Photo courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center.
Expansion of Resources
Initially the RBF primarily served as the mechanism for the Rockefeller brothers to coordinate their personal giving, and its resources consisted only of funds that each brother contributed annually. In its first decade, the Fund did not attempt to mount a typical foundation program along targeted lines of research or specialized fields of activity, but rather saw itself as enacting, on a larger scale, the broad approach that an individual might take toward giving. In 1951, a $58 million gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in the form of Rockefeller Center notes, 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. The Special Studies Project, launched in 1956, and the RBF West Africa Program, begun in 1958, are early examples of this kind of work.