Rockefeller Brothers Fund Timeline

1950s: The Fund at Mid-Century

By the early 1950s, the Fund had an endowment for the first time, it began operating its own programs, and used these to respond to world events with more experimental initiatives.

In 1950, Dana S. Creel was appointed director of the RBF, and later became its first president.

The Fund expanded the Rockefeller family tradition of support for International House, an organization founded in 1924 that sought to provide positive cultural exchange for international students through social events and residential facilities.

In 1951, the RBF elected its first non-family trustees, Dr. Detlev W. Bronk and Wallace K. Harrison.

In 1951, a $58 million gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave the RBF an interest-generating principal fund for the first time. With this endowment, the Fund could now make larger grants and design its own experimental and even operating programs.

Founded in 1953 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, the aim of The Agricultural Development Council was to strengthen the professional capacity of Asian countries to deal with the economic and human problems of agricultural and rural development.

Brown v. Board of Education

The Council approached population through basic medical research, effective and affordable contraceptives, educational outreach, technical assistance, professional training, and long-term planning studies.


Grants from the Fund went to Chilean earthquake relief, model schools and a primary education program in Chile, and agricultural reform, training, and development in Venezuela, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Brazil. 

The Asia Society was established in 1956 to increase American understanding of Asia and improve Asian-American cultural relations. The Fund’s long-term support for the Society began in 1956, its inaugural year.

Beginning in 1956, the Fund supported the Regional Plan Association’s three-year, in-depth study of the New York City metropolitan area. The study was the first to produce long-term projections of trends in population, economy, housing, transportation, industry, and land use affecting the tri-state area.

Created in 1956 in response to Cold War tensions, Special Studies convened leaders from a wide variety of fields including government, business, and academia, to explore and define the “problems and opportunities” the United States would face in the coming 10 to 15 years.

In 1956, the Fund gave $1 million to Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc., for the development of a large tract on the Island of St. John in the American Virgin Islands for national park purposes.

Ghana Gains Independence from Britain

Soviet Launch of Sputnik

In 1957, the Fund established the Ramon Magsaysay Awards to honor the late President of the Philippines, who died in a plane crash in March 1957.

In 1958, a gift from the Fund helped the Palisades Interstate Park Commission expand the Palisades Interstate Park on the Hudson River northwest of New York City.

In 1958, the Fund began supporting the Southern Regional Council in its efforts to make the desegregation of public facilities in the South both successful and peaceful.

In 1959, the Fund launched its West Africa program to provide technical assistance to Ghana and Nigeria for economic development.