David Rockefeller Fund: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: The David Rockefeller Fund's environmental program emphasizes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation, and sustainability. 

IP TAKE: Grants are on the small side, but flow steadily, and bigger things may be in store for the future.  The foundation doesn't accept unsolicited proposals, but does fund on all levels (local, state, and national).

PROFILE: Established in 1989, the David Rockefeller Fund seeks to "address the root causes of problems, working both locally and on a broader policy level," which it accomplishes through the stated values of respect, flexibility, family values, risk taking, legacy, leverage, and self-examination. David Rockefeller inherited much of his wealth, at least early on. His grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, famously cofounded the Standard Oil Company, becoming the patriarch of one of the most iconic families in American history. Rockefeller attended Harvard to study economics, which he continued at the London School of Economics. He then completed a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. There are several philanthropic organizations that reflect the Rockefeller name, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Rockefeller Family Fund. The more modest David Rockefeller Fund, which David originally established with his late wife, Margaret "Peggy" Rockefeller, funds environment/food justice, arts, and criminal justice

The Fund's environment program seeks to "address issues related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in order to promote a healthier, more sustainable planet." The fund's annual grantmaking has been steady, but the size of average grants hasn't been particularly overwhelming, with annual giving in the low hundred-thousands. Still, this is a good funder to have on your radar screen.

Rockefeller gives to a mix of local and national environmental outfits. On the local level, through its community program, New York City, Westchester County, Columbia County in upstate New York and Maine have been sites of modest but steady environmental support.

Similar support also gone to Friends Rockefeller State Park Preserve, an outfit that serves the eponymous state park whose ties to the Rockefeller family date back to the late 1800s.

Appalachia appears to be another region of particular recent interest to Rockefeller. Apart from the Kentucky Coalition, the Mountain Association for Community Development (MACED) received a grant from the foundation in 2013 and $25,000 in 2012. MACED advocates for Central Appalachian residents and the region's natural resources. 

You can access a full rundown of past grantees here.

It's worth noting that Rockefeller made a bequest of $25 million to the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. This brings up another interesting element of Rockefeller's long history of philanthropy. He's already pledged around $600 million to various organizations upon his death. Still, given that the 99-year-old Rockefeller is worth around $3 billion, we wouldn't be surprised if big money found it's way to other philanthropic causes, including beefing up the David Rockefeller Fund. 


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only).