The Rockefeller Foundation: Improving Humanity Through Innovation


NEW YORK CITY – In 1913, the Rockefeller Foundation was founded with the intent of promoting the well-being of humanity.

For several decades, the foundation has been setting the bar for commissioning programs which would later become the model of philanthropic service. As opposed to the simple charity model of the past, the Rockefeller Foundation has employed scientific and academic approaches to be incorporated into their model. Very few organizations before this had invested in such great ideas which provide solutions to the problems facing humanity.

For example, the Rockefeller Foundation was crucial in introducing Western medicine to China, even developing a vaccine for yellow fever and combating malaria. Those who have received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation include Albert Einstein, Ralph Ellison, and Bill T. Jones. Through their investments, the Rockefeller Foundation changed the philanthropic landscape as we know it.

The Rockefeller Foundation prides itself on its leadership, effectiveness, equity, innovation, and integrity through four main goals:

  • securing livelihoods
  • revaluing ecosystems
  • advancing health
  • and transforming cities

In the past, the Rockefeller Foundation has teamed up with organizations such as the Gates Foundation, Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, and the ACLU to provide effective and transformative programs in defense of the world’s most underrepresented populations.

For instance, in 2006, the Rockefeller Foundation teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to advance their past efforts to spur a ‘Green Revolution’ in Africa. These efforts hope to increase the productivity of small farmers and lift them out of poverty.

Throughout its history, the Rockefeller Foundation has solved global problems, invested in new knowledge and ideas, connected people to catalyze change, and developed individuals and institutions to meet these challenges. The Rockefeller Foundation has also invested in great ideas, such as penicillin, artificial intelligence, and Africa’s Green Revolution. Additionally, it also supported the Red Cross during WWI.

Since 2005, Judith Rodin has been the president of the Rockefeller Foundation. Rodin is not only a research psychologist by training, but also an expert and a pioneer in behavioral medicine.

Before joining the Rockefeller Foundation, Rodin was the president of the University of Pennsylvania and the first woman to lead an Ivy league. Rodin is regularly invited to influential global forums, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the United Nations General Assembly, to provide her opinion on scientific, developmental and academic challenges.

Recently, the Rockefeller Foundation unveiled a program, called The 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, to strengthen African cities against the stress of urbanization. The organization, which was a leader in urban planning throughout the last century, created this $100 million dollar program in hopes of preventing future city-based catastrophes.

This program aims to make 100 African cities more resilient to the added stress of migration to cities in the coming decades, as well as to make these cities more prepared for natural disasters. These grants are expected to lure additional funding and development programs in Africa as a result. Similarly, the Foundation unveiled earlier this year an $83 million dollar investment, known as the Digital Jobs Africa Initiative. This program hopes to catalyze job creation in Africa’s information and communication technology (ICT) sectors. Disadvantaged youths are trained so that they can get jobs in service support, online research, and Web design.

Now in its 100th year, the Rockefeller Foundation looks towards a bright and promising future. Times have changed and the nature of the problems facing future generations are fundamentally different. Yet sheer innovation, the method by which the Rockefeller Foundation has come up with solutions, remains.

The problems of the next century will be global in nature. To improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable, the organization seeks to build resilience and promote sustainable growth. In addressing these problems, the organization remains committed to its promise of promoting the well-being of humanity.

Kelsey Ziomek

Sources: Rockefeller Foundation, Huffington Post, All Africa, Forbes, Discover The Networks, Wall Street Journal, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


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