USAID Grants and Cooperative Agreements: A Comprehensive Guide

As a global leader in international development, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. One of the most significant ways USAID accomplishes this goal is through grant and cooperative agreement programs.

Both grants and cooperative agreements are contractual vehicles that allow USAID to work with organizations to achieve specific development objectives. However, there are some key differences between the two, and understanding these differences can help organizations determine which option is best for them.


Grants are non-repayable funds awarded by USAID to support an organization`s programmatic objectives. Grants are typically awarded through a competitive application process, and organizations are required to meet specific eligibility criteria and submit a comprehensive proposal outlining their goals, activities, expected outcomes, and budget.

USAID grants can support a wide range of activities, from providing essential services to vulnerable populations to promoting economic growth and environmental conservation. Grants are designed to achieve specific development goals and are typically awarded for a period of one to five years.

Cooperative Agreements

Cooperative agreements, on the other hand, are a type of assistance agreement that requires significant involvement and collaboration between USAID and the recipient organization. Unlike grants, cooperative agreements involve a high level of programmatic involvement by USAID, and the agency often provides technical assistance and guidance throughout the project.

Cooperative agreements are awarded to organizations that have a track record of success in implementing similar projects and have the capacity to manage complex programs. USAID typically uses cooperative agreements when the agency wants to collaborate more closely with the recipient organization or when a high degree of oversight and input is required to ensure the project`s success.

Which Option is Best for Your Organization?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the decision to apply for either a grant or a cooperative agreement will depend on the specific goals and objectives of your organization`s project. However, there are some general guidelines to consider.

If your organization has a clear programmatic goal and the capacity to implement the project independently, a grant might be the best option. If your organization needs more support and guidance from USAID, or if the project requires a high level of collaboration and input from the agency, a cooperative agreement might be a better fit.

Regardless of which option you choose, a successful USAID project will require a strong partnership between your organization and the agency. This partnership should be based on clear communication, collaboration, and a shared commitment to achieving the project`s objectives.

In Conclusion

USAID grants and cooperative agreements are critical tools for promoting international development and ending extreme poverty. By understanding the differences between these two options and carefully considering the specific needs of your organization`s project, you can make an informed decision about which option to pursue. With a strong partnership with USAID and a commitment to achieving your project`s goals, you can make a meaningful impact on communities in need around the world.