The Rockefeller Foundation's Big Bets

How we think ambitiously about addressing the planet's problems

Throughout our history, The Rockefeller Foundation has made a series of big bets – broad, deep, multi-year initiatives to solve a large-scale problem threatening the well-being of humanity. We’ve helped reshape public health, revolutionize how food is grown, develop life-saving vaccines, and bring renewable, reliable electricity to those who’ve never had it.

These big bets are rooted in the model of philanthropy established by our founder John D. Rockefeller Sr. He wanted to harness the power of science and technology to solve humanity’s problems at their root rather than simply treat symptoms. This model of scientific philanthropy, as he called it, required deep technical agility, a comfort with risk and discipline to follow through. Rockefeller said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

Today, the Foundation continues to apply that mindset. Our big bets require the following:

  • A novel solution or solutions – an new innovation, idea, etc. – or a novel application of existing innovation, idea.
  • An alliance, often of unlikely partners, to work together to scale solution to such an extent a problem can be solved.
  • A method to track and report progress against a measurable outcome until it is achieved (or not).

But big bets require working with others. We are continuously on the look-out for ways to partner with other philanthropies, governments, companies, organizations and individuals around the world and on the ground. We are also eager to help inspire and train those seeking to take on similar scale. The Foundation has launched a community and fellowship meant to support those seeking to make a big bet of your own to meaningfully better the world.

Support for Those Making Big Bets

Our community of emerging leaders are making big bets to reverse climate change and advance opportunity.

Join the community

A Fellowship for Big Bettors

The Big Bets Climate Fellowship, part of The Rockefeller Foundation's billion-dollar climate strategy, selected 16 leaders from 5 countries to develop solutions to reverse the climate crisis and accelerate opportunity in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a focus on the Amazon Basin.

Meet The Fellows

A Toolkit for Making Big Bets Anywhere

Download our interactive toolkit designed to help you turn your big bets into reality.

access the toolkit

Your Guide to Big Bets

Our President Dr. Rajiv Shah’s new book is designed to help leaders everywhere reimagine what is possible.

About the book

Explore Big Bets Videos

  • What is a Big Bet?

  • Big Bet Mindset: Unlikely Partners

  • Big Bet Mindset: Novel Solutions

  • Big Bet Mindset: Measuring Progress

Learn About Our Grantees’ Big Bets