Rockdale Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: Rockdale focuses its international grantmaking on education, leadership, children and youth. Grants are geographically restricted to Sub-Saharan Africa with an emphasis on Sierra Leone.

IP TAKE: Rockdale supports groups that take an asset-based development approach to their work. In other words, the foundation prioritizes grantees that put existing community resources to use and leverage those strengths to fill local development gaps.

PROFILE: Bob Pattillo and Katy Barksdale founded the Rockdale Foundation in 1994, named after their deep personal connection with Rockdale County, Georgia. During its early years, the foundation focused its international grantmaking on microfinance organizations in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2010, Rockdale decided to expand its international reach to include education, leadership, children and youth programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a major focus on the country of Sierra Leone. It seeks to "partner with local leaders striving to help vulnerable children and youth achieve wholeness ." It prioritizes giving to community development, education, and social enterprise.   

Rockdale predominately focuses on giving to education, which receives about 60 percent of the foundation’s grant dollars. Grants are relatively modest, and between $10,000 and $40,000. A majority of the foundation’s grants support education and training programs to benefit impoverished and vulnerable children.

Although Rockdale does not name water, sanitation and hygiene, health and healthcare priority funding areas, it occasionally awards a small number of grants to support such projects.

Rockdale emphasizes strong, ethical leadership in its grantmaking and prioritizes funding projects in their early stages. The foundation also likes to see projects with demonstrable scaling indications backed by strong data. The foundation has two funding cycles each year in the Spring and Fall. Rockdale does not accept unsolicited letters of inquiry or grant applications.

PEOPLE: 

  • Kathleen Barksdale, President
  • Jody Stephenson, Executive Director 

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