In 2003, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund launched a new program architecture that was organized around four themes: Democratic Practice, Peacebuilding, Sustainable Development, and Human Advancement. It also identified several specific locations on which to concentrate cross-programmatic attention. These pivotal places included: New York City, Serbia and Montenegro, and South Africa. In 2006, the Fund introduced a fourth pivotal place, Southern China, and the Serbia and Montenegro program was renamed Western Balkans in 2007. The Fund marked several programmatic changes in 2008, beginning with the review and conclusion of the Charles E. Culpeper Human Advancement program and the conclusion of the South Africa pivotal place program in 2009.
In 2016, the Charles E. Culpeper Arts & Culture program was established to house the Fund’s longstanding interest in nurturing a vibrant and inclusive arts community in New York City. The New York City pivotal place program was concluded in 2015 and grantmaking in New York City which addressed the themes of sustainable development and democratic practice continues within those program portfolios.
The Charles E. Culpeper Human Advancement program concluded in 2008. The conclusion of this grantmaking allowed the Fund to continue to move toward greater program cohesion, cross-programmatic collaboration, and synergy among the core themes of democratic practice, peace and security, and sustainable development. The core interests of the Human Advancement program—leadership, diversity, equity, and arts and culture—continue to receive attention in the RBF programs. As a result of the program's conclusion, the Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color was transferred to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in January 2009.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund first engaged in grantmaking in South Africa in the mid-1960s—focusing on human rights and supporting the country’s anti-apartheid movement. Over the last 18 years, the Fund has used HIV/AIDS as a lens for grantmaking centered on advocacy, capacity building, models of care, education and support, and research related to vulnerable children and the long-term impacts of HIV/AIDS on society. In 2008, the Fund made the decision to phase out of the South Africa grantmaking, which largely reflected the Human Advancement program focus. Final grants for this program were awarded during the first quarter of 2009.
Cross-Programmatic Initiative: Energy
In 2006, the Fund decided to examine the issue of sustainable energy as a cross-cutting programmatic theme that would connect the RBF's core interests in sustainable development, peace and security, and democratic practice. By overlaying the RBF program structure lenses on the energy challenges of the 21st century, the Fund concentrated on energy as a pivotal issue and the strategic opportunities to accelerate a transition to an alternative energy future. Work within this pivotal issue offered the opportunity to reshape the energy system by advancing conservation and efficiency and accelerating the development and implementation of alternatives in order to enhance security, promote development and economic growth, and protect against the devastating impacts of global warming. The initiative was concluded in 2009 with its incorporation into the RBF’s program interests.