Rockefeller Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Rockefeller Foundation has been a leading player in New York City philanthropy for more than a century. Although the foundation is global in scope, New York-based organizations are eligible for funding in the areas of city and community development and arts and culture.

IP TAKE: The health and environment focus areas are most prominently funded overseas. New York nonprofits have the best chances of success with an economic proposal that gets city dwellers back to work and improves transportation in eco-friendly ways. The arts are also a big cause for Rockefeller. 

PROFILE: The name Rockefeller and New York City are synonymous, and although the Rockefeller Foundation has  grown into a global philanthropic empire, it still provides a great deal of support to local grantseekers. The foundation's local initiatives include the Jane Jacobs Medal, the NYC Cultural Innovation Fund, and Opportunity NYC. 

The foundation's U.S.-focused initiatives have included: 

  • 100 Resilient Cities
  • Bus Rapid Transit
  • Innovative Finance
  • New Orleans
  • New York City Cultural Innovation
  • Rebuild by Design
  • Resilience Academies
  • U.S. Youth Employment
  • 100 Resilient Cities
  • Bus Rapid Transit
  • Innovative Finance
  • New Orleans
  • New York City Cultural Innovation
  • Rebuild by Design
  • Resilience Academies
  • U.S. Youth Employment

    Meanwhile, the most New York City-centric funding area is the New York City Cultural Innovation Fund.

    Since 1913, The Rockefeller Foundation has been supporting social, economic, health, and environmental causes. This is John D. Rockefeller Sr.'s foundation, which started with more than $35 million in awards its first year. In recent years, the focus has been on advancing health care, reevaluating ecosystems, securing livelihoods, and transforming cities. Each year, the foundation honors living local activists with Jane Jacobs Medals, providing $200,000 in prize money to honorees.

    Previous winners have included Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal for the Tribeca Film Festival and local visionaries for their work in community development, democracy building, and food programs. The foundation's NYC Cultural Innovation Fund provides grants of $50,000 to $250,000 for groups that support creative expression, and the foundation places an emphasis on projects that are innovative and forward-thinking.

    Rockefeller's environmental program has historically been focused on climate change resilience, home energy retrofits, and building clean energy infrastructure. However, much of Rockefeller's environmental focus is on India and Africa. The economic program has been split between America, Europe, and Africa, but New York organizations should focus on sustainable transportation and the employment of low-income workers in environmentally sustainable construction projects. New York City is a primary focus of the foundation's Transforming Cites program. Rockefeller is specifically looking for programs that increase workforce participation, offset educational costs, and break intergenerational cycles of poverty.

    Although Rockefeller used to support education reform, peace and security, and international arts and humanities, it doesn't any more. It also doesn't award grants to individuals, fellowships outside of its core work, or general operational support.

    There's no way around it...a majority of the foundation's grant money escapes the New York City borders. A list of recent grants can be found on the foundation's Grants page.

    The only way the foundation accepts unsolicited funding inquiries is through an online inquiry process, and you can get started on the Request Funding page. If you have general inquiries, however, you can call the foundation at 212-869-8500. There have been some significant staffing changes over the past couple years. so you may be dealing with someone different than you did in the past.

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