Bellagio conferences establish new connections across disciplines and geographies, encourage dynamic, small group interactions, and promote innovative and creative thinking—all in a serene setting conducive to focused, goal-oriented work. Approximately one-third of the conferences that take place at the Bellagio Center over the course of a year are organized directly by the Rockefeller Foundation. The other conferences are arranged by people and institutions that share interests in the Foundation’s focus areas and/or in the Foundation’s dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. For externally-organized conferences, chosen through a competitive process, the Foundation provides the facilities, accommodations, and some travel support at no cost to conference organizers or attendees. These conferences contribute to our broader mission of promoting the well-being of humanity.
The Bellagio Center meeting spaces are scheduled through 2014. New proposals should list dates beginning after February 2015.
Conference applications are accepted on a rolling basis. We suggest that you apply at least six to nine months in advance depending on the availability of conference spaces at Bellagio. Please note that the Bellagio Center is closed from mid-December through to late-February.
A final decision will be made within about eight weeks of the submission date. We do not reserve spaces until after an application is accepted.
Bellagio conferences are small, focused, interactive gatherings. One of the conference buildings can accommodate up to 19 participants, the other, up to 22. The small setting requires conference organizers to think carefully about which participants can best contribute to achieving the goals of the meeting, and the setting also promotes the dynamic interactions that are the goals of Bellagio meetings.
Due to space limitations, conference organizers must manage invitations to participants carefully.
The buildings are historic, dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but they are equipped with modern conference facilities. Resources include LCD projectors, audio-recording equipment, high-speed Internet access, DVD players, fax and photocopy services, and printers. Video conferencing is available in some meeting rooms.
The selection committee has a strong interest in meetings whose work contributes to the well-being of humankind and/or connects with the Rockefeller Foundation’s issue areas of Advance Health, Revalue Ecosystems, Secure Livelihoods, and Transform Cities; and whose organizers expect their meetings to generate innovative yet concrete outcomes. We also welcome applications for meetings that in other ways address the needs of and expands the opportunities for the world’s poor and vulnerable communities. Previous examples of invited conference applications are: “Climate Change in Africa,” “Improving Access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Among Women in the Developing World,” “Promoting and Evaluating Creativity and Innovation,” “Economic Growth and Equity,” as well as “Developing International Standards and Policies for Eco-Cities.”
A defining characteristic of Bellagio conferences is that they benefit from the perspectives of a diverse array of stakeholders and decision makers from around the world and across disciplines. This mix of new-found and ongoing links among conference participants produces stronger outcomes and a higher likelihood of success in meeting conference goals.
Conference organizers are encouraged to invite relevant key figures from multiple sectors (academic, public, private, nonprofit, and multilateral organizations) and from a wide geographic area who will directly contribute to the meeting’s outcomes and outputs. We strongly encourage conference organizers to use the Bellagio Center to build new connections among participants who do not already work together on a regular basis. Conference organizers who propose a meeting addressing issues impacting the developing world should have a high percentage of people from that geographic area. At times, the Foundation may make recommendations of potential participants to the meeting.
Duration and Structure
Bellagio meetings typically include three full working days, with an additional day at the beginning and end for arrivals and departures, for a total of five days. Two-day meetings (total of four days reserved) are also possible. Bellagio meetings emphasize interaction between participants rather than long presentations to passive audiences. Meetings at the Bellagio Center should thus be structured to promote dialogue and interaction and avoid extensive speeches or presentations whenever possible.
Most conferences are one-time events, but applications part of a series of meetings are considered. However, the Foundation does not guarantee space for the full series of meetings. Each meeting in the series will be evaluated separately with assessments of previous meetings being a key factor in the decision to host subsequent meetings.
Financial Travel Assistance
The Foundation provides room and board without charge for all meeting participants. Personal expenses (phone and fax, for example) are the individual’s responsibility. Most conference participants cover and arrange for their own travel, although a limited airfare travel assistance is available for those who meet the criteria below.
Conference organizers are welcome to apply to the Bellagio Fund for a grant to provide travel support for participants from developing countries. Conference organizers should indicate who may need travel assistance in the participant list template. Details on applying for travel funds will be provided when the meeting has been scheduled.
Selection Process and Criteria
Decisions for conferences are based on:
- the relevance of the project to the Foundation’s focus areas and/or to the Foundation’s goals of advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses;
- the conference framework and the feasibility of the proposed outcomes,
- the potential for impact in the relevant field and/or on the lives of poor or vulnerable people,
- the diversity of participants and perspectives [note: all participants cannot come from the same organization],
- the qualifications of the conference organizer(s), and
- the suitability of the Bellagio Center for the proposed convening. [note: Bellagio meetings are small, interactive workshops, typically of less than 22 people].
Applications are reviewed by the senior program leadership of The Rockefeller Foundation, who make the final selection. To get a sense of the Foundation’s perspective on convening, you may want to review Gather: The Art & Science of Effective Convening.
Please make sure to review our conference requirements before beginning your application process. Every year, we receive applications that we cannot consider because they do not fall within the defined guidelines.
- All applications are completed online. If you have difficulty accessing or submitting an online application, please contact Bellagio_NY@rockfound.org.
- After you start your application, a unique application number and link will be sent to your e-mail address. Please be sure to check your spam box in case it is not delivered to your inbox. Applications do not need to be finished in one session; the online form allows you to save it and return to revise, edit, or add additional information later.
- Each page of the application form must be completed before you move on to the next page.
- Identify the Foundation’s issue area that most closely aligns to your project.
- Select which geographical region will be directly impacted by your work
- Answer a set of questions about your project. The first question will be entered in a text field while the rest will be completed and uploaded in the online application.
In addition to the application form, applicants must submit the following documents as PDF (preferred) or Word attachments where indicated. These documents should be double-spaced, in 12-point type and have 1″ margins. The application requirements are as follows:
The first question will be in a text field in the application asking to describe your project and explain how it is innovative or different from what’s been done before. This should be written for a general audience and not exceed 500 words.
Project Proposal Questions
Please answer the following Project Proposal Questions in the provided Word document when you begin the application or answer the questions in a separate document. Upon completing the document, you may upload it as an attachment to the online application.
- What is the purpose and goal of your project? (250 words)
- What forces are at play now that create an opportunity for positive change on the issue? (150 words)
- What is the purpose and goal of your intended time at the Bellagio Center? What is the specific phase of the project you will work on while at the Center? (150 words)
- What is the impact on poor or vulnerable populations? (150 words)
- What is the specific phase of the project you will work on while at the Center? Be as specific as possible. (150 words)
- What outputs/products will result from your conference? (Please check all that apply)
- What are the goals for your conference that will result from the outputs listed above? (Please check all that apply.)
- How will the outputs be disseminated and to whom? (150 words)
Tentative Agenda/Work Plan
In a separate document, please outline your agenda/work plan. Please Note: The Bellagio Center meetings strongly emphasizes interaction between participants rather than long presentations to passive audiences. Meetings at the Bellagio Center should thus be structured to promote dialogue and interaction and avoid extensive speeches or presentations whenever possible.
Tentative Participant List
In the provided Word document, please include a list of expected participants including first and last name, expected departure city, nationality, title, affiliation, and a one-sentence description of the participant’s contribution to the meeting. Please note: If the topic of the meeting addresses issues relevant to the developing world, roughly 50 percent of the proposed attendees must come from the relevant region(s). Only in very unusual circumstances should most participants come from one single country, region, or organization.
The main organizer and any co-organizer must submit a CV highlighting previous experiences in organizing international meetings or working in group situations and/or team problem solving. Please include any publications or achievements relevant to the proposed meeting (up to 4 pages). Please do not submit professional biographies.
Official Letter of Support
The main organizing institution must submit a signed letter on official letterhead from the senior leadership of the organization confirming that the meeting will be held under its auspices. This letter should be attached as a Word or PDF document.
Former Bellagio Conference Organizers
If you or your institution organized a meeting at the Bellagio Center within the last three years, please submit a statement of no more than 250 words describing what was accomplished from the previous meeting, indicating the specific output and/or outcomes, the critical response, and how this new proposed meeting relates to the previous meeting(s).Begin your online application