The Rockefeller Foundation


Operating both within the United States and around the world, the Rockefeller Foundation supports work that expands opportunity and strengthens resilience to social, economic, health and environmental challenges, affirming its pioneering philanthropic mission since 1913 to "promote the well-being" of humanity.


Incorporated in 1913 in NY - Founded by the late John D. Rockefeller, a prominent industrialist who founded the Standard Oil Co. and who defined the structure of modern philanthropy. His fortune was mainly used to create the modern systematic approach of targeted philanthropy with foundations that have had a major impact on medicine, education, and scientific research. He is also the founder of both The University of Chicago and Rockefeller University.

Grantmaking Programs

Jane Jacobs Medal

In 2007, the year after the visionary urban activist Jane Jacobs died, the foundation launched the Jane Jacobs annual award to honor her work. This medal reaffirms the foundation’s commitment to New York City by recognizing those whose creative uses of the urban environment build a more diverse, dynamic and equitable city. Medals are awarded to two living persons whose accomplishments represent Jane Jacobs’ principles and practices in action in New York City. The selection of the winners and allocation of the prize money—totaling $200,000—are decided by the members of a medal selection jury. The first award recognizes leadership and lifetime contribution. The second award recognizes new ideas and activism. Together the medalists represent the creativity, innovation and dynamism of New York City.

New York City Opportunities Fund

Through the fund the Foundation supports three primary projects. 1) The NYC Cultural Innovation Fund supports creativity and the arts, with an emphasis on innovation. It awards two-year grants, ranging from $50,000 to $250,000, for groundbreaking creative work that enriches the city’s cultural life and strengthens the role that the arts will play in the future of New York. 2) The Jane Jacobs Medal honors the work of Jane Jacobs by recognizing those whose creative uses of the urban environment build a more diverse, dynamic and equitable city. 3) Opportunity NYC, which recognizes the day-to-day challenges faced by low-income people. The program provides payment to low-income families and individuals to increase participation in three targeted activities—education, health and employment—to maximize their chances of breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty.

Climate Change Resilience

The foundation has announced a five-year, $70 million commitment to build the resilience of communities most likely to be affected by climate change. The foundation's Climate Change Resilience initiative aims to develop the ability of communities to manage and plan for the effects of climate change and to make sure that planning includes the most vulnerable citizens. One component of the initiative will focus on Asian cities. According to the Population Reference Bureau, more than 60% of the increase in the world's urban population in the next thirty years will occur in Asia, which already has a larger urban population than all other regions of the world combined. In addition, a recent study of populations at risk for sea-level rise noted that eight of the top ten countries likely to be affected are in Asia. Another component will focus on raising awareness in the United States and exploring relevant solutions. The destruction in recent years caused by hurricanes, record heat waves, and wildfires, as well as the introduction of climate adaptation plans in Seattle, New York City, and California, underscores the foundation's belief in the increasing importance of the need to expand domestic efforts to build resilience to climate change. Part of the effort will require developing a shared agenda between groups working on climate change mitigation as well as those working on building resilience to climate change. Africa, where vulnerability to climate change is very high, will also be a focal point of the initiative. Given the dependence on rain-fed agriculture in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the growing season there could decrease as much as 20 percent.

Bellagio Center Residency Programs

The residency program offers a serene setting conducive to focused, goal-oriented work, and the unparalleled opportunity to establish new connections with fellow residents from a stimulating array of disciplines and geographies. 1) The writing residency is for university and think tank-based academics, researchers, professors, and scientists working in any discipline. The program typically offers one-month residencies for no more than 12 residents at a time. Individuals based at a university or a think tank in any discipline and from any part of the world are welcome to apply. To ensure an intellectually diverse and stimulating environment, the program welcomes projects from all academic disciplines. 2) The arts and literary arts residencies are for composers, fiction and non-fiction writers, playwrights, poets, video/filmmakers, and visual artists who share in the foundation's mission of promoting the well-being of humankind and whose work is inspired by or relates to global or social issues. The program typically offers one-month stays for about three to five artists at a time. Artists of significant achievement from any country are welcome to apply. 3) The practitioner residencies are open to professionals in fields and institutions relevant to the foundation’s work. The Center has a strong interest in proposals that align with the foundation's mission to expand opportunities and to strengthen resilience for poor or vulnerable people, in particular projects relevant to the foundation's core issue areas. The foundation works on global health; climate change resilience; urbanization; social and economic security; and food, water, and housing. The program seeks practitioner applicants with demonstrated leadership qualities and the capacity to contribute to the intellectual life at the center. See web site for application guidelines.

Transforming Health Systems

This initiative helps improve the health of more people through greater access to timely, appropriate, and affordable health services through four strategies: 1) Fostering health systems research and agenda setting for universal health coverage; 2) Enhancing professional capacity to plan and manage high-performing health systems; 3) Harnessing the resources of the private sector to finance and deliver health services; and 4) Leveraging interoperable eHealth systems. Key outcomes the program strives for are: 1) Inform leadership and public policy so that universal health coverage is accepted as a feasible and desirable goal and is adopted by a growing number of national governments; 2) Build capacity in both public and private sectors for enhanced development and stewardship of health systems in selected countries; and 3) Support innovation, tools, and global public-private partnerships and networks to develop interoperable eHealth systems that improve quality, access and affordability of health services in selected countries.

Strengthening Food Security: Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa

This initiative helps make food supplies secure by working with smallholder farmers to achieve rapid and sustainable agricultural growth with their staple crops. The focus of the program is on: 1) Improving access to more resilient seeds that produce higher and more stable yields; 2) Promoting soil health and productivity; 3) Building more efficient local, national and regional, agriculture markets; and 4) Promoting improved policies and building partnerships to develop the technological and institutional changes needed to achieve a Green Revolution.
The program seeks four outcomes: 1) Science, knowledge and technology are disseminated and used by African small-scale farmers to rapidly increase agricultural productivity in ways that are sustainable and environmentally friendly; 2) Small-scale farmers achieve Increased productivity, income and profit in 10 or more African countries by giving them greater access to markets for their staple crops; 3) Policies, infrastructure and financial incentive mechanisms are in place regionally and nationally to provide a supportive and sustainable environment for agricultural transformations; and 4) Alliances and platforms are developed collaboratively with bilateral and multilateral partners, national governments, research organizations, farmers’ organizations and others to address the need for greater agricultural productivity, resource mobilization, and human resources to achieve food security.

Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowships

The program awards fellowships to visual artists whose work demonstrates exceptional originality and is inspired or informs global or social issues. The two-month residency is in a private apartment complete with studio space on the peaceful grounds of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, adjacent to Northern Italy’s Lake Como. In addition to room and board, each fellow will receive a cash award, round-trip travel expenses to Bellagio, and a printed publication of artwork to be produced after the residency. Each year, an advisory panel of leading international curators and artists identifies nominees from all over the world.

Centennial Innovation Challenge

In celebration of the foundation's centennial, the Centennial Innovation Challenge seeks solutions that will improve livelihoods for workers in the informal economy. It is often out of necessity that 1.8 billion people find their livelihoods in the informal economy -- the business enterprises and jobs that exist partially or fully outside of government regulation. Informal workers lack basic safety nets like pensions and health insurance, and are typically without recourse if denied pay or asked to work in unsafe conditions. Informal employment is a significant and growing part of the world's economy; it accounts for around 50% of employment in North Africa and in Latin America, 65% of employment in Asia and 72% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Given the vast number of informal workers, it is important to spur new innovations that improve workers' livelihoods. As many as ten finalists will or have been considered for a chance to apply for a grant of up to US $100,000 and win support in proposal-writing to enable the further development of submitted ideas.


Protecting American Workers Economic Security: Campaign for American Workers

The Campaign for American Workers initiative recognizes that there is danger in the growth of economic insecurity, but there is also opportunity. The initiative focuses on three primary strategies: 1) Promoting policies and tools to increase savings and retirement security; 2) Fostering demonstrations that ensure more secure and portable health care coverage; and 3) Supporting evidence-based analysis of proposed and current policies on economic security of American workers, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged workers.
Key outcomes the initiative is working to achieve include: 1) Improve knowledge and understanding among policymakers and thought leaders of the need for and pathways to a new social contract to improve economic security; 2) Implement public-private partnerships, new institutional arrangements and pilot projects that result in workers having greater access to health care, predictable savings and retirement income; and 3) Explore policy and program innovations that help guide federal and state legislators on workable options to increase economic security through access to quality jobs and health care, and easier, more effective ways to save for today and in retirement.

Promoting Equitable, Sustainable Transportation Policies

The initiative advocates for investment in affordable, environmentally-responsible transit. This initiative supports strategies at the national and local level. At the federal level, the program funds policy analysis and research that informs a new transportation policy for America, encourages national leaders and grassroots leaders to embrace a new policy agenda and promotes and coordinates philanthropic participation in transportation work. On the state and local level, the program resources advocacy efforts to encourage state/metro reform, builds the internal capacity of state departments of transportation and metro planning organizations, and encourages sustainability and equity through market and consumer levers. The initiative seeks three key outcomes: 1) Policy: Policymakers at all levels of government in the United States will have actionable and practical research and analytical support to advance equitable, sustainable and economically beneficial transportation policies; 2) Capacity: A diverse constituency of national and grassroots leaders will be able to influence debates, positions and issues in transportation, and to hold leaders accountable; 3) Expanded Partnerships: An ongoing network of philanthropic and major donor partners will continue to support federal efforts in sustainable transportation solutions, sustain regional ones and maintain reform infrastructure beyond the conclusion of the initiative's support.

Linking Global Disease Surveillance Networks

The initiative is working to establish transnational detection, monitoring and communications systems to strengthen disease prevention. This initiative aims to mitigate the impact of disease outbreaks through three strategies:
1) Optimizing individual and institutional capacity for disease surveillance in two regions at highest risk—the Mekong region in Asia and both Eastern and Southern Africa; 2) Promoting collaboration in disease surveillance and response across countries and within regions to improve horizontal communication and knowledge sharing; 3) Building bridges between disease surveillance networks and international agencies—and connections between animal health, human health and environmental health—through the One Health approach—increasing the efficiency of global systems for disease surveillance and response. Key outcomes the program works toward include: 1) Set up transboundary disease surveillance networks in Southeast Asia, and in Eastern and Southern Africa; 2) Give disease surveillance practitioners and their institutions better capacity; 3) Provide disease surveillance practitioners with better access to improved tools; and 4) Ensure that policymakers, human health and veterinary practitioners take a trans-disciplinary approach.

Helping Build an Impact Investing Industry

The initiative aims to overcome the major obstacle to the growth of the impact investing industry using 4 strategies:1) Catalyzing platforms for collective action that enable leading impact investors and intermediaries to coordinate efforts, such as disseminating standards, and sharing information; 2) Supporting the development of scaled intermediation vehicles that help absorb impact investments at a scale necessary to attract the institutional investors who control the lion’s share of global capital; 3) Building industry-wide infrastructure that enables broader and more effective participation in the impact investing industry; 4) Supporting research and advocacy efforts that promote an analytical understanding of the impact investing industry and take necessary steps to facilitate its maturation. Key outcomes sought include: 1) Spark collective action platforms for impact investing industry leaders; 2) Develop industry infrastructure that can sustainably support impact investors; 3) Support scaling of organizations and structures (such as private equity funds and investment clubs).

Advancing Innovation Processes to Solve Social Problems

This initiative uses private-sector innovation tools and methods to discover social breakthroughs that development organizations and social entrepreneurs can use to respond to the complex circumstances facing poor and vulnerable populations. It supports four primary areas of activity: 1) Testing the value and applicability of commercial innovation models for addressing social problems; 2) Scaling up or replicating existing socially-focused or not-for-profit innovation models; 3) Influencing providers of innovation platforms and techniques to sustainably and systematically provide their services to the social sector; and 4) Encouraging NGOs, researchers, funders, and entrepreneurs focused on pro-poor innovation to use open-innovation models. The program expects to achieve four key outcomes: 1) Test and prove which existing commercial-market models of innovation (such as crowdsourcing, design-thinking, and user-driven innovation) work as effective innovation tools for development; 2) Provide NGOs and other pro-poor, not-for-profit development organizations with the necessary local and global knowledge and capacity to use innovation models to enhance the efficiency and productivity of their work; 3) Enable both users and providers to replicate and scale up the use of and demand for innovation models that have a proven track record of success in addressing development problems to benefit poor communities; and 4) Foster partnerships between developers and providers of innovation tools and the social sector to continue sharing and demonstrating the effectiveness of socially-focused or not-for-profit innovation models.

Rebuilding New Orleans

The Rebuilding New Orleans Initiative, which has supported the successful process to develop a Unified New Orleans Plan, is in its final phase. Over the next years, the foundation will support the implementation of many of the ideas in the UNOP and build thriving and diverse neighborhoods including: working closely with Greater New Orleans Foundation, providing strategic support for professional staff, and supporting national and community-based organizations working to rebuild the city.

Grants to Individuals Program

Awards to recognize two living individuals whose creative vision for the urban environment has significantly contributed to the vibrancy and variety of New York City. Residencies to composers, novelists, playwrights, poets, video/filmmakers, and visual artists to work on their projects in Italy.

Program-Related Investment

The foundation makes PRIs in businesses that are aligned with the foundation’s initiatives and overall strategy, directly furthering the goals of the foundation’s five issue areas. PRIs have been made to New York City and Louisiana programs to develop housing for low-income residents, as well as to an organization working to raise the incomes of Ugandan smallholder farmers who grow bananas and other cash crops by improving their access to financial capital, and to a community investment fund that provides growth capital and management assistance to businesses in, or that hire from, low- and moderate-income communities in California.

U.S. Equity and Economic Initiative

As part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s comprehensive $65 million investment to help more than 10 million low-wage workers and their families across the United States meet their basic needs and have a path to a better future, the Foundation has launched the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative to transform economic stability and mobility for nearly 5 million low-wage workers in America and leverage over $1 billion in private capital by 2025.

Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective (ROC)

To expand efforts to assist Black- and Latinx-owned businesses and the communities they serve. Building on the efforts of HIP's PowerUp Fund, ROC will work to catalyze public- and private-sector investments in cities that are home to Black and Latinx-owned SMBs most affected by the covid-19 pandemic, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, El Paso, Houston, Louisville, Miami, Newark, Norfolk, and Oakland.