World Affairs Councils of America

WACA: The Largest International Affairs Non-Profit in the United States

World Affairs Councils of AmericaThe World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is a proud member of the World Affairs Councils of America. The World Affairs Councils of America (WACA) serves as the national office for the network of more than 90 member organizations in 40 states. All of these organizations are non-profit, non-partisan groups working to engage and educate Americans across the country about global affairs and foreign policy.

WACA is the largest nonpartisan, non-profit grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to educating and engaging the American public on global issues. It is estimated that over 500,000 people a year benefit from programs and activities organized by Councils throughout the network.

The World Affairs Councils of America has a rich history that stretches back some 90 years. Two groups, the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) and the World Affairs Councils, worked together in the same organizational system from 1918 until the early 1950s. The FPA was begun in the spring of 1918 by a small group of individuals who worked with President Woodrow Wilson that included journalist and social reformer Paul Kellogg, who also served as FPA’s first president. The founding members were concerned that at the end of World War I, Americans would choose an isolationist foreign policy over one of engagement and worked to nurture grassroots citizen involvement in international affairs. By 1947, these two groups operated as a national organization that was composed of a network of independent community councils. In 1986, the National Council of World Affairs Organizations national office was established in Washington, D.C. This office evolved into the World Affairs Councils of America.

WACA works to develop new program opportunities to distribute to member councils. This includes a variety of national program series, an annual national conference, five flagship programs, Leadership Missions to other countries, and other opportunities.

In addition to providing program opportunities, the WACA acts as the central hub for the council network, connecting councils with resources, opportunities, and of course, with each other. Councils often turn to the WACA for assistance with capacity building and organizational development. The WACA staff visit several councils every year and work hard to help councils accomplish their goals.