peace project

First MEPPA award grants announced as board fills out

Kevin McCarthy selected Dina Powell McCormick for a slot on the Partnership for Peace Fund’s board earlier this week

Sipa via AP Images

Samantha Power administrator of USAID addresses representatives of civil society organizations.

The U.S. Agency for International Development announced the first funding grants on Tuesday from the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, a new funding mechanism approved last year by Congress to provide funding for joint Israeli-Palestinian business ventures and people-to-people projects.

The first awards, announced in Jerusalem yesterday by USAID Deputy administrator Isobel Coleman, will provide $3.3 million over four years to provide training, funding and mentorship opportunities to established and aspiring businesswomen, as well as $2.2 million over three years to support small and medium business enterprises and their leaders.

The latter grant aims to build Israeli-Palestinian business partnerships and support Palestinian and Israeli trade associations.

Also on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced his selection of Dina Powell McCormick, a former deputy national security advisor to former President Donald Trump, for the 15-member board that advises the fund, which has been filled out over the course of the past several months.

The board is chaired by George Salem, the co-founder of the Arab American Institute who filled roles in the Reagan and Bush administrations and served as a foreign policy advisor to Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) presidential campaign.

The other members of the board, who have been announced over the course of the past eight months, are former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), New York City Central Synagogue Rabbi Angela Buchdal, longtime GOP foreign policy advisor Elliott Abrams, environmental activist Rabbi Michael Cohen, Israel Education Association founder Heather Johnston, former AIPAC National Council member Harley Lippman, Taylor Force Act architect and businessman Sander Gerber, Palestinian attorney Hiba Husseini, former ambassador and USAID administrator Mark Green, former Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and former Defense Department official Jen Stewart.

The bill was spearheaded by Lowey and named in her honor.

Members of House and Senate leadership, as well as the chairs and ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House and Senate Appropriations Committees, each received one pick for the advisory board. Salem was picked by USAID administration Samantha Power. 

Power has yet to fill the two remaining slots on the board, set aside for representatives of foreign governments or international organizations.

MEPPA’s Partnership for Peace Fund is set to provide a total of $250 million over five years — doled out in $50 million each year. In the 2022 appropriations bill announced Wednesday, Congress provided the full $50 million in funding for the program for 2022.