Mission and Program Statement

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund advances social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.

Through its grantmaking, the Fund supports efforts to expand knowledge, clarify values and critical choices, nurture creative expression, and shape public policy. The Fund's programs are intended to develop leaders, strengthen institutions, engage citizens, build community, and foster partnerships that include government, business, and civil society. Respect for cultural diversity and ecological integrity pervades the Fund's activities.

As an institutional citizen of an interdependent world, the Fund is active globally, nationally, and locally in its home city of New York. Grant programs are organized around three themes: Democratic Practice; Peacebuilding; and Sustainable Development. The Fund recognizes that achievement of progress in each of these program areas is often interconnected with developments in the others. As a private foundation, the Fund strives to promote philanthropic excellence and to enhance the effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.

As specified in the guidelines for each grant program, the Fund supports activities in a variety of geographic contexts. It also has identified several specific locations on which to concentrate cross-programmatic attention. The Fund refers to these as "RBF pivotal places": sub-national areas, nation-states, or cross-border regions which have special importance with regard to the Fund's substantive concerns and whose future will have disproportionate significance for the future of a surrounding region, an ecosystem, or the world. The Fund currently works in two pivotal places: China and the Western Balkans. The Charles E. Culpeper Arts & Culture program, focused on New York, nurtures a vibrant and inclusive arts community in the Fund’s home city.

The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is located at the heart of the Rockefeller estate outside New York City and was created when the Fund leased the area from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1991. The conference center provides a unique setting where the RBF and other nonprofit organizations and public sector institutions can bring together people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to engage critical issues, reach new levels of understanding, and develop creative solutions to pressing problems. The Pocantico Center also serves as a community resource and offers public access through a visitation program, lectures, and cultural events, as well as support to artists and arts organizations in the greater New York City area.

In the years since its founding in 1940, the Fund has developed a distinctive style of grantmaking that is reflected in the following characteristics:

  • Long View. Grantmaking is primarily concerned with fundamental problems and is designed to contribute to the achievement of long-term goals and to make a lasting impact.
  • Commitment. Extended commitments are frequently made to specific issues and geographic regions and even to particular grantees.
  • Synergy. Rather than considering opportunities on a stand-alone basis, the Fund looks for connections among the activities it supports and the themes it pursues, both within and across program areas and in specific geographic locations.
  • Initiative. The Fund initiates or participates in the development of many of the projects that it supports.
  • Engagement. In addition to providing financial support, the Fund often works closely with grantee organizations to help strengthen their capacity and advance their work
  • Collaboration. The Fund actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with other funders.
  • Convening. The Fund devotes time and resources, including the use of its Pocantico Center, to convening groups of diverse stakeholders and encouraging collaboration among government agencies, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations.

The goals and strategies in each of our programs are implemented through a variety of approaches to grantmaking. In some programs, as is noted in the guidelines, the Fund proactively identifies grantee partners and thus has limited ability to respond to unsolicited proposals. Grantseekers are encouraged to study the guidelines closely.