Rockefeller Brothers Fund Timeline

2000s: Globalization’s Discontents

The years since 2000 have witnessed rapid and chaotic trends in globalization as well as violent regional conflicts with devastating immediate consequences and far-reaching global effects.

Throughout the 2000s, climate change became a larger and increasingly central objective at the Fund, spanning program areas and driving cross-program cooperation.

Beginning in 2000, the RBF has supported the Third World Network in improving the terms of negotiations for developing country interests, furthering the Fund’s commitments to democratize global institutions and give the global South a stronger voice in global governance.

After an extensive search, the Fund appointed Stephen B. Heintz as its next president, replacing Colin Campbell who had left to head the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 2000. Heintz took office in February 2001.

World Trade Center Attacks

U.S. Rejects Kyoto Protocol

In 2002, the RBF joined more than 100 other foundations in an amicus brief supporting a federal lawsuit brought by the Brennan Center, Dobbins v. Legal Services Corporation, which challenged government-imposed restrictions on the use of private philanthropic funds in nonprofit legal aid services.

Born out of a track II dialogue between the United States and Iran, initiated in 2002, and co-sponsored by the RBF and the United Nations Association of the USA, The Iran Project encourages and supports official bilateral U.S.-Iran relations and negotiations.

In 2003-2004, the RBF incubated the U.S. in the World initiative to enhance the communications capacity of foreign policy experts and advocates in advancing a vision of responsible global engagement.

Following from its own RBF Project on World Security, in the mid-2000s the Fund’s then-named Peace and Security program undertook a multi-pronged approach toward developing within the United States new interest in and paradigms for the U.S. role in the world.

In 1999, the RBF began contributing to the redevelopment of former industrial sites, or brownfields, in New York City. The organizations’ research, advocacy, and policy work resulted in the passage of the 2003 New York State Brownfield Reform Act.

In 2001-2003, for the first time since the 1983 adoption of the One World program rubric, the RBF undertook a comprehensive redesign of its program architecture.

By 2000, HIV/AIDS was affecting the Fund’s work to improve basic education in South Africa. Consequently, in 2003, the RBF shifted its South African grantmaking strategy from basic education to respond to the pandemic and its impact.

RBF grantmaking began focusing on Southern China in 2006, working at the intersection of environment and health to heighten awareness of the health impacts of pollution.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Regional Network (BIRN) is a network of nongovernmental organizations working to develop media and investigative reporting in the Balkans. The RBF has supported BIRN since 2006.

The Fund began supporting The Institute for State Effectiveness in 2007, with grants for several projects in Afghanistan and Kosovo and two funders’ briefings for the organization.

Founded in 2007 with RBF support, the Institute for Advanced Studies (GAP) is an independent, Kosovo-based think tank that aims to bridge the gaps between the Kosovar government and the public on economic, political, and social issues.

Since 2008, support for IPE has been an important component of the Fund’s commitment, begun in 2006, to work at the intersection of environment and health and strengthen public participation in environmental governance in China.

Global Financial Crisis

In 2009, the Fund moved its offices from midtown Manhattan to The Interchurch Center on the upper West Side, providing an opportunity to redesign the space in accordance with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards.

In 2011, the RBF began supporting Just Vision, an organization that addresses the lack of media coverage of Palestinian and Israeli civilians doing nonviolent work to end the Occupation of the West Bank.

Arab Spring

As the Fund moved into the 2000s, the “cousins,” or fourth generation of the Rockefeller family, began to welcome the fifth generation of family members onto the board.

In 2014, the Fund launched the Charles E. Culpeper Arts & Culture grants, honoring the legacy of the Culpeper Foundation and uniting two RBF commitments in need of redefinition: the arts and New York City.

Given its deep commitment to combating climate change, in September 2014, the Fund began a two-step process to divest from fossil fuel companies.

David Rockefeller, who founded the Rockefeller Brothers Fund with brothers John 3rd, Nelson, Laurance, and Winthrop in 1940, passed away on March 20, 2017. David served as a trustee of the Fund for 40 years.

In the early 2010s, grantees of the RBF’s Democratic Practice–Global Challenges and Pivotal Place: Western Balkans programs began developing research and public information campaigns on the proposed construction of a new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Kosovo.

In 1924, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., asked New York Architect Duncan Candler to prepare plans for a “playhouse” where he and his family could relax and entertain. David Rockefeller bequeathed the Playhouse upon his death in 2017 to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2018, it joined Kykuit as part of The Pocantico Center.