Between the Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the David Rockefeller Fund, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, there sure are a lot of pots of Rockefeller money out there.
Fortunately, there are some common threads among the different outfits that bear the Rockefeller family name, and the environment may be the strongest of those threads.
We wrote recently about the David Rockefeller Fund's environmental philanthropy, with its modest but consistent grantmaking in New York and the greater Northeast. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) is also into the environment, specifically climate change. The dangers of climate change are also front and center at the Rockefeller Foundation, which has come at this challenge through a focus on "resilience."
Then there's the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), started by David Rockefeller and his other siblings in 1967. Since 2006, RFF has also funded climate change efforts. Central to RFF's strategy is influencing climate policy and ending the country's reliance on coal as an energy source.
It's worth noting that the David Rockefeller Fund has also made a number of grants towards the coal regions of Appalachia, and RFF's own "National Coal Campaign" appears to parallel this. The Rockefeller family, it turns out, is among the funders for the "war on coal," and we can only wonder how Jay Rockefeller, the outgoing Democratic Senator from West Virginia, feels about this particular cause.
The goal of the National Coal Campaign is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by coal. In recent years, RFF has given sums to Dakota Resource Council to curtail construction of a coal plant in the region. It has also given to Chesapeake Climate Action Network to promote offshore wind power in Virginia. According to its website, the campaign has already defeated coal plants in the South, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.
Apart from the coal campaign, RFF is very interested in policy, research and education. It has recently funded Climate Nexus, the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis and the Ohio Environmental Council. What's more, RFF has funded the Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest and Living Justice Press.
RFF environmental grants tend to be at least $30,000, though sometimes an outfit receives multiple annual grants that total much higher. In 2012, for instance, 350.org received nearly $400,000 in total from RFF. Other outfits such as National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club Foundation, and Ecology Center have received modest sums in recent years as well.
RFF is run by a small staff, several of whom have strong environmental backgrounds. RFF Director Lee Wasserman has been a past president of the Environmental Federation of New York and served in leadership roles with the Environmental Grantmakers Association.