Address: Catholic Relief Services, 228 W. Lexington St., Baltimore, Maryland 21201-3443, USA
Phone: +1 877 435 7277 Fax: +1 410 234 2986
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In 1943, during World War II, the Catholic bishops of the United States founded Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to help war-torn Europe and its refugees recover from this great conflict. In the 1950s, with Europe back on its feet, the organization began to look to other parts of the world for people who could benefit from the help of American Catholics. Over the next twenty years, Catholic Relief Services expanded its operations and opened offices in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. During this expansion, CRS built on its tradition of providing emergency assistance and began to look for ways to help people in the developing world break the cycle of poverty through community-based sustainable development initiatives. 74 years later, CRS’s mission continues to focus on the world’s poorest, helping nearly 85 million people in more than 100 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

CRS emphasizes the empowerment of partners and beneficiaries in program selection. More than 93% of CRS’s budget is used for programs that benefit the poorest people abroad, and 35% of CRS’s programs and campaigns focus on emergency aid following natural disasters and civil conflicts. Long-term development programs focus on the areas of agriculture, community health, education, health, HIV/AIDS, micro-finance, and peacebuilding. Once CRS has met the immediate needs for food, water, and shelter of survivors of natural disasters and chronic emergencies, it then moves on to rehabilitation and reconstruction. CRS’s innovative approaches, which combine health, literacy, and microfinance, have enabled it to implement 164 sustainable agriculture projects in 34 countries.

CRS is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, and employs approximately 5,000 people worldwide. The organization is directed by a board of directors composed of twelve bishops, one priest and six lay people. In his country, CRS carries out the social mission of the Church with 8.5 million Catholics in 14,337 parishes, dioceses and schools through programs such as the CRS Rice Bowl, CRS Ethical Trade, Helping Hands volunteer program, advocacy initiatives, and student and youth programs.

As part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church, CRS works with local, national, and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organizations, to help people in need regardless of creed, race, or nationality. Abroad, it collaborates with local church organizations, partners of other religions, non-governmental organizations and local governments.