Rockefeller Brothers Fund

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Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Motto Philanthropy for an Interdependent World
Formation 28 December 1940; 76 years ago (28 December 1940)
Founder John, Nelson, Winthrop, Laurance, and David Rockefeller
Headquarters New York, New York
Products Grant-making
Key people
Stephen B. Heintz
Endowment $870 million (2017)[1]

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) is a philanthropic foundation created and run by members of the Rockefeller family. It was founded in New York City in 1940 as the primary philanthropic vehicle for the five third-generation Rockefeller brothers: John D. Rockefeller III, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop and David. It is distinct from the Rockefeller Foundation. The Rockefellers are an industrial, political, and banking family that made one of the world's largest fortunes in the oil business during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Fund's stated mission is to "advance social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world."[2] The current president of RBF is Stephen Heintz, who was appointed to the post in 2000.[3] Valerie Rockefeller Wayne serve as RBF's chairwoman. She succeeded Richard Rockefeller, the fifth child of David Rockefeller, who served as RBF's chairman until his death in 2014.[4]


The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was established in 1940 by the five sons of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The five Rockefeller brothers served as the Fund's first five trustees. In 1951, the Fund grew substantially when it received a $58 million endowment from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.[5]

As the RBF's founding generation passed on, new family members joined the board, moving the Fund's giving further to the political left.[6] In 1999, the Fund merged with the Charles E. Culpepper Foundation.[5]

In November 2006, David Rockefeller pledged $225 million to the Fund that would create the David Rockefeller Global Development Fund after his death.[7]

In September 2014, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced that it planned to divest its assets from fossil fuels.[8] On disinvesting from fossil fuels, the president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Steven Heintz, said: "We see this as both a moral imperative and an economic opportunity" (30 September 2014).[9]

Special Studies Project[edit]

From 1956 to 1960, the Fund financed a study conceived by its then president, Nelson Rockefeller, to analyze the challenges facing the United States. Henry Kissinger was recruited to direct the project. Seven panels were constituted that looked at issues including military strategy, foreign policy, international economic strategy, governmental reorganization, and the nuclear arms race.[10]

The military subpanel's report was rush-released about two months after the USSR launched Sputnik in October 1957.[11] Rockefeller urged the Republican Party to adopt the finding of the Special Studies Project as its platform. The findings of the project formed the framework of Nelson Rockefeller's 1960 presidential election platform.[12] The project was published in its entirety in 1961 as Prospect for America: The Rockefeller Panel Reports. The archival study papers are stored in the Rockefeller Archive Center at the family estate.[13]


Further reading[edit]

  • Harr, John Ensor, and Peter J. Johnson, The Rockefeller Century: Three Generations of America's Greatest Family, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988.
  • Nielsen, Waldemar, The Big Foundations, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1973.
  • Rockefeller, David, Memoirs, New York: Random House, 2002.


  1. ^ "Endowment Summary". Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  2. ^ "About The Fund". Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  3. ^ Nauffts, Mitch (5 November 2000). "Stephen B. Heintz: A Conversation With the President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund". Philanthropy News Digest. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Santora, Marc (13 June 2014). "Son of David Rockefeller Dies in Small-Plane Crash". New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Ciger, Joseph Charles. Philanthropists and Foundation Globalization. Transaction Publishers. p. 101. ISBN 9781412806732. 
  6. ^ Horowitz, David; Laskin, Jacob. The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money-Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America's Future. Crown Publishing Group. p. 45. ISBN 9780307716477. 
  7. ^ "David Rockefeller Pledges $225 Million to Family Fund (Update1)". Retrieved October 2, 2015. 
  8. ^ Iyengar, Rishi (22 September 2014). "The Rockefellers Are Pulling Their Charity Fund Out of Fossil Fuels". Time. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  9. ^ Cited in Tim Flannery, Atmosphere of Hope. Solutions to the Climate Crisis, Penguin Books, 2015, pages 117 (ISBN 9780141981048). Opening quote for the chapter ten entitles "Divestment and the carbon bubble".
  10. ^ Ferguson, Niall (2015). Kissinger 1923-1968: The Idealist. Penguin. ISBN 9780698195691. 
  11. ^ Rushed release of military subpanel's report - see Cary Reich, The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller: Worlds to Conquer, 1908-1958, New York: Doubleday, 1996. (pp.650-667)
  12. ^ Andrew III, John (Summer 1998). "Cracks in the Consensus: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund Special Studies Project and Eisenhower's America". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 28: 535–552. JSTOR 27551900. 
  13. ^ Rockefeller Archive Center

External links[edit]