OVERVIEW: The Rockefeller Brother's Fund thinks broadly about global security, and sees its work in Democratic Practice and Sustainable Development as closely related to the challenges of peacebuilding. The fund supports grassroots constituencies for peace and tries to connect them to policymaking at the regional and global level.
IP TAKE: At the core of RBF's work are the beliefs that the world continues to evolve toward transnational systems and that civil society has a vital role to play in ending conflicts.
PROFILE: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) was established in 1940 by John D. Rockefeller's sons. At that time, the purpose of the fund was to “[s]hare advice and research on charitable activities and coordinate their philanthropic efforts to better effect.” RBF seeks to advance “[s]ocial change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.” The fund’s grantmaking is organized around three thematic programs: Democratic Practice, Peacebuilding, and Sustainable Development, and two place-based programs: Southern China and Western Balkans. The Charles E. Culpeper Arts & Culture program, focused on New York, nurtures a dynamic and inclusive arts community there.
RBF looks to transform conflict into "durable peace"—a phrase used often at the fund. More than most funders, RBF supports the concept that opening up new — and unusual — channels of communication can make a big difference. The foundation played a key role in advancing dialogue to peacefully address Iran's nuclear program. The RBF also features an excellent and detailed website, including a grants database.
The Peacebuilding program seeks to connect grassroots constituencies working toward peace at the multilateral, national, and international levels to support "[c]onflict transformation and durable peace." The RNF's Peacebuilding program works closely with the RBF's Pivotal Place programs located in Western Balkans. A significant portion of the fund's current grants are also focused on the “wider Middle East.”
The Democratic Practice program views democracy as one of the keys to enhancing security and is organized into two subprograms: Democracy in the United States and Global Governance. Grants are awarded in this area based on organizations' desire to advocate for stronger global governance via increased transparency, accountability, and responsiveness. The fund also offers grant support to organizations that work to improve citizen engagement and empowerment in regard to democracy and global governance.
The RBF's Sustainable Development program addresses problems created by climate change. This program's grantmaking focuses on the U.S.; however, it works in collaboration with the fund’s Pivotal Place program specifically in New York City, Southern China and the Western Balkans.
The Fund’s Global Governance portfolio supports broad participation in forging the international agreements and institutional arrangements needed to encourage investment in sustainable development. Fund staff work to ensure that global developments inform work in specific places and that locally grounded efforts generate lessons and innovations needed for global impact.
RBF is a proactive grantmaker, and actively seeks out organizations whose work closely aligns with the fund’s programmatic goals. However, the fund also accepts unsolicited funding applications which are reviewed year-round.
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