Rockefeller Foundation: Grants for Disease

OVERVIEW: Since ending its grantmaking for global disease surveillance, Rockefeller has shifted its focus away from disease-driven research, choosing instead to address strengthening global health systems and infrastructures.

IP TAKE: Unless your disease-related work is in some way connected to Rockefeller’s priorities in health grantmaking, it’s unlikely you'll win funding from the foundation.

PROFILE: The Rockefeller Foundation, established by John D. Rockefeller and his son, has operated since 1913 with a mission to improve the well-being of people around the world. Since its inception, the foundation has focused on health programs, and that tradition continues today. Health represents one of four areas of giving, and health systems is a subcategory of that area.

As noted, the prospects for disease-related grants at Rockefeller look pretty grim. The foundation ended grantmaking for global disease surveillance in 2012 and has shifted its focus away from disease-driven research, choosing instead to strengthen global health systems and infrastructures.

Although Rockefeller continues funding a few disease surveillance programs, the majority of those grants support projects related to the 2014-2015 West African Ebola outbreak. Rockefeller directs its remaining health funds toward strengthening the structure and stability of global health systems through the implementation of universal health coverage. The foundation explains the shift as a necessary and inevitable move for most grantmakers working in the health arena.

UHC grants are awarded through the foundation’s Advance Health subprogram, Transforming Health Systems. The foundation favors large, global operations such as the World Health Organization. To get an idea of the type of organizations Rockefeller supports, including grant amounts and detailed project information, you can browse through its excellent grants database.

Rockefeller also offers health-related grants through its Health of Informal Workers program.

If you think your program aligns with Rockefeller's directives, there are a few things you should know about the grant application process. The first is that the foundation only allows unsolicited funding inquiries through an online application. The website specifies that this is not a chance to submit a proposal; it's an opportunity for Rockefeller to gain some information. Also note that very few potential candidates ever receive a proposal request, so don't be surprised if Rockefeller, as generous as it is, is a bit of a dead end for anything disease related.

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