Western Balkans Guidelines

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) has been engaged in grantmaking in the Western Balkans since 2001. At that time, in light of the region’s long history of instability and the recent conclusion of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, the prospect of a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Europe hinged, in part, on the Balkans’ successful transition to a post-Communist and post-conflict era. During its first years in the Western Balkans, the Fund’s grantmaking aimed to nurture healthy democratic processes, support regional initiatives to debunk persistent myths and prejudices, and encourage development of a vibrant civil society. The Fund’s work in the Western Balkans, and especially in Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, builds on its 20-year past experience in Central and Eastern Europe, supporting transition processes and helping to create conditions for their accession to the European Union.

The countries of the Western Balkans are focused on realizing their European integration aspirations, as accession brings with it the promise of stability and rule of law—necessary prerequisites for long-term peace, prosperity, and democracy. To support that vision, the Fund will help create the enabling legal, fiscal, and political environment for EU membership, giving special attention to strengthening democratic practice, enabling sustainable development, and documenting and facing the consequences of past conflicts. Engagement and leadership of youth in building a sustainable future for the region and creating a new narrative based on the region’s diversity and European values are central to the RBF’s support in the region.

The Fund focuses on Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to help them complete the process of integration into the EU. The interdependence among the countries, common challenges they face, and the potential they possess together as a subregion of the European Union present a unique opportunity for successful integration. The Fund supports civil society initiatives that advance collaboration and enhance the capacity for sustainable development and enduring peace in the region.

The RBF is pursuing the following goal and strategies across the Western Balkans region:

Goal: Support the successful integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union


  • Supporting civil society efforts to improve practices, performance, transparency, and accountability in governance.
  • Advancing sustainable development, focusing on an efficient regional energy sector based on renewable energy resources.
  • Strengthening constituencies for reconciliation and enduring peace.
  • Encouraging the development of indigenous philanthropy and corporate social responsibility to support participatory democracy and models of sustainable development.

The RBF works closely with civil society groups, governmental institutions, and other funding organizations to highlight the richness of the region’s ethnic, gender, age, cultural, and racial diversity and to promote the values of a pluralistic and inclusive society.

Albanian [PDF] Serbian [PDF]

Featured Grantees

Members of the Youth Club of Nikšić line up to plant saplings in Montenegro's second largest city in 2014. (Image courtesy of Forum mladi i neformalna edukacija.)
Forum Mladi I Neformalna Edukacija
Candidates running for mayor in the Serbian city of Niš participating in an Istinomer debate ahead of 2012 elections, hosted by journalist Suzana Trninić. Photo courtesy CRTA.
Civic Association CRTA-The Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability
A screening at the opening ceremony of DokuFest 2011 in Prizren, Kosovo.

News and updates

Qendra Multimedia’s ‘55 Shades of Gay’ Grapples with Social Reform in Kosovo

The envelope-pushing satire about the challenges and paradoxes of inclusion in the Balkans made its U.S. premiere in March.

Mia Vukojević Joins the RBF to Lead Western Balkans Program

Ms. Vukojević’s career in public service includes working on humanitarian aid and grantmaking projects across five continents. She most recently focused on issues affecting women for the Oak Foundation and served as the executive director of Serbia's Trag Foundation.

Haki Abazi on Supporting ‘The Civil Society Triangle’ to Tackle Corruption in Post-Conflict Countries

RBF Western Balkans program director details how civil society organizations can support one another's work and advocate for higher levels of transparency and accountability for a new book.