable solutions.
Link to one-page fact sheet.
Link to bill text.

Pass the Locally-Led Development and Humanitarian Response Act
This legislation would shift U.S. foreign aid resources out of Washington, DC to local communities, recognizing those closest to the problems are closest to the solutions.
Link to one-page fact sheet.
Link to bill text.

  • Create a USAID Accountability for Results Act
    This bill would put more sunlight on the aid industry to ensure more funding reaches its intended destination as well as create pay-for-results frameworks that enable impact investors and philanthropy to more easily co-invest with the U.S. government.
    Link to one-page fact sheet.

  • Enact Reforms Through Must-Pass Spending Bills
    As Congress passes legislation to fund the U.S. federal government, it should also use this must-pass legislation to enact other reforms to improve how the U.S. spends $60B annually.
    Read our spending requests for Congress.

Take Action

We need your help to put pressure on Congress to make these bills the law.
Click here to sign your name to a growing list of individuals and organizations who endorse the Global Innovation Agenda. We’ll be sharing the list of endorsing organizations with lawmakers who want big changes. They need to know that we have their back.


The below resources capture a number of recommendations Unlock Aid has developed since 2021 to change the way the United States invests more than $60 billion every year for global development.
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