Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) was founded in 2002 by an enthusiastic group of Princeton students, alumni and faculty as an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening in the Americas the fulfillment of the University’s motto, “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.”

Daniel Pastor ’03 and Allen Taylor ’03 were instrumental in the creation of PiLA during their senior year at Princeton, inspired by a seminar taught by politics Professor Paul Sigmund, who would become PiLA's founding president. Their vision was to create a thriving fellowship organization in the tradition of PiLA's counterparts, Princeton in Asia (PiA) and Princeton in Africa (PiAf).

With seed funding from the Program in Latin American Studies, the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, and the Class of 1969 Community Service Fund, PiLA placed two Class of 2003 graduates in year-long fellowships. In 2008–09, PiLA opened applications to graduates of all North American colleges and universities.

PiLA is an independent 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit organization affiliated with Princeton University. PiLA maintains an office on the Princeton University campus but raises all of its own operating funds.