America’s Development Foundation
Last updated: January 5, 1991
Published by the International Relations Center / Interhemispheric Resource Center.
America’s Development Foundation
Background: America’s Development Foundation (ADF) was established in 1980 as a tax-exempt charitable foundation for the "support, operation, or advancement of scientific, educational, social, and economic development" in countries around the world. (1) Its articles of incorporation state that it "shall be perpetually and unqualifiedly non-governmental, nonpolitical, and non-partisan."(1) Despite its nonpolitical disclaimer, ADF’s development projects have been financially supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), organizations funded by Congress and supportive of U.S. foreign policy. (6,9)
ADF has been involved in a number of development projects including food distribution, civic education, technical training, resource assessment and development, and agricultural programs. Prior to 1988, ADF focused on projects that helped people in third world nations feed themselves, through improved nutrition and increased agricultural production. In these projects ADF worked with U.S. PL 480 and Section 416 food assistance programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). (9)
In late 1987, ADF programs made a fairly abrupt shift in focus from agricultural and community development to voter education and provision of technical assistance to ensure "democratic" elections in thrid world nations. These electoral projects were funded by the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy, a "democracy-building" organization established in 1983. Although NED is a private group, its funding comes from the U.S. government. (6)
Since its incorporation, ADF has been active in many "hot spots" of U.S. foreign policy, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Philippines. (2)
Funding: In 1985, ADF received $88,492 in private grants and contributions and $114,040 in private contributions in kind. In 1986, it received $126,816 in private grants and contributions and $855,844 in in-kind contributions. (2) Sources of revenue in 1986 were: $66,255–U.S. government excess property; $672,789–donated supplies and equipment; $126,816–private contributions; and $13,370–private revenue. (9)
Sources of revenue in 1987 were: $1,771–AID Freight; $11,001–U.S. government excess property; $183,979–donated supplies and equipment; $198,402–private contributions; and $76,159–private revenue. (13)
Between 1988 and 1989, ADF received $605,860 in grants from the National Endowment for Democracy for projects and organizations opposing the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. (5) A portion of that was a $247,500 grant for civic education and training work with the Costa Rican Counseling Center for Democracy. (14)
In 1987, ADF received $110,000 for a project in Haiti with the Haitian International Institute for Research and Development. (10) The following year NED gave ADF $110,000 to continue its work in Haiti and $54,360 for communications and networking projects with the Nicaraguan political opposition. (6)
Activities: Over the past decade ADF has conducted programs in democracy and development in a wide range of countries. In its democracy-building programs it has supported research, seminars, conferences, civic groups, technical assistance for conducting elections and opinion polling, and civic education. Its food production and agriculture programs have included projects in fisheries development, livestock, seed development, and material resources. (2)
ADF moved into Haiti in 1987 with a substantial NED grant to work with the Haitian International Institute for Research and Development in its program, the "Forum for Democracy and Development."(10) The aim of the program was to bring together representatives from diverse political sectors in Haiti for discussions on the future of Haitian democracy. (10) This program continued in 1988. (6)
ADF received a 1990 grant from net for electoral education work in Haiti. Under terms of the grant ADF was to provide assistance to five civic groups working to educate Haitians about their upcoming election and encourage their participation. The civic groups were: the Insititute for Haitian Research and Development, the Human Resources Development Center, Celebration 2004, the Association of Haitian Journalists, and the Haitian Center for Human Rights. (15)
ADF received over $300,000 in 1988 and 1989 in grants directly from NED and through the National Republican Institute for International Affairs (NRI)–the Republican party’s conduit for NED funding–for electoral training work with the Centro de Asesoria para la Democracia (Counseling Center for Democracy) (CAD). (3) CAD is a Costa Rican political/electoral training firm created through a 1988 NED grant to improve communications and coordination among and within the organizations of the U.S. backed Nicaraguan opposition. (5,11) Prior to the elections in Nicaragua, CAD carried on some of its Nicaraguan electoral work through its project, SISTEMAS. SISTEMAS produced election analyses and demographics data; conducted opinion polls and surveys; held electoral training workshops; operated a "hot line" for updated electoral information; and planned to watch the polls on election day. (4,7) Its Nicaragua program included the design and production of election-related promotional materials to be distributed by Via Civica, a Nicaraguan civic education group which claimed to be "nonpartisan," but was (and is) closely associated with the National Opposition Union (UNO). UNO is the U.S.-backed coalition of political parties which successfully opposed the Sandinistas in the 1990 elections, winning the presidency and the majority of seats in the National Assembly. (4,7) Via Civica received NED funding through ADF. (5)
ADF also funded three other groups that worked with SISTEMAS: the Nicaraguan Women’s Movement (MMN), the Center for Youth Training (CEFOJ), and the Confederation of Trade Union Unity (CUS). (5) MMN and CEFOJ are run by leaders of the recently formed National Confidence Democratic Party, a member of the UNO coalition. (7) CUS is an anti-Sandinista union organization backed by the AFL-CIO’s Latin American arm, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD). (5) AIFLD is heavily funded by AID and NED and is well known as an implementer of U.S. foreign policy in Central America. (8) It appears that ADF’s main role in these NED grants is to administer them and provide technical support "as necessary."(11)
ADF administered a 1990 NED grant given to the National Civic Crusade of Panama in support of its recently-formed Center for the Promotion of Democracy. (15)
Government Connections:Private Connections:Misc:Comments: A letter of June 1984 addressed to Sen. Ernest Hollings appealing for continued funding of NED by Congress
spoke about concerns expressed in Congress "with respect to (NED’s) electoral activities abroad…" The letter goes on to state,"Specifically, in response to Congressional concerns, the Board of Directors of the Endowment, at their meeting on June 8, adopted a resolution prohibiting the use of funds–either by NED or by any of its grantees–to finance the campaigns of candidates for public office."(12)
ADF has a similar proscription in Section 8-E of the articles of incorporation,"Nor shall the Corporation, directly or indirectly, participate in or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf or or in opposition to any candidate for public office."(1)
However, through ADF and other PVOs, NED sends millions of dollars of support to partisan political projects around the globe. (6,10) In its report of October 1989, Hemisphere Initiatives commented on this issue as it unfolded in Nicaragua,"Debates about funding often involve an attempt to distinguish between funds given to political parties or candidates and those to private Nicaraguan organizations such as business groups, trade unions and women’s groups closely identified with, if not controlled by, the internal opposition. But this distinction is based more on theory than reality. These private organizations use foreign funds for the same overall political purpose as opposition parties and candidates: to build support for defeating the Sandinistas."(5)
U.S. Address: 600 South Lee Street, Old Town, Alexandria,Virginia 22314
Principals: Officers listed on the incorporation papers of 1982 are Michael D. Miller, pres; Richard Salvatierra, tres; and Basilio Liacuris, sec. (1) Roy A. Harrell is or was the vice pres. (2) Directors listed include all of the officers and Jack Heller. (1)
Members of the initial board of trustees included the officers, directors, and John H. Bush. (1)
Sources:1. America’s Development Corporation, Application for a Certificate of Authority to Transact Business in Virginia, Sep 1982.
2. Interaction Member Profiles, Addendum, Nov 1987.
3. National Endowment for Democracy, "Programs of the Endowment and its Institutes in Nicaragua," received Oct 6, 1989.
4. National Republican Institute for International Affairs, "Grantee Record, Grant No 89-36. 1," July 31, 1989.
5. Hemisphere Initiatives, Nicaraguan Election Update #2, "Foreign Funding of the Internal Opposition," Oct 16, 1989.
6. National Endowment for Democracy, Annual Report, 1988.
7. Holly Sklar, "Washington Wants to Buy Nicaragua’s Elections Again," Z Magazine, Dec 1989.
8. Beth Sims, Workers of the World Undermined: American Labor and the Pursuit of U.S. Foreign Policy, (Boston: South End Press, forthcoming Fall 1991).
9. Agency for International Development, Report of American Voluntary Agencies Engaged in Overseas Relief and Development Registered with the Agency for International Development, 1985-1986.
10. National Endowment for Democracy, Annual Report, 1987.
11. Packet of proposals to the National Endowment for Democracy, regarding Nicaraguan projects, Dec 1988.
12. Letter to Sen. Ernest Hollings from John Richardson, June 11, 1984.
13. Agency for International Development, Report of American Voluntary Agencies Engaged in Overseas Relief and Development Registered with the Agency for International Development, 1986-1987.
14. National Endowment for Democracy, Annual Report, 1989.
15. National Endowment for Democracy bulletin, Vol 3, Fall 1990.