Four Things to Know About David Rockefeller's Environmental Philanthropy

After David Rockefeller retired from Chase, he and his late wife Peggy founded the David Rockefeller Fund in 1989. In 2001, the fund expanded and Rockefeller invited his children, grandchildren and their spouses to take a more active role in grantmaking. David Rockefeller is now 99 years old.

The Rockefeller family legacy on the environment dates back to the late 1800s, when William and then John Rockefeller purchased land and property on what would eventually would be called Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Westchester County, New York. Many greatest hits of conservation giving would follow, from Acadia to Grand Teton to the Virgin Islands, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is one place where this legacy continues in a big way.

But what is the much smaller fund named after David Rockefeller doing these days? Here are a few things to know:

1. Grantmaking Is Modest But Steady

In 2013, the fund gave around $355,000 toward environmental outfits and the year before, around $260,000. Grants rarely exceed $50,000 and in 2013 alone a quick rundown reveals modest funding: Natural Resources Council of Maine received $2,500, Historic Hudson Valley received $10,000 and Added Value in Brooklyn received $20,000. A lot of these outfits show up on Rockefeller's annual grantmaking list, so while the annual sums haven't been overwhelming, they've been consistent. Rockefeller appears to have a select few outfits which it supports.

2. Maine is an Important Focus the Fund's Philanthropy

Rockefeller's late wife Peggy founded Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which has received support from the fund. But grantmaking in Maine, where the Rockefellers have a long history, extend to much more than this one outfit. A recent list of grantees includes: College of the Atlantic, which offers an interdisciplinary human ecology program, Friends of Acadia, Island Institute, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and the Nature Conservancy's Maine Chapter. Outside of the environment, other organizations in Maine have received support.

It's worth noting that the fund's environmental support comes through two programs, "environment "and "community." In the fund's community program, Maine is one of the regions that is supported, along with Westchester and Columbia County, both which have similar grantmaking trails that often include environmental outfits. 

3. The Fund's Grantmaking Extends to Other Regions

Apart from Maine, New York State and New York City, a recent $50,000 grant to Groundswell in Washington D.C. supported the outfit's Community Energy Purchase Initiative, organizing "faith and mission-based institutions to purchase renewably sourced energy together." Funds have also gone to ReAMP, the Kentucky Coalition, Food Corps and Added Value. These sums are generally between $20,000 and $50,000 annually. Appalachia appears to be another preferred region of the fund, count this as another funder who's part of the "war on coal."

4. There's More on The Way 

Rockefeller is a signatory of the giving pledge and has a fortune estimated $3 billion. Rockefeller has pledged at least $600 million to various organizations upon his death. In the environment area, one bequest includes $25 million to the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. It's not clear how much money, if any, will go to the David Rockefeller Fund, but a big bequest is slated for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which will bolster the capacity of that activist environmental funder.  


David Rockefeller Fund Grants for Conservation

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