With Help From RBF, Ploughshares Pushes Better Ties with Iran

With nuclear talks set to resume with a new round of negotiations in Vienna this week, and with the U.S. looking for help in stopping the Sunni blitzkrieg in Iraq, all eyes are on Iran.

Few peace and security groups are better positioned to make the best of this moment than the Ploughshares Fund, which has been investing heavily this year in work to reduce tensions between Iran and the U.S. and its allies—with hefty support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. 

The organization's experts regularly join panel discussions and contribute in major media outlets, and they engage in public advocacy campaigns to support non-military options to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. 

Ploughshares is a passthrough outfit that both raises money and makes grants. And while it works globally for a nuclear-free world, it has focused heavily in recent years on the dangerous situation with Iran. 

Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione has argued that things have been moving in the right direction since last fall's interim deal on Iran's nuclear program, saying that the deal is working and addressing key concerns voiced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At a recent colloquium in Washington, Cirincione expressed his belief that “barring some external event” (i.e. Congressional imposition of new sanctions), a comprehensive agreement with Iran is within our reach.

So where is Ploughshares getting the funding to double down on Iran? A major contributor is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In March, RBF gave Ploughshares a one-year $500,000 grant specifically for its Iran program, with the goal “advancing just and durable peace.” RBF has also been a major donor to Ploughshares’ Iran program in previous years, providing a grant of $1 million in 2013 and two separate grants, also totaling $1 million, in May and June of 2012.

Reducing tensions with Iran has long been a significant focus of RBF’s Peacebuilding program, as Inside Philanthropy has previously reported. In fact, it's hard to think of a funder who has done more to address this long stewing crisis, one of the top international security challenges of recent years.

Two other RBF grant recipients this March were the National Iranian American Council and The Foundation for a Civil Society. The National Iranian American Council received their grant specifically for its project “The Outside Game: Beyond Netroots – Developing the Grassroots Infrastructure to Win on Diplomacy.”

It remains to be seen whether the U.S., Iran and other countries can successfully reach a lasting deal to stop Iran’s nuclear program. But if such a deal does emerge, we'd bet that Ploughshares and RBF will stay on the case to ensure that the agreement is successfully implemented in coming years.