Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Grants

OVERVIEW: Founded by the late Arkansas governor, this funder prioritizes Arkansas and supports education, economic, and racial/social justice causes in the state. It accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry throughout the year.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, economic development, and racial/social/economic justice in Arkansas

IP TAKE: Poverty has been the big issue for this funder for a long time. However, grant seekers should try to connect their poverty alleviation proposal into equality of some type, whether racial, social, or economic.

PROFILE:  The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation was initially established as the Rockwin Fund in 1954 and became the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in 1974. After Rockefeller was in the army, he settled in Arkansas, and he was selected as the chairman of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. He was elected governor of the state in 1966. The foundation seeks to “improve the lives of Arkansans in three related areas: education, economic development, and economic, racial, and social justice.”

This funder prioritizes closing educational and economic gaps for Arkansas families living in poverty. Racial and social equality were passions of the late governor and still impact foundation grantmaking today. It seeks to increase prosperity for Arkansas residents that are living below the poverty line and to increase high school and college graduation rates. It also seeks to boost economic mobility in local communities and help local nonprofits build organizational effectiveness.

For all of its programs, WRF accepts and reviews funding inquiries on an ongoing basis. It uses a letter of intent to get the process started. Grant seekers should keep in mind that this is primarily a program/project funder that does not make grants to capital expenditures, operating support for budget shortfalls, or scientific research. Also, all programs must directly and significantly impact the lives of Arkansas residents.

To learn more about WRF’s vision for the years ahead, grant seekers can check out Moving the Needle: 2014-2019 Strategic Plan. They can also view a list of recent grantees on the foundation website to get a better sense of the types of local causes WRF funds. Grants tend to vary in amount.

In addition to grants, WRF also works with nonprofits as a consultant for things like board development organizational development, and fiscal management. WRF makes mission-related and program-related investments, using investing as a tool for supporting the foundation’s mission. It also makes a habit of working with policymakers and stakeholders to form partnerships to further mutual goals.

The foundation is led by a staff consisting of senior leadership, a grants and operations team, and program teams split between the prosperity and infrastructure programs and the education and community programs. General questions can be directed to the Little Rock-based staff at 501-376-6854 or Inquiries about grants should be directed to the program staff at


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