Photo © Ezra Stoller/Esto.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) advances social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. As a private family foundation rooted in the Rockefeller tradition of philanthropy, we believe we have an obligation to take the long view, to experiment and take risks, to share our learning, and to leverage all our resources for the common good. Through our grantmaking, convening, and investing, the RBF supports the people and organizations building lasting solutions to the challenges facing today’s increasingly interdependent world.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was created in 1940 by the sons of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller—John 3rd, Nelson, Winthrop, Laurance, and David—as a vehicle by which they could coordinate their philanthropic efforts. Abby “Babs” Rockefeller Mauzé, their older and only sister, joined the RBF board in 1954. Two substantial gifts from their father, one in 1951 and the other upon his death in 1960, formed the original endowment of the RBF. On July 1, 1999, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation of Stamford, Connecticut, merged with the RBF, increasing the Fund’s assets by a third. Almost two decades later, in 2018, a generous bequest of $250 million from the estate of the RBF’s cofounder David Rockefeller raised the endowment to over $1 billion.
Over more than 80 years, three successive generations of Rockefeller family members have provided exceptional leadership to ensure that the RBF remains dedicated to the philanthropic ideals of the Rockefeller family while also inviting the participation of distinguished nonfamily trustees and staff.
Beginning with John D. Rockefeller 3rd, who served as president from inception until 1956, seven presidents have guided the RBF. They include Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1956–1958; Laurance S. Rockefeller, 1958–1968; Dana S. Creel, 1968–1975; William M. Dietel, 1975–1987; Colin G. Campbell, 1988–2000; and the RBF’s current president, Stephen B. Heintz, who assumed office in February 2001.
Several themes have persisted throughout RBF history. These include a special interest in conservation and the environment; civic participation and democracy; international engagement; cultivating an experimental disposition; and embracing family tradition.