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The Rockefeller Foundation Awards Grants to Organizations Supporting and Defending Refugees and Immigrants

$1.5 million in three grants to ACLU, International Rescue Committee, and Anti-Defamation League


NEW YORK — The Rockefeller Foundation announced today that it will be making grants of $500,000 each to the ACLU Foundation, the International Rescue Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League. The organizations will use the funds at their discretion to provide a variety of legal, advocacy, and social services to refugees and immigrants coming to the United States.

“At The Rockefeller Foundation we are always guided by our values of diversity, pluralism, and respect for all,” said Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin. “Our values reflect a belief in progress, held by our founder and advanced by generations since. When progress is threatened we will always stay true to our mission and both defend and advance our values. At this time of discrimination, fear, and confusion, we think it is vital for philanthropy to stand with, and financially support, organizations that are working to defend and assist refugees and immigrants.”

The Rockefeller Foundation has a history of supporting those who face discrimination and oppression and those fleeing persecution. Between 1933 and 1945, while the European intellectual community was dismantled by the racial and ideological tenets of Nazism, The Rockefeller Foundation responded by supporting and operating a refugee scholar program. Hundreds of scholars and their families were rescued under this program. Today, in addition to the grants being announced, the Foundation’s Innovative Finance team is working with grantees to create digital economic identities for tens of millions of refugees with no access to electronic banking, and also to design a new financing facility for funding critical gaps in education, housing, healthcare, and sanitation in countries surrounding Syria that have seen the greatest influx of refugees.

The funding to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) will support those who come to the IRC’s 29 offices across the United States for necessary and immediate aid on arrival and beyond—including housing, cultural orientation, health care, education, employment, and immigration services. Contributions will also support the work of IRC’s dedicated field teams who are helping clients successfully integrate into American society and supporting refugees in conflict zones across the globe.

“We are incredibly grateful that The Rockefeller Foundation has chosen to support the IRC’s work with this generous gift,” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “This contribution will help refugees beginning a new life in the United States as well as those whose lives have been upended by war, conflict, and natural disasters in more than 40 countries.”

The funding to the ACLU Foundation will support the organization’s enduring mission to preserve and promote civil rights and civil liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution, with a particular current focus on addressing the multi-front assault against refugees and immigrants.

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, said: “As we face the greatest civil liberties crisis of our time, The Rockefeller Foundation is the first large, independent foundation in the U.S. to step up and give the ACLU a grant to fight President Trump’s Muslim ban and the rest of his unconstitutional agenda. This is the fight of our lives and we are so grateful that The Rockefeller Foundation has had the courage to support us.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) will use the funding to support ADL’s advocacy in response to the executive order on immigration and refugees, including outreach to political leaders, law enforcement officials, coalition partners, community groups, and the American public. It will also support legal advocacy, including the filing of amicus briefs in various courts across the country now reviewing the order’s constitutionality.

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “Ours is a nation dedicated to ideals of equality, liberty, and justice. These ideals have often been tested with respect to immigration, and they are being tested again today. Sometimes we have risen to the challenge, but other times—when prejudice and fear predominate over reason and compassion—we have faltered, often with devastating consequences. Support from The Rockefeller Foundation will help us expand and deepen our advocacy to ensure that our nation does not repeat the mistakes of the past, and continues to be a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge from persecution.”

Media Contact: Laura Gordon,, 212-852-8454