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Civil Society
Paragraphs Related to the Theme Paragraphs VII Summit

- Antigua and Barbuda - Argentina - Bahamas - Barbados - Belize - Bolivia - Brazil - Canada - Chile - Colombia - Costa Rica - Dominica - Dominican Republic - Ecuador - El Salvador - Grenada - Guatemala - Guyana - Haiti - Honduras - Jamaica - Mexico - Nicaragua - Panama - Paraguay - Peru - Saint Kitts and Nevis - Saint Lucia - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Suriname - Trinidad and Tobago - United States - Uruguay - Venezuela -
Date:  7/7/2016 
Civil Society Council for the Summit of the Americas
The U.S. Department of State provided a nearly $1 million grant in 2015 to empower civil society to establish and implement a formal mechanism for civil society participation in the Summit of the Americas process. The mechanism will 1) initiate and facilitate a robust forum for civil society from across the region; 2) coordinate and lead formal engagement with leaders at the Summits of the Americas, in consultation with the host government; 3) formally submit input to the host government and the Summit Implementation Review Group; and 4) monitor stakeholder Summit commitments. The grantee, Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe por la Democracia (REDLAD), is currently working with a consortium of civil society organizations from Peru, El Salvador, Paraguay, and Haiti to hold consultations with civil society representatives from throughout the region and establish a framework for a civil society council, known as PASCA (Participacion de la Sociedad Civil en la Cumbre de las Americas).

Civil Society Hubs

As part of President Obama’s Stand with Civil Society Initiative, USAID has partnered with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and other donors to support the Civil Society Innovation Initiative (CSII). CSII is supporting the development of six hubs around the world – both physical and virtual – to aid civil society organizations operating in difficult environments or experimenting with innovative approaches to public policy issues. USAID expects one hub in the Americas to launch by September 2016. The exact location has not yet been determined, but its services will be open to organizations throughout the region.

The Global Equality Fund

In December 2011, the United States launched the Global Equality Fund to support civil society organizations working to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons. The Global Equality Fund is a multi-stakeholder platform bridging like-minded governments, foundations, and corporations. The Fund leverages resources from the U.S. government, other governments, and private donors. The Fund also provides emergency assistance to LGBTI human rights defenders and civil society organizations who find themselves under threat from state or non-state actors.

In 2014, Chile became the first government from South America to join the Fund as a partner, followed by Uruguay in 2015, and Argentina in 2016. The Global Equality Fund supports programs that promote and protect the human rights of LGBTI persons, to include efforts that respond to and prevent hate crimes and bias-motivated violence, increase access to justice for
LGBTI persons; educate and train justice sector personnel, raise rights awareness, reduce stigma in healthcare contexts, and document human rights abuses in support of data-driven advocacy initiatives.

Building Constituencies for Democracy

The U.S. government provides in-depth training and tailored technical assistance to civil society organizations in the Americas to build the capacity of strategically targeted civil society actors. These civil society actors are capable of influencing a strong grassroots base and public policies that protect democracy and human rights, bring selected civil society actors in the region together to learn from each other’s expertise through peer-to-peer coaching, and identify and remove barriers to collective action.

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Date:  7/7/2016 
Supporting Marginalized Groups and the Practice of Democracy

U.S. efforts have directly benefitted more than 300,000 people in poor and marginalized communities in 20 countries throughout the Americas through Inter-American Foundation grants active in fiscal year 2015. In preparation for the Civil Society Forum at the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama, the IAF provided the U.S. Department of State with a report prepared by 43 representatives of IAF grantee partners on their lessons and recommendations regarding civil society involvement in social protection programs in Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Paraguay, and Peru. The IAF sponsored the participation of 13 grantee partners in the Civil Society Forum, which brought together civil society representatives from 32 countries to develop recommendations to leaders based on six Summit sub-themes: democratic governance, citizen participation, education, health, energy and environment, and migration and security. Two IAF grantee representatives were among the 15 civil society members selected to participate in a private roundtable discussion with President Obama, Costa Rican President Solis, and Uruguayan President Vazquez.

The United States also is working with bilateral partners to reduce racial and ethnic discrimination through the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (Joint Action Plan) and the U.S.-Colombia Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality (CAPREE). Both initiatives seek to share best practices in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health, environmental justice, education, economic opportunities, and access to the justice system. U.S. embassies in the Western Hemisphere also commemorated the first year of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). Activities included hosting political dialogues, publishing op-eds and social media content, developing speaker programs and exchange programs, and engaging with civil society as well as with African descendent entrepreneurs and professional associations.

In support of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity under the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a partnership with the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Brazil Ministry of Health, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to host a series of collaborative events in 2015. Activities included a webinar series on medical education, health disparities, and racial and ethnic health issues as well as presentations and discussions during the 2015 PAHO Regional Meeting on Ethnicity and Health.

The Department of State works closely with the Colombian government to support the U.S.- Colombia Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality (CAPREE). At the third CAPREE steering committee meeting in Bogota in 2015, five working groups discussed the challenges faced by people of African descent and indigenous peoples in both countries. Colombia’s Ministry of Interior hosted CAPREE’s second plenary April 6 and 7, 2016, in Cali, Colombia, with approximately 250 government, private sector, and civil society representatives from the United States and Colombia. The plenary was a visible example of our binational commitment to improve social inclusion within our societies and better connect Afro-Colombian and indigenous civil society representatives to share common challenges and best practices. In support of CAPREE, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, in partnership with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), hosted the 2015 African-American Culture Series, a six-month campaign of cultural programs.

In addition to the activities undertaken under the auspices of CAPREE, U.S. Embassy Bogota engaged women and LGBTI communities. The Embassy coordinated with a leading activist on women’s rights to create a video in honor of International Women’s Month and hosted an
Olympic softball player, elevating Post’s sports diplomacy as a tool for conflict resolution and women’s empowerment. Through the Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas
(WEAmericas) initiative, the Embassy launched WEConnect International in Colombia, linking women-owned and women-run businesses with multinational corporations. USAID supported the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) to empower emerging women leaders to become conflict mediators in their respective regions. Embassy engagement with the LGBTI community has largely focused on USAID support for the Colombian LGBTI Chamber of Commerce, which currently has a presence in six cities across Colombia and over 150 members. The organization hosts a series of events throughout the year, including quarterly regional expos to activate LGBTI leadership; promote employability skills for LGBTI people and provide access to quality jobs; and promote entrepreneurship by providing the necessary tools, methodology, and support.

Observance of the United Nations’ 2015-2024 International Decade for People of African
Descent is a priority for the United States, as it supports U.S. foreign policy objectives in the Americas, including the promotion of social and economic opportunity, social equity, and the human rights of historically marginalized populations. The Department of State is working to generate awareness of the diverse heritage, unique challenges, and contributions made by people of African descent, including African-American, Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and African-Canadian communities through activities focused on economic empowerment, political participation, civil society engagement and strengthening, government-to government dialogue on inclusion and equality, education and cultural exchanges, engagement with law enforcement and the justice sector, and public support for human rights.

Examples of activities carried out by U.S. embassies in the Americas included:
•?Embassy Lima hosted a delegation of U.S. Census Bureau experts to share the U.S. experience on collecting and analyzing race and ethnicity census data with key stakeholders;
•?Embassy Paramaribo hosted a film screening of 12 Years A Slave at the American
Corner to commemorate the U.S. celebration of abolition Juneteenth and the Surinamese Keti Koti celebration (Chains are Cut);
•?Embassy Mexico City collaborated with the National Council to Prevent Discrimination
(CONAPRED) on the first-ever conference of leaders from the Afro-Mexican community focused on advancing human rights and addressing challenges and opportunities;
•?Embassy Tegucigalpa developed a year-long strategy for increased engagement with
•?Various U.S. embassies developed speaker programs and exchange programs; created internal antidiscrimination working groups; hosted political dialogues; collaborated with multilateral agencies; engaged with civil society as well as with African descendent entrepreneurs and professional associations; or published op-eds and social media content.

Americas Partnership for Social Inclusion and Equality (APSIE)

The Americas Partnership for Social Inclusion and Equality (APSIE) aims to raise visibility of and provide support for social inclusion efforts in the region, building on lessons learned from civil society. As part of APSIE, the U.S. government supports historically marginalized groups in the Western Hemisphere, including LGBTI persons, women and girls, people of African descent, indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities, through technical assistance, training, and education. The United States invested nearly $1.8 million and leveraged over $1.9 million to fund projects that build the capacity of vulnerable groups to access economic and educational opportunities and to promote inclusive practices and civic engagement through eight projects in five countries (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru).
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Date:  6/2/2014 
Innovation Fund for the Americas (IFA)
- At the conclusion of the Sixth Summit of the Americas, President Obama announced the Innovation Fund for the Americas (IFA) to invest in the world’s most cost-effective, breakthrough solutions to development challenges. The IFA supports solutions to environmental vulnerability, citizen insecurity, at-risk youth, poor quality education, weak governance, uncompetitive SMEs, and Haiti’s reconstruction.
- Through the IFA, the United States makes awards ranging from $100,000 to $15 million on a rolling basis, tapping into the best development ideas coming from non-traditional partners in academia, the private sector, and civil society.
- To date, IFA has awarded 11 innovation grants, totaling $1.5 million, to discover and test development solutions in Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, and Peru.

Citizen-Led Grassroots Initiatives
- Through the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), the United States identifies and invests directly in the most promising initiatives designed and implemented by marginalized communities in Latin America and the Caribbean to help their communities thrive. The U.S. government invests in the knowledge, skills, ingenuity, and organizational strength of local citizens to facilitate the success of their projects. In addition to the external results of such projects, local communities gain invaluable experience in project management, business development, and organizational governance. This substantially improves their ability to sustain their own efforts beyond U.S. support and to the strengthening of civil society.
- The United States requires grantee partners to invest their own resources and mobilize contributions from others, helping to multiply the effect of U.S. government funding. On average over the last five years, each dollar invested by the United States leveraged $1.30 from grantee partners or others. In fiscal years 2009-2013, grantee partners committed $100.9 million in cash or in kind, more than matching the United States’ investment of $77.8 million. Over the past five years, the United States has funded the initiatives of more than 400 civil society organizations.
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