Rockefeller Brothers Fund Timeline

1960s: Tradition and Tumult

Against a backdrop of political protest and social upheaval, the 1960s saw the RBF increase its endowment and make between $6 and $8 million in grants each year.

In 1961, the Fund began to address the incomplete inclusion of women in American life, particularly in higher education.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., father of the founding RBF trustees, died in 1960 and left half of his estate, approximately $65 million, to the Fund.

In 1961, the RBF designated $1 million for Spelman College and the Atlanta University Center, which enabled the construction of a new Fine Arts Building at Spelman and land acquisition for Clark, Morehouse, and Morris Brown colleges.

Construction of Berlin Wall Begins

U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Beginning in 1961, the RBF made grants to support the African Scholarship Program of American Universities, which selected and placed African undergraduates in American universities, providing logistical help and financial support for their education.

The RBF supported the Arkansas Arts Center beginning in 1962, with capital and construction funds to finance its main building in Little Rock.

As Colonial Williamsburg evolved into the large-scale historic and educational park it remains to this day, it was almost exclusively a Rockefeller-supported endeavor well into the 1970s.

The RBF supported the creation of Lincoln Center with a gift of $2.5 million in 1962.

As the 1960s progressed, five new program officers joined the RBF staff: William S. Moody, Thomas Wahman, Gerald Davenport, Russell Phillips, and William M. Dietel.

The Fund’s support for the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation (AWLF) reflects its interests in both international relations and environmental conservation.

Vietnam War

Established in 1965 by founding RBF trustee David Rockefeller, the CIAR was dedicated to fostering education, dialogue, and debate about the political, economic, and social issues facing Latin America, North America, and the Caribbean.

In 1968, the Fund developed an umbrella organizing mechanism for addressing the complex problems of race in the inner city. Coordinated by RBF staff, it made modest grants to a range of organizations, each of which worked on a facet of the broader issue.

In 1968, the RBF made a $500,000 grant to the NTHP, the largest received for general purposes by the Trust since its 1949 inception.

The RBF supported the New York Public Library (NYPL) with annual grants as early as 1952. In 1968, it made a special $25,000 gift toward the preservation of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and History, which had deteriorated severely.

The RBF provided advice and assistance to founders Carter Burden and Frank Donnelly and director Charles Inniss, and became one of the museum’s earliest funders.

Beginning in 1969, the Fund targeted its support to the Society’s Nature Centers Division for educational outreach including publications, training centers, workshops for the general public, and environmental curricula for elementary and secondary schools.