U.S. Agency for International Development announces funding for Cuso International diaspora volunteer project

OTTAWA, July 25, 2012 /CNW/ - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that Cuso International will be awarded funding to support the recruitment of American professionals from diaspora communities to volunteer overseas to combat poverty. Speaking at the meeting of the Global Diaspora Forum in Washington DC, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the new "Diasporas for Development" partnership with Cuso International and Accenture USA, as part of a broader initiative to engage American diaspora to combat poverty overseas.

The Diasporas for Development project, costing just over $1-million, will be co-funded by Accenture U.S.A. and USAID. Skilled professionals are to be recruited over the next three years from American diaspora communities. The volunteers will share their skills in Ethiopia, the Philippines, Bolivia, El Salvador and Jamaica.

Cuso International recruits volunteers from the US as well as Canada, and offers volunteering opportunities to diaspora communities in North America. The organization wants to help people offer their skills in their countries of birth or heritage.

USAID and Accenture recognize this approach as an important contribution to development, and are supporting Cuso's diaspora work.

"We are proud to partner with Accenture and Cuso International to bring skilled diaspora volunteers back to their countries of origin in an effort to catalyze economic development and social change," stated Dr. Maura O'Neill, Chief Innovation Counselor and Director of the Office of Innovation and Development Alliances at USAID. "Through this partnership, we hope to start addressing the pervasive 'brain drain' affecting many developing countries by encouraging diaspora volunteerism to help build the capacity of local organizations on the ground."

Diaspora volunteering has been a key part of Cuso International's program in Canada for a number of years. "We believe it's a cornerstone of an innovative, impactful and sustainable 21st century volunteering movement," says Derek Evans, Executive Director of Cuso International. "And we know it is effective - diaspora volunteers bring not just professional skills, but also a deep cultural understanding and commitment to their development work."

The volunteers will work with local organizations to support skills development, job training and entrepreneurship.

As examples, volunteers in the Philippines will be working with agricultural cooperatives to support product and marketing development, in Ethiopia health professionals will support the training of the next generation of health workers, and small business development advisors will share their skills with young entrepreneurs in Jamaica, Bolivia and El Salvador.

The US government support was announced at the Global Diaspora Forum in Washington DC. The annual Forum is hosted by the Department of State and helps diaspora communities forge development partnerships with the private sector, civil society and public institutions. "We are grateful to USAID and Accenture for their support of our program, and we're excited to partner with the experience and expertise of US diaspora communities," says Cuso International's Derek Evans.

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company with nearly 250,000 employees worldwide. They have been working with Cuso International since 2002. Their employee volunteering program allows staff to take a leave of absence to share skills overseas.

Cuso International is a development organization that works to reduce poverty through the efforts of volunteers. Our volunteers collaborate with local partner groups on projects in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Founded in 1961, we are one of North America's largest international volunteer-sending non-profits. Cuso International is based in Ottawa.

Image with caption: "With Dire Dawa University in the background, Ethiopian diaspora volunteer Yared Ayele (left), stands with colleague Bisrat Ayelew during the installation of a network access point antenna. (CNW Group/CUSO International)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120725_C9964_PHOTO_EN_16380.jpg

SOURCE: CUSO International

For further information:

If you would like to talk to a media spokesperson about this project, please contact:

Sean Kelly, Head of Communications and Media
Tel: (902) 293-7790
Email: media@cusointernational.org

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