Formerly IDEX

Thousand Currents changed its name
from IDEX in 2016, yet we stand
on the shoulders of many.

We honor our elders, offering our gratitude for all those who came before us.

"IDEX is and has always been about two things:
supporting communities to determine their own destinies and learning."

–Paul Strasburg, Thousand Currents donor and IDEX co-founder

In 1985, IDEX was born out of a group of ex-Peace Corps members and volunteers frustrated by the poverty reduction strategies they saw imposed on communities in the Global South. After witnessing the potential of locally led initiatives, IDEX’s founders envisioned a world where grassroots leaders most affected by the world’s greatest challenges led the efforts to build healthy and sustainable communities.

So founders banded together a few like-minded people—those who wanted to build on grassroots wisdom and create an alternative to top-down development programs—and they made IDEX’s first grants to completely volunteer-run projects in the Global South. From its humble beginning, IDEX strove to ignite a cultural change in how U.S. citizens relate to the Global South and to be honest about and learn from the inevitable mistakes that occur in relationships set up for social good.

Within five years, IDEX grew to an organization with three full-time staff and a strong base of dedicated volunteers. As IDEX began receiving requests to support grassroots organizations, the organization found itself at a crossroads. As an organization “committed to the direct project-assistance model,” what would it mean to support community self-determination by funding grassroots organizations instead of projects?

Thanks to the courage of those early IDEX-ers and co-founder, Paul Strasburg, IDEX pivoted its approach and strategies to address the root causes of inequity. In the 1990s, IDEX moved toward long-term partnerships and general support grants, approaches Thousand Currents continues today. Paul explain:

The entire context of the work I had chosen to do was ever-expanding. I began to understand more deeply the role played by colonial history, concentration of economic power, and the decisions of governments and institutions in the suffering of poor communities at home and around the world. … I couldn’t ignore what I had learned.

Keeping to a trajectory marked by continual learning, growing, and reflection—while always centering the voices of leaders of the Global South—IDEX has stayed committed to exchanging grassroots brilliance and aiming to build ever more equitable partnerships.

Guided by lessons of the past, we have embraced a new iteration with our identity as Thousand Currents: celebrating the potential and power in the multitude when small and yet formidable pockets of people power come together. Thousand Currents is:

[T]he idea that there are so many of us all over the world working on justice. We are willing to demand what is needed because we are all in this together.

– Desmond D’Sa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, long-term IDEX and Thousand Currents partner