Formerly IDEX

Thousand Currents changed its name
from IDEX - International Development Exchange in 2016.

We stand on the shoulders of many, 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

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

So banded together as a few like-minded people—those who wanted to build on grassroots wisdom and create an alternative to top-down development programs, 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 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. 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 explains:

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, now Thousand Currents, has remained committed to exchanging grassroots brilliance and aiming to build ever more equitable partnerships with grassroots leaders, organizations, and movements. 

Guided by lessons of the past, we honor our elders by 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