Rockefeller Brothers Fund Timeline

1970s: Decade of Disquiet

Despite intergenerational conflicts, the Fund responded to the concerns of the era with programs in equal opportunity, urban problems, U.S. Southern development, the environment, and fostering the health of the private sector.

Launched in 1970, the Fund’s Southern Program was concerned with the economic and social disenfranchisement of black Southerners, in particular the roles of poverty and land loss in massive outmigration from the rural South to Northern cities.

First Earth Day

After a six-month staff study in 1972-73, the RBF adopted New York City’s public education system as an area of concern for the first time, recognizing that strong schools were crucial to attracting and retaining residents and providing future access to jobs.

Nixon Visits China

The Fund was instrumental in the 1966 creation of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR), and supported the Committee from that point forward.

The RBF made grants to the Center for Community Change through the Fund’s Southern program beginning in 1972, providing technical assistance to agricultural development groups in the U.S. South.

Oil Crisis

The Creel Committee surveyed 25 of the Fund’s significant ongoing commitments and assessed the organizations for a “payout” grant of at least $1 million.

Better known as the Filer Commission, the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs was established in 1973 through the efforts of RBF founding trustee John D. Rockefeller 3rd and several others.

Established by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in 1938, the Sealantic Fund merged with the RBF in 1973.

Initially housed in Harlem’s St. James Presbyterian Church, by the 1970s the Harlem School of the Arts sought permanent quarters. In 1973, the RBF contributed $100,000 to this capital campaign.

The Fund’s support for the Worldwatch Institute was one of the first actions under its revised Environmental Program, which had extended its goals beyond traditional stewardship and conservation to predicting and ameliorating environmental crises.

Established in 1974 to preserve and make accessible the records of the Rockefeller family, its philanthropic institutions, and other organizations the family has created, the RAC has grown to become the premier research facility for the history of philanthropy.

The RBF was an early backer, contributing to the Institute’s general expenses from 1974 through 1981. RBF staff strove to connect NAI with potential funders and colleagues in alternative environmental design.

William M. Dietel, who came to the Fund in 1970 after serving as principal of the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, succeeded Dana Creel as president of the Fund when Creel retired in 1975.

The Lindisfarne Association, which began in 1973 in Southampton, New York, promoted the integration of spiritual practices, scholarship, and alternative education. It received support from founding RBF trustee Laurance Rockefeller as well as the Fund.

Founded in 1901 as the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, Rockefeller University is one of the earliest institutions established by Rockefeller family philanthropy. In 1978, the Fund made a $15 million capital grant to RU to help assure its ultimate independence from Rockefeller family support.

Following the deaths of four members of the third generation of Rockefellers during the 1970s, as the decade drew to a close the fourth generation (known as the cousins) held the majority of family seats on the board for the first time.