- 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 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, 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 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 and offered a human face to the plight of health systems in the world.
- Judith Rodin becomes the Foundation's president.
- The Foundation commits $3 million for housing and economic redevelopment in response to hurricane Katrina.
- The Foundation renews its commitment to the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa.
- The Foundation commits $8 million for a mission to prevent HIV transmission by accelerating the development and availability of safe and effective microbicides for use by women in developing countries.
- The Foundation sponsors a fertilizer summit in Abuja, Nigeria, that brings together 40 African governments to promote the removal of taxes and tariffs on fertilizer, support an emerging network of agrodealers, and create a program through the African Development Bank to finance the production and distribution of fertilizer.
- 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.
- The Foundation makes a $3.5 million grant to support a planning process to help the city of New Orleans prepare a comprehensive rebuilding strategy for all 73 neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina, setting the stage for the city to receive significant federal funds.
- Together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation commits $150 million to African agriculture over the next five years. The goal: to train and support African scientists in developing and delivering improved seed varieties and to help African farmers gain access to modern plant-breeding techniques.
- Inaugural Jane Jacobs Medal winners announced, celebrating the innovative accomplishments of urban activists.
- The Foundation launches sweeping Climate Change Resilience initiative.
- The Rockefeller Foundation convenes a Global Urban Summit at its Bellagio Center, bringing together international experts, from grassroots organizers to financiers, to explore solutions to the challenges of the fast-paced, unplanned growth of cities.
- The Foundation hosts a Pocantico forum to address new initiatives and opportunities in global health.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Foundation launches the Campaign for American Workers to create tools and policies to strengthen the social and economic security of Americans.
- With the country on the verge of an economic crisis, a Rockefeller Foundation/TIME magazine poll reveals that Americans’ concerns over their finances have doubled.
- 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.
- 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 launches its Impact Investing initiative, to help solve social and environmental problems while generating financial profit.
- 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.
- US President Barack Obama announces savings initiatives that emerged from recommendations by Rockefeller Foundation-supported grantees, who suggested developing tools for helping American workers save more and become better able to weather periods of economic uncertainty.
- The Rockefeller Foundation announces the formation of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, to create robust models and methodologies for assessing and addressing climate change risks.
- 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 communities.
- Nobel Peace laureate Norman Borlaug dies after a lifetime of contributions to the continuing struggle of global agriculture to feed the world’s skyrocketing population.