Between 2010 and 2014, the Rockefeller Brothers fund made 44 grants totaling $3.4 million to support the civic and political participation of immigrants in New York City. But it’s a new year and priorities are changing.
To kick off 2015, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) announced that it has revised its New York City program guidelines and will be phasing out its local immigration funding. In recent years, this type of funding has supported immigration forums, academic research, policy advocacy and tools for dissemination of best practices. RBF says that its funding "helped bring local voices and innovative thinking to the national immigration discussion." Grants went to groups such as the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s New Americans Campaign
RBF began awarding civic and political participation grants due to the federal government’s inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The fund saw the need to help fill this vacuum by bolstering efforts at the local level.
Now, though, RBF thinks the immigration debate has moved to a different place and it wants to shift the focus of its New York funding to other areas, with art and the environment moving to the forefront.
Immigrant groups in New York could still see support from RBF, but for other kinds of work. According to a press release, “Staff will be exploring a variety of options for the future of the New York arts and culture grantmaking during 2015, including opportunities to contribute to immigrant integration through cultural expression.”
So for now, cultural groups need to get more creative than political to keep in touch with RBF. The fund was contributing an average of $845,000 per year on the democratic practice portfolio, but we expect to see those funds more widely disbursed across multiple program areas now. This year, RBF will be funding sustainable development grants that support community and waterfront development and engage ethnic groups in developing a fair and clean energy economy. RBF arts and culture grants will be going to small and mid-size institutions that assist individual artists, that have budgets under $4 million, and are community-based or culturally specific.