The Rockefeller Foundation celebrates its centennial year under the banner of the theme “Innovation for the Next 100 Years."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaims May 14th as Rockefeller Foundation Day.
The Rebuild by Design competition is initiates to develop ideas capable of dramatically improving the resilience of coastal areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy. The Foundation’s $3.5 million in funding leverages nearly a billion in federal funds.
100 Resilient Cities is launched to help cities around the world become more resilient to physical, social, and economic challenges.
The Digital Jobs Africa initiative is announced by Judith Rodin at the World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. The $100 million initiative aims to leverage the growing information communications technology sector to create jobs for high-potential yet disadvantaged youth.
The Rockefeller Foundation announces a $1.2 million grant supporting local efforts to establish Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh.
Funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, the release of the report “On Norms and Agency: Conversations about Gender Equality with Women and Men in 20 Countries” represents the largest qualitative data set ever collected on the topic of gender norms and their role in development.
The 2012 Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Challenge receives 2,000 submissions and the eight winners are given the opportunity to apply for $100,000 grants to implement their ideas for addressing water insecurity, food insecurity, and challenges posed by urbanization.
On October 29th, Superstorm Sandy makes landfall on the east coast of the United States, killing 72 people and causing $68 billion in damages. President Judith Rodin co-chairs the NYS 2100 Commission convened by Governor Andrew Cuomo to recommend actions to prepare New York to more effectively respond to, and bounce back from, future storms and other shocks.
Universal Health Coverage is moved into the spotlight. In partnership with the WHO, a planning meeting is held on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and universal health coverage is emphasized as critical at Rio+20. The United Nations passes a Resolution making universal health coverage a key global health objective.
In response to evolving needs for building more inclusive economies in Latin America, The Rockefeller Foundation hosts the first in a series of impact investing convenings in São Paulo, Brazil. This culminates in the launch of a regional grant, the Impact Economy Innovations Fund.
A grant awarded to the UN Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat launches a program to inform governments, media, and the public about the role of women in solving climate change.
Teaming with BRAC, a leading NGO in Bangladesh, innovative mobile-health solutions are tested to improve services that address maternal and children’s health.
Following the success of Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation (HARITA), a weather-indexed micro-insurance system, the Foundation joins with the United Nations World Food Programme to scale the model to a four-country Rural Resilience Initiative
The Innovation Forum’s fist Innovation Awards are presented to Dr. Sania Nishtar of Pakistan, Jane Weru of Kenya, the global organization Kiva Kids, and President Bill Clinton.
The annual Innovation Forum is launched to gather some of the most creative and inventive minds to bear on challenges facing poor and vulnerable people around the world.
Partnering with USAID, The Rockefeller Foundation invests $25 million in the African Agricultural Capital Fund with the goal of growing small and medium-sized enterprises in the agriculture sector.
Having been catalyzed by the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance Network completes its third stage of development in forming multinational collaborations to slow the spread of disease.
In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is launched to address food insecurity in Africa. New seed varieties, innovative water management, and a Market Access Program increase crop production and income for farming families.
The Rockefeller Foundation invests $22 million in its Disease Surveillance Networks Initiative to help contain the spread of infectious diseases and pandemics by strengthening national, regional and global disease surveillance and response systems.
The Transforming Health Systems initiative awards more than $17.5 million in grants to engage local entrepreneurs, public and private organizations, and global health experts to focus on strengthening approaches to health systems stewardship, e- and mobile health approaches, and private sector integration.
The Transportation Initiative achieves a major milestone when a Foundation-supported campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulted in the California Air Resources Board approving aggressive standards for the state.
Support for researchers at Yale University led to the development of the Economic Security Index (ESI), a key to unlocking a better understanding of economic security and addressing the problems workers face.
The Foundation launches its Impact Investing initiative to help accelerate the growth of the field. Impact investing is investments intended to generate both a social or environmental impact, as well as a financial return for investors.
Nobel Peace Laureate, and "father of the Green Revolution" Norman Borlaug dies after a lifetime of contributions to the productivity of global agriculture and food security.
The Foundation’s Transforming Health Systems initiative is launched in Nairobi, Kenya, to expand health coverage and provide new health and financial protections for people in low-income countries.
The Rockefeller Foundation announces the formation of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network initiative to create robust models and methodologies for assessing and addressing climate change risks.
U.S. President Barack Obama announces initiatives that emerged from recommendations made by Rockefeller Foundation-supported grantees for developing tools for American workers to save more and better weather periods of economic uncertainty.
The Impact Investing initiative supports the launch of the Global Impacting Investing Network (GIIN), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing.
The Foundation launches the Campaign for American Workers to create tools and policies to strengthen the social and economic security of Americans.
Following the Foundation’s Global Urban Summit, the Foundation publishes "Century of the City," a book that shares the diverse perspectives, creative approaches, and urgent agenda for harnessing the vast opportunities of urbanization for a better world.
The Foundation’s Bellagio Center hosts the "Making the eHealth Connection" conference series, an international exploration of innovative uses of technology to improve health care for poor and vulnerable people around the world.
With the United States on the verge of an economic crisis, a Rockefeller Foundation/TIME magazine poll reveals that Americans’ concerns over their finances have doubled.
The winners of the inaugural Jane Jacobs Medal are announced, celebrating those urban activists who embody the legacy of Jane Jacobs, a Rockefeller grantee.
Acknowledging the links among artistic, scientific, and social advances, the first annual New York City Cultural Innovation Fund awards grants to 18 innovative arts organizations and projects.
Nearly 21 months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the City Planning Commission adopts the "citywide strategic recovery and rebuilding plan" developed by the United New Orleans Plan, funded by The Rockefeller Foundation.
The Foundation hosts a Pocantico forum to address new initiatives and opportunities in global health.
The Rockefeller Foundation convenes a Global Urban Summit at our Bellagio Center, bringing together international experts, including grassroots organizers and financiers, to explore solutions to the challenges of the fast-paced, unplanned growth of cities.
The Foundation launches a sweeping Climate Change Resilience initiative.
The Foundation sponsors a fertilizer summit in Abuja, Nigeria, that brings together 40 African governments. The goal of the summit was to promote the removal of taxes and tariffs on fertilizer, support an emerging network of agro-dealers, and create a program through the African Development Bank to finance the production and distribution of fertilizer.
Together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation commits $150 million to train and support African scientists in developing improved seed varieties and to help African farmers gain access to modern plant-breeding techniques.
The Foundation makes a $3.5 million grant to support a unified planning process to help the revitalization of 73 neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, setting the stage for the city to receive significant federal funds.
Japan establishes the Dr. Hideyo Noguchi prize to be awarded every five years for contributions to the fight against disease in Africa. Dr. Noguchi joined the Rockefeller Institute in 1904. He researched diseases until his death from yellow fever in 1928.
Judith Rodin becomes president of The Rockefeller Foundation, the first woman to hold the position in the history of the institution.
The Foundation commits $8 million to accelerate the development and availability of safe and effective microbicides for use by women in developing countries to prevent HIV transmission.
The Foundation renews its commitment to the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa.
The Foundation commits $3 million for housing and economic redevelopment in response to Hurricane Katrina.
The Foundation convenes a Joint Learning Initiative on Human Resources for Health (JLI-HRH), which brought the crisis of HRH in developing countries and the international brain drain of doctors and nurses to the top of the international agenda.
The Foundation funds Living Cities, a partnership of foundations, financial institutions, government agencies, and local community development corporations to assist in the redevelopment of inner-city neighborhoods, including affordable housing, in 23 cities across the United States.
The Foundation convenes several foundations to support integrated AIDS care for mothers and their families in Africa. The initiative, called MTCT Plus, was launched by the Secretary General of the United Nations and helped catalyzed WHO’s call to treat millions of people living with AIDS in poor countries.
The Foundation joins the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in supporting the improvement of higher-education institutions in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries.
James F. Orr III becomes chair of the board of trustees.
The Foundation supports the creation of the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance Network to strengthen national and sub-regional capabilities in disease surveillance and response to outbreaks of priority diseases in the six countries of the region.
Gordon Conway becomes the Foundation's president and serves until 2004.
The Foundation introduces an initiative on public-private partnerships in research and development for neglected diseases of poverty to support the establishment of the Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, the International Partnership on Microbicides, the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative, and the Centre for the Management of Intellectual Property Rights in Health R&D.
The final group of Social Science Research Fellows in Agriculture is selected. Established in 1975, this program enables young social scientists to work on agricultural and rural development projects while based at universities and research institutions in developing countries.
The Foundation announces a new initiative on Global Health Equity to establish the conceptual foundations for considering equity in health with empirical assessments of the scale and nature of health inequities and assessments of relevant policy implications.
The Foundation approves the third and final round of funding for the National Community Development Initiative. HUD and more than 1,400 corporate and philanthropic donors will provide $253 million over the next decade and leverage more than $2 billion in local funding for community development.
Scientists in the Foundation’s rice biotechnology network discover that all cereals have essentially the same basic genes as rice, an insight that allows much of what has been learned in the rice biotechnology program to be applied to maize, wheat, sorghum, and other cereals.
The Foundation publishes a report, “Stories of Renewal: Community Building and the Future of Urban America,” a compilation of two decades of lessons drawn from community-building around the country. It becomes a nationwide guide for this burgeoning field.
For the first time, the Foundation’s endowment exceeds $3 billion.
The Foundation convenes experts in HIV/AIDS to find ways for industry, philanthropy, development and health agencies to collaborate in finding an AIDS vaccine that would be affordable and available throughout the world. The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) emerges from that effort, along with four other partnerships to develop and manufacture safe, effective, affordable treatments for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and dengue fever, as well as a microbicide that women can administer on their own to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
“What Matters Most,” the National Commission on Teaching for America’s Future’s blueprint for revolutionizing the teaching profession in the United States, is widely hailed and implemented in 12 states. The Foundation conceived and funded the project.
Alice Stone Ilchman becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 2000.
A Foundation-funded team of American and Asian scientists clone a gene for resistance against bacterial blight, a disease that attacks rice worldwide. When transferred to susceptible varieties, the gene yields excellent resistance.
The Foundation begins the Next Step: Jobs initiative with the Corporation for Supportive Housing to integrate employment services into supportive housing centers in three cities. By 1997, employment rates double in these 3,000 supportive housing units.
The final group of Biotechnology Career Fellows is selected. Launched in 1984, this program supports 183 fellows to update their biotechnology skills and develop collaborative research projects. Many of these scientists have since risen to prominent research positions in their home countries.
The Population Sciences program initiates a 10-year program to make quality family planning and reproductive health available to every couple in the world who wants it.
The Foundation joins with the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank to form the Children’s Vaccine Initiative (CVI) to protect the world’s children against viral and bacterial diseases. CVI’s goal is to vaccinate every child in the world against these common, preventable childhood illnesses.
The Foundation brings together a number of foundations, federal governments and financial institutions to help rebuild and revitalize inner cities in the United States. This collaboration becomes known as the National Community Development Initiative (NCDI).
With Foundation funding, scientists at Cornell University create a detailed molecular genetic map of rice and disseminate to rice breeders worldwide to facilitate the creation of improved varieties.
Working with other organizations, the Foundation launches a program to identify, train, and support the next generation of leaders in ecologically sound development. Each year, Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) helps identify 15 associates from each of nine major countries and three regions to participate.
With several national conferences organized by scholars at the University of Houston, the Foundation launches a long-term research, preservation, and publishing project to recover the Hispanic literary heritage of the United States.
The Foundation launches three initiatives: a global environmental program, a domestic program of school reform, and a program in international security.
The exhibition “Facing History: The Black Image in American Art, 1710-1940,” organized by the Corcoran Gallery and supported through the Rockefeller Foundation Museums Program, is the first comprehensive and historical examination of how America’s leading artists have portrayed African-Americans.
Building on the success of the Great Neglected Diseases program, the Foundation inaugurates a tropical disease research program in cooperation with the World Health Organization.
The Foundation introduces a plan to examine the market for cassava—a shrubby plant grown for its edible root—in nine Sub-Saharan countries. The study is conceived as a parallel to biotechnology research and is aimed at ensuring that research and development matches the actual needs of the farmers and consumers who depend on cassava.
Arts and Humanities officers organize the first of two seminal conferences with the Smithsonian Institution on the presentation and interpretation of cultural diversity in museums. The proceedings are published as “Exhibiting Cultures” and “Museums and Communities” and become important sources for museums, curators, scholars, and educators over the following decade.
Peter C. Goldmark Jr. becomes president of The Rockefeller Foundation and serves until 1997.
John R. Evans becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 1995.
The Foundation launches a major program to attack persistent poverty in American cities. An early grant of $1.2 million supports start-up, national research and operations in Denver, Oakland, Washington, DC, Boston, Cleveland, and San Antonio.
A grant to the African Fertility Society enables scientists from 10 Sub-Saharan countries to collaborate on family-planning procedures that minimize the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
The Foundation establishes a fellowship program to support independent film, video, and multimedia artists in the United States. In 1992, the fellowships are expanded to include Latin American filmmakers.
Foundation-supported researchers develop a method to regenerate whole rice plants from rice protoplast, a major breakthrough in the genetic engineering of cereal plants.
Acting on the recommendation of a 1984 trustee task force, the Foundation commits $250-$300 million over the next five years to launch its International Program to Support Science-Based Development, designed to improve living standards in developing countries by promoting more equitable and effective uses of science and technology.
Norplant, a long-lasting contraceptive capsule implanted under the skin of the arm, is approved in 43 countries after two decades of research and extensive international testing. The contraceptive, developed by the Population Council with Foundation support, is approved for use in the US in 1990.
The Foundation undertakes a grants program to help African, Asian and Latin American scientists collaborate on biomedical research relating to the use of contraceptives—a pioneering “South-to-South” venture.
A fellowship program for foreign language teachers in US high schools is initiated, providing opportunities for summer study abroad.
The Foundation launches a major long-term program on genetic plant engineering.
Grants of $1 million each are made to Columbia University and to a joint program at the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University to foster research and training in Soviet foreign policy and behavior.
Clifton R. Wharton Jr. becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 1987.
The Foundation launches a six-year demonstration effort to address the needs of single minority women who head households. The program eventually trains more than 2,500 women for employment through community-based organizations in four cities.
The Foundation launches the International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN) to design less costly and more effective health policies. The Network will expand over time to centers at 40 medical schools in 18 developing countries, where physicians learn how to conduct research on their countries’ most serious health problems.
Richard W. Lyman becomes president of the Rockefeller Foundation and serves until 1988.
After three decades of being unwelcome in China, the Foundation re-enters the country by responding to a request from Chinese officials to assist in establishing an Institute of Developmental and Reproductive Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
The Foundation sponsors a commission to assess the condition of the humanities in America and make recommendations. Issued five years later, its report—The Humanities in American Life—identifies a crisis in the quality of American public education.
The Foundation approves the first of a series of appropriations over the course of a decade to create an international network of biomedical research groups to study the “great neglected diseases” of the developing world. Diseases include sleeping sickness, leprosy, malaria, schistosomiasis, hookworm, river blindness and childhood diarrhea. By the program’s end, 360 trained scientists have collaborated in 26 countries.
Theodore M. Hesburgh becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 1982.
Cyrus R. Vance becomes chair of the Foundation's board of trustees and serves until 1977.
The Foundation supports modern dance and ballet companies led by Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Laura Dean, Martha Graham and Robert Joffrey to create new works.
To commemorate the bicentennial of the United States, the Foundation supports the Recorded Anthology of American Music, which creates a comprehensive set of recordings of American music for distribution to selected libraries, music schools and other nonprofit institutions in the U.S. and abroad. A total of 7,000 sets are distributed, the Foundation’s “bicentennial gift to the American people.”
The Foundation funds the International Agricultural Development Service (IADS), designed to provide technical assistance in agricultural and rural development to developing countries. Over the next decade, the Foundation contributes nearly $8 million toward operational costs. In 1985, IADS merges with the Agricultural Development Council and Winrock International Livestock Research and Training Center to form Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development.
Women’s studies are supported with grants to Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, the Berkshire Conference on Women’s History, an interdisciplinary graduate program in women’s studies at Sarah Lawrence, and a program on women and religion at Harvard Divinity School
A new program focuses on supporting social history projects, including the history of women, family history, and the use of oral history and film to document American cultural heritage.
John H. Knowles becomes president of the Rockefeller Foundation and serves until 1979.
The Foundation’s New York City archives are opened to the public. Two years later, the Rockefeller Archive Center begins operations in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
The Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) is established to develop improved food crop varieties for the developing world. Beginning with four research centers funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, CGIAR expands to 16 centers supported by 39 international donors.
C. Douglas Dillon becomes chair of the Foundation's board of trustees and serves until 1975.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, a Foundation agricultural scientist, for his pivotal role in modernizing agriculture in the developing world. This effort becomes popularly known as the Green Revolution, a term coined two years earlier by William S. Gaud, former director of United States Aid for International Development (USAID).
Family planning units for university research and teaching are established at Baylor University, Cornell University, the University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina, Case Western Reserve University, Tulane University and the University of Washington in the US, and abroad at the University of Chile, the Universidad del Valle in Colombia, and Hacettepe University in Turkey.
A shift in direction of the Equal Opportunity program leads to Foundation support of projects dealing with problems in the inner city—studies on the nature and causes of urban ghettos; the training of minority leaders and the improvement of elementary and secondary schools through the training of black educators to be principals and superintendents.
The Foundation supports new dance companies (Eliot Feld Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, Agnes de Mille Dance Theater) and experimental theaters (Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, La Mama Experimental Theater and the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater).
The Foundation begins funding the work of experimental composer Nam June Paik with a $550 grant to cover basic living expenses and the cost of art materials. At the time, Paik is experimenting with new forms combining video, music and performance work that plays a leading role in the emerging field of video art.
The Foundation gives a pioneering grant to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to expand beyond litigation and develop a division that supports the basic rights of the poor and victims of discrimination.
The Foundation initiates support for an economic demography program in Mexico that by 1974 leads to official government policy to reduce population growth. Support to other Latin American countries follows.
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is established with Rockefeller support in Mexico, a focal point for the growing international effort to improve basic food crops in the developing world.
The Foundation supports novice playwright Sam Shepard with a $5,500 grant allowing him to write full time. At that point, only one of his plays had been produced. That grant was followed by $6,800 two years later, allowing him to write and visit drama centers in Europe.
A seven-year, Foundation-administered creative writing project assists authors Ralph Ellison, Philip Roth, Rosalyn Drexler and others.
The Foundation grants $3.5 million to strengthen three black colleges: Fisk University for across-the-board development, Atlanta University for library and faculty development, and the Tuskegee Institute for academic development.
The Foundation launches its 20-year University Development (later Education for Development) program, designed to create new leadership in developing countries by aiding a few selected universities. The $125 million program emphasizes departments of agriculture, public health, medicine and social sciences. Universities are aided in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan, Thailand, the Philippines and Zaire. The total Foundation commitment comes to $550 million in current dollars.
Now in its 50th year, the Foundation reorganizes its programs under five headings: Conquest of Hunger; Population and Health; Education for Development; Equal Opportunity; and Arts, Humanities and Cultural Values.
Grants eventually totaling $85.5 million are made to: (1) recruit black students for college, including a program to enable leading private Southern universities to recruit black students for the first time in their history; (2) improve the quality of education at several black colleges; and (3) mount summer programs at Princeton, Dartmouth and Oberlin to enlarge the pool of well-prepared black college candidates.
J. George Harrar becomes president of the Rockefeller Foundation and serves until 1972.
The Foundation makes a $250,000 grant to the Southern Regional Council “because of the special urgency of problems in race relations in the United States.”
The International Rice Research Institute, the first of what will become a system of 16 international agricultural centers, is established in the Philippines.
Support to a consortium of university presses underwrites the cost of translating into English notable Latin American writers, including Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges and Octavio Paz.
The Foundation receives a bequest of the Villa Serbelloni on Lake Como, Italy. The villa, set among 50 acres of park and gardens, becomes the Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center, hosting international conferences and scholars in residence.
The Population Council receives the first of many grants, spanning 39 years and totaling more than $40 million.
Through the New School for Social Research, the Foundation grants $10,000 to writer and neighborhood activist Jane Jacobs for research into the relationship between function and design in urban environments. She receives another grant the following year for $8,000. The book resulting from that research, Jacobs’ masterpiece, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," is published in 1961.
The Foundation reestablishes relationships with former fellows now behind the iron curtain, awarding new fellowships and making grants in Poland for laboratory and library equipment.
“Corn production in Mexico has increased steadily since 1947,” reports Dr. J. George Harrar, the architect of the Rockefeller Foundation's agriculture program, later to become the Foundation president. “The country [has] been able to meet the demands of increasing population since 1947 without resorting to the importation of this basic food from abroad.” During this period, Mexico becomes a net exporter not only of corn, but of wheat and other cereals.
The government of India requests that the Foundation send a population advisory mission. The group recommends an approach that addresses maternal and child public health. A year later, India becomes the first nation to adopt an official family-planning program.
The mosquito carrying yellow fever is eradicated from 13 major Latin American countries as an outgrowth of Foundation methods developed in Brazil in the 1930s.
The Foundation begins a program of institutional support in the arts. Grants help found the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut, and support drama and other arts at Karamu House in Cleveland, one of the nation’s leading interracial centers for drama and other arts.
The Foundation supports the Growth of American Families project, the first of the national fertility studies now carried out every five years with US government support.
Harvard’s School of Public Health receives the first Foundation grant for a family planning project. In 1960, Johns Hopkins receives the second.
A decade of awards begins to scholars in international relations and in legal and political philosophy.
A $112,000 grant enables Dorothy Thomas and Simon Kuznets to undertake the first analysis of US population change, capital formation and economic activity.
John D. Rockefeller III becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 1971. Dean Rusk becomes president and serves until 1961.
Max Theiler of the Foundation’s Virus Laboratory in New York City wins the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for developing the yellow fever vaccine.
John Foster Dulles becomes Chair of the Board of Trustees and serves until 1952.
The Foundation begins its support of historical research in areas of contemporary significance. Over the next decade, it will spend nearly $7 million to support research, including interdisciplinary and interpretive work including that done by the scholars Toynbee, Braudel and Barraclough and the editing and publication of papers of American statesmen: Hamilton, Madison, Lincoln and Wilson.
A Foundation supported cooperative agricultural development program, similar to that developed in Mexico, begins in Colombia under Dr. Lewis M. Roberts.
The Foundation initiates broad-scale support for research in genetics with grants to establish centers and build entire departments at the California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Columbia University, universities in Indiana, Texas, Wisconsin and many locations abroad.
The Foundation launches a 12-year program in area studies, designed to promote research leading to “increased understanding of one culture by members of another.” Universities in the US, Canada, Great Britain, France, Turkey, Germany, India and Japan receive grants.
Erwin Chargaff, a biochemist at Columbia University, announces the "Chargaff Ratios”—This work proves critical to the 1953 Nobel Prize-winning description of the structure of DNA by James D. Watson and Francis Crick that describes the structure of DNA. Chargaff began receiving Foundation support in 1933 as an Austrian refugee fleeing from Nazi persecution.
The Foundation divisions of social sciences, health and natural sciences combine to fund the first effort to comprehensively survey socio-economic conditions in developing countries. The work is carried out on the island of Crete in order to develop techniques and procedures applicable to developing areas where an interdisciplinary approach is appropriate.
A Foundation fact-finding team visits the Far East at the urging of John D. Rockefeller III and concludes that only Asian professionals can come to grips with Asian population problems. Over the next eight years, the Foundation makes 45 grants exceeding $2.2 million toward that goal.
Chester I. Barnard becomes president of the Rockefeller Foundation and serves until 1952.
The Foundation grants $10 million to the China Medical Board as the concluding grant for Peking Union Medical College.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology receives Foundation support to study the design and construction of Vannevar Bush’s mechanical differential analyzer, the forerunner of the computer.
Further grants are made to support completion of the 200-inch telescope at Palomar Observatory, San Diego County, which received its first Foundation funds in 1928.
The Foundation’s single largest appropriation of the year, $7.5 million, goes to the General Education Board to boost its declining resources. The Board’s work is now focused almost exclusively on the promotion of education for blacks and whites across the South.
Columbia University’s Russian Institute is established with Foundation support, creating the first “area studies” center in the US. Others follow.
The Foundation establishes the Atlantic Awards to assist promising British writers “dislocated and exhausted” after the war, with 47 writers, poets and playwrights receiving awards. In the US, grants are made to Kenyon Review, Sewanee Review and Pacific Spectator to subsidize young writers. Among those authors are: Irving Howe, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, John Berryman and Elizabeth Bishop.
The American Library Association purchases and in some instances microfilms 35 sets of books and sets of 350 US scholarly journals for distribution to war-ravaged libraries in Europe and Asia. A similar program for British publications is funded by the Foundation through the Royal Society in London.
The Foundation makes a grant to the University of Virginia to support Dumas Malone for his monumental biography of Thomas Jefferson.
The first grant of an eventual $2 million total is made to develop Princeton’s Office of Population Research, which demonstrates connections between population and development in the developing world.
A Mexican agricultural program designed to increase food crop production through research and development is inaugurated on-site in cooperation with the Mexican Department of Agriculture.
A Foundation grant supports the first major study to determine the effects of forced resettlement of the Japanese population as a US war measure.
The importance of regional cultures in the US is highlighted in a program assisting the Texas State Historical Association in carrying out studies of the Southwest, the University of Wisconsin in studying the development of that state, and the Huntington Library in Pasadena for studies on the culture of the Pacific Southwest, and others.
The complete card catalog of the two-million-volume Library of Congress is reproduced by an early form of photolithography and made available to 50 leading libraries of the world, from Australia to Vatican City.
The Rockefeller Foundation supports developmental work on the electron microscope, then underwrites electron microscopy laboratories at several universities.
A decade of support for language studies, guided largely by the American Council of Learned Societies, culminates in the development of the methodology of the US Army language training program. The Foundation funds translations, grammars, dictionaries and bibliographies.
Three American scholars—E. C. Stakman, Richard Bradfield and Paul C. Magelsdorf—study the possibility of developing an agricultural program to raise the yield of Mexican agriculture, an idea first proposed to Foundation President Fosdick by then-US Vice President Henry Wallace. That research eventually leads to what becomes known as the Green Revolution, which helped end widespread hunger in Latin America, India and Southeast Asia.
The Foundation supports work to improve the design of the Van de Graaff accelerator and makes a grant to Dr. Ernest Lawrence for research on a 154-inch cyclotron—two tools of physics used to study the nuclei of atoms.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by musical titan Serge Koussevitzky, receives $60,000 to establish the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. “The significance of this plan,” reads the proposal, “lies in its national character and in its treatment of music as a living art.”
Walter W. Stewart becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 1950.
Language study and research grants encourage teaching and comprehension of less-common languages: Russian, Turkish and Arabic.
A grant to the Library of Congress enables the development of popular education programs using library materials, including 20,000 recordings in the Archives of American Folk Song.
Anopheles gambiae, a dangerous malaria-carrying mosquito, carried from Africa to Brazil, is eradicated under the leadership of the Foundation’s Dr. Fred L. Soper. A trained embryologist, Soper had been recruited by the Foundation’s International Health Board in 1918. After two years of public health training, he takes a three-week course in parasitology, focusing on hookworm, malaria and intestinal protozoa, then sets sail with his bride for Brazil to begin his first assignment.
Grants to the Authors League of America and a year later to the National Theater Conference enable more than 100 fellowships for writers, including the then-struggling author Tennessee Williams.
For more than 15 years, the Foundation supports the joint work of biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan, his successor George W. Beadle, and chemist Linus Pauling, all at the California Institute of Technology. Their collaborative work pioneers the concept of interdisciplinary research. Each later wins the Nobel Prize (Pauling wins two), placing them among the more than 221 men and women assisted by the Foundation who subsequently receive Nobel Prizes.
The first of several grants assist Australia’s Dr. H. W. Florey in developing the clinical use of penicillin.
Raymond B. Fosdick becomes president of the Rockefeller Foundation and serves until 1948.
The Foundation supports work leading to the development of two pioneering devices for biochemistry research. Grants to the University of Wisconsin leads to the development of America’s first— and the world’s third—ultracentrifuge. The Foundation also supports early work on the mass spectrometer.
In the state of Washington, more than 70,000 people attend productions of Shakespeare’s plays, produced by traveling companies supported by the Foundation.
A vaccine to prevent yellow fever is developed in the Foundation’s New York City laboratories. Over the next 16 years, the Foundation spends nearly $14 million in its fight against yellow fever, the equivalent of $200 million in current dollars.
The Foundation decides to enter new fields in the humanities and arts: libraries and museums, drama, radio, motion pictures, American studies, and the collection and interpretation of native cultural materials. A film library, established at the Museum of Modern Art, wins international recognition. A year earlier, a special trustee committee had reviewed the humanities program and found it wanting: “It frankly appears to your committee that a program in the humanities, based on a cloistered kind of research, is wide of the goal…It is getting us facts but not necessarily followers.”
For the first time, the Foundation takes up work in agriculture when trustees approve a program of rural reconstruction in China. In addition to agriculture, the new program embraces sanitation, preventive medicine (above), marketing, rural economy and community work. World War II ends the program.
Beginning in 1933 and extending for more than two decades, the Foundation expends $1.5 million in identifying and assisting 300 scientists and scholars fleeing Nazi Germany to settle in friendly locations. Many relocate to US universities.
The Foundation begins its attack on another public health hazard—schistosomiasis, a disease caused by the liver fluke carried by snails living in canals of irrigated lands—with the publication of a study of the disease in Egypt (see image from the research above).
The Foundation grants are used to establish full-time departments of psychiatry in teaching hospitals and medical schools, including Chicago, Duke, Harvard, McGill, St. Louis, Tulane, Yale and Washington.
Warren Weaver comes to the Foundation and during his 27-year association becomes the principal architect of programs in the natural sciences. He sees his task as being “to encourage the application of the whole range of scientific tools and techniques, and specially those which had been so superbly developed in the physical sciences, to the problems of living matter.” Later, Weaver would coin the term “molecular biology.”
A grants program aimed at a better understanding of reproductive biology results in fundamental work that leads to the development of better contraceptives. The National Research Council’s Committee for Research in Problems of Sex receives more than $1 million. The Foundation grants $1 million to five universities around the US for research on reproductive endocrinology.
The Great Depression brings added emphasis on social science and economics research. Grants are made to leading centers for research: the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Social Science Research Council, and the London School of Economics.
The Foundation grants support the preparation of the Dictionary of American Biography and of critical texts of Spenser and Chaucer.
The American Council of Learned Societies, which from the beginning derived most of its support from the General Education Board and then from the Foundation, receives the first of many additional grants to support fellowships in humanistic studies.
Archaeologists working on excavation of the ancient Athenian Agora receive support through grants to the American School of Classical Studies, Athens. Other early Foundation efforts in the humanities include support to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago to train archaeologists and Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum to train curators and art historians, and to build library collections abroad.
Agreement between the Foundation and the General Education Board paves the way for the Foundation to “accept responsibility for the support of the natural sciences.”
Max Mason becomes President of the Foundation and serves until 1936.
The Foundation formally embarks on programs in the social sciences, with the consolidation of the activities of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial into the Foundation. Directed by Beardsley Ruml, the memorial concentrated on increasing manpower and developing facilities for research “in a systematic investigation of concrete social problems.” A year later, the Foundation identifies three major social science fields for support: international relations, economic stabilization and public administration. Grants are for research, conferences and publications.
In a general reorganization, the work of the Foundation is consolidated into five divisions: international health, medical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.
John D. Rockefeller, Sr., makes additional gifts to RF, bringing the total of all gifts he made to RF to $182,851,480.90—equal to $2.8 billion in current dollars.
The Foundation’s hookworm campaign in Thailand commissions a “health boat” (above) to navigate rivers and klongs as a floating dispensary. The boat is also pressed into service during a 1926 cholera epidemic, with its staff administering 48,257 anticholera inoculations.
The Foundation funds a project by John Grierson to study the influence of films on public opinion. An expert on the impact of the mass media on society and later a film director, Grierson becomes famous for coining the term “documentary” for non fiction films.
Foundation Secretary Edwin R. Embree suggests a new arena for the Foundation. “Some emphasis upon the arts and humanities might be a good balance for the other features of our program which so exclusively concern science and health. What is the good to keep people alive and healthy if their lives are not touched increasingly with something of beauty?”
A major nurse education and training program begins with a five-year, $5 million pledge to Yale University for experimentation and demonstration.
Frederick T. Gates, credited with urging John D. Rockefeller Sr. to launch the Foundation says to his fellow trustees in his last meeting as member of the Board, “When you die and come to approach the judgment of Almighty God, what do you think He will demand of you? Do you for an instant presume to believe that He will inquire into your petty failures or your trivial virtues? No! He will ask just one question: ‘What did you do as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation?’"
The Foundation endows a second and third school of public health in the US at Harvard University and the University of Michigan, and launches an ambitious plan to circle the globe with schools. Spending more than $25 million over the next two decades, the Foundation helps establish schools in Prague, Warsaw, London, Toronto, Copenhagen, Budapest, Oslo, Belgrade, Zagreb, Madrid, Cluj (Romania),Ankara, Sofia, Rome, Tokyo, Athens, Bucharest, Stockholm, Calcutta, Manila and São Paulo. The total contribution to schools of public health amounts to $357 million in current dollars.
The Foundation expands our comprehensive support of medical institution, namely to include Canada’s Dalhousie University, Halifax and McGill University, Montreal.
A commission is sent to investigate the health conditions of West Africa and to gauge the spread of yellow fever.
The Certificate of Public Health program is established at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health with a class of 100 students.
The Foundation’s work in the natural sciences begins with support to the National Research Council to establish fellowships in physics and chemistry. More than $4.5 million is expended over the next 33 years to train more than 1,000 individuals.
The Foundation establishes a Division of Medical Education to help “strategically placed medical schools in various parts of the world to increase their resources and to improve their teaching and research.” Grants to medical schools follow in England, France, Belgium, Brazil, Southeast Asia, Canada, the South Pacific and other areas.
Because the Foundation’s successful hookworm campaign reveals the urgency for trained public health leaders, the Foundation identifies public health education as one of its principal areas of interest, and builds and endows the first school of public health at Johns Hopkins University. Foundation President George E. Vincent calls it “the West Point of public health.”
To honor his wife, John D. Rockefeller Sr. establishes the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, with funds totaling almost $74 million
As World War I ends, war relief efforts are substantial. The Foundation spends more than $22 million, sending food supplies to Belgium, Poland, Serbia, Armenia and other countries, even chartering its own ships. Laments President George E. Vincent, “I suppose we had to do it, and I suppose it was worthwhile, but think of the creative job we could have done with that money in a world of reason and sanity!”
Peking Union Medical College, established by the Foundation (above), opens its doors in temporary quarters to pre-medical students. According to adviser Simon Flexner, it was to be “the Johns Hopkins of China.”
John D. Rockefeller Jr. becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 1940. George E. Vincent becomes president of the Foundation and serves until 1929.
Commissions are sent to South America to learn about the status of health infrastructure battling yellow fever, as well as to investigate the medical education and public health agencies in Brazil.
Work continues on the development of an anti-tetanus serum. Additionally, meningitis and anti-dysentery serums are manufactured and supplied to the British, French, and Italian governments.
$1,000,000 is appropriated for relief to Poland and Balkan countries to address a crisis of the food supply.
The Foundation continues its War Relief efforts with support to Belgian scholar refugees, as well as by funding the relocation and care of 500 Belgian refugee children.
The China Medical Board formally votes to establish an additional medical school in Shanghai through funds designated by The Rockefeller Foundation.
Malaria, like hookworm, attracts Foundation interest. Foundation Secretary Greene calls malaria “probably the heaviest handicap on the welfare and economic efficiency of the human race.” Beginning with pilot projects in Arkansas and Mississippi, the Foundation establishes research centers in 25 locations in Latin America, Europe, the Near East and Asia.
The Foundation launches its most concentrated public health effort, aimed at yellow fever. Writes President Raymond B. Fosdick, “On no disease in the long list of human afflictions did the Rockefeller Foundation put greater emphasis or a larger proportion of time and financial support than on yellow fever.” In this 30-year effort, the Foundation sends scientists throughout Africa and Latin America to conduct research and test new approaches. Six die in the effort.
The Foundation establishes the China Medical Board to develop a system of modern medicine in that country. A report on its recommendation notes, “The need is great beyond any anticipation.”
The Foundation begins a program of international fellowships to train scholars at the world’s leading universities at the post-doctoral level. Trustee Wickliffe Rose characterizes this fundamental commitment to the education of future leaders as “backing brains.”
The New York State Legislature passes an act on April 24 incorporating the Rockefeller Foundation. The statement of purpose reads: “To promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.” New York Governor William Sulzer approves the charter on May 14.
With the Foundation incorporated, John D. Rockefeller Sr. makes gifts to the Foundation totaling $35 million, followed a year later by $65 million.
Jerome D. Greene, secretary of the Foundation and former secretary of Harvard, writes “a memorandum on principles and policies” for an early meeting of the trustees. An influential document, it establishes a rough framework for the Foundation's work. It's major points are: exclude individual charity and relief, exclude local enterprises, make sure when going into a community with a gift that the community has “its own will…and its own resources, both material and spiritual” to meet the need, avoid gifts in perpetuity, and focus on problems that “go to the root of individual or social ill-being and misery.”
The first meeting of the board of trustees is held May 22. John D. Rockefeller Jr., age 39, is elected president. Though a trustee, “Senior” does not attend this or any other future meeting of the Foundation's board, following a pattern he established with previous philanthropies. He explained, “I have not had the hardihood even to suggest how people, so much more experienced and wise in those things than I, should work out the details even of those plans with which I have had the honor to be associated.”
On December 5, the Foundation's board makes its first grant: $100,000 to the American Red Cross to purchase property for its headquarters in Washington, DC. and for “a memorial to commemorate the services of the women of the United States in caring for the sick and wounded of the Civil War.”
Influenced by Abraham Flexner’s landmark study, “Medical Education in the United States and Canada,” the Foundation makes a grant to Johns Hopkins University to extend its model “full-time” system of basic medical education to clinical departments of medicine, surgery and pediatrics. Other specialties are added later.
Health becomes a Foundation priority at the first meeting of the board when Frederick Gates, longtime advisor to John D. Rockefeller, Sr., argues that “disease is the supreme ill in human life.”
Aware of the domestic success of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for Eradication of Hookworm Disease and desirous of expanding that work overseas, the board of trustees in June appropriates its first funds for work outside the US—$25,000 to create the International Health Commission (later called a board), which launches the Foundation into international public health. This pioneering work establishes the pattern of modern public health services.
The Foundation begins its 20-year support of the Bureau of Social Hygiene. Its mission: research and education on birth control, maternal health and sex education. The Foundation also helps establish the American Social Hygiene Association to direct the scientific study of biological and social factors that influence human sexual conduct.