Rockefeller Foundation celebrates 100 years
The Rockefeller Foundation has been at the forefront of philanthropy since 1913 taking as its mantra, “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world”. Its president since 2005, Judith Rodin says: "We've tried not to be out there hectoring others to become philanthropists, but to be there as a resource for those who do want to give. We'd like to help them not make the same mistakes over and over."
It was founded by John D. Rockefeller, who founded Standard Oil, in the United States. A new history of the Foundation, says Rockefeller was “perhaps the most reviled as well as the most generous man in America”.
The Foundation pioneered strategic philanthropy, investing in ideas rather than handing out money to charities without any further involvement. Its achievements include introducing Western medicine to China and establishing schools of public health. It has also courted controversy, providing financial support to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Germany. However, it also funded a project to relocate scholars and artists, many of them Jewish, who were losing their work in Germany under the Nazis.
The foundation also funds the Bellagio Center in Northern Italy supporting writers such as Maya Angelou, Susan Sontag and Michael Ondaatje.
The Foundation is now ranked as the 16th largest in the US with total assets of $3.5 billion. To celebrate its centennial, it has launched a seven-year initiative to create digital jobs in Africa and a 100 Resilient Cities programme to help cities around the world cope with disasters.