Moments in Time: 1990 – 1999



  • 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 US.


  • 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.
  • 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 Foundation funding, a detailed molecular genetic map of rice is developed at Cornell University and disseminated to rice breeders worldwide to facilitate the creation of improved varieties.
  • The Foundation brings together a number of foundations, federal governments and financial institutions to help rebuild US inner cities. This collaboration becomes known as the National Community Development Initiative (NCDI), which contributes to the revitalization of distressed inner-city communities across the US.


  • 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 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 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.


  • 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 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 that becomes a nationwide guide for this burgeoning field.
  • “What Matters Most,” the National Commission on Teaching for America’s Future’s blueprint for revolutionizing the teaching profession in the US, is widely hailed and implemented in 12 states. RF conceived and funded the project.
  • The Foundation convenes experts in HIV/AIDS to explore the feasibility of bringing together industry, philanthropy, development and health agencies to collaborate in finding an AIDS vaccine that would be affordable and available throughout the world. Out of that effort emerges the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and four other partnerships to develop and manufacture safe, effective, affordable treatments for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis,  and dengue fever, and a microbicide that women can administer on their own to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
  • For the first time, the value of the Foundation’s endowment exceeds $3 billion.


  • The final group of Social Science Research Fellows in Agriculture is selected. Begun 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.
  • Scientists in the Foundation’s rice biotechnology network make the discovery 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 approves the third and final round of funding for the National Community Development Initiative. HUD and more than 1,400 donors from corporate and philanthropic communities provide $253 million over the next decade and leverage more than $2 billion in local funding for community development.
  • 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.


  • 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 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