Rockefeller Brothers Fund


Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), one of the ten largest donors to anti-technology and left-leaning activists in the United States. It specializes in “prescriptive grantmaking” to advance its ideological agenda rather than conducting an open and objective grant-application process. RBF funds or has funded virtually all the radical environmental groups in the United States. It is responsible for the Left’s takeover of the environmental movement since the 1990s. RBF’s emphasis today is on policies, programs and coalitions against “catastrophic manmade climate change.”

Special Anti-technology Projects

RBF operates particularly aggressive and risky projects in-house, designed by its own officers and staff. These projects are generally large and ambitious, so it is not uncommon for the Fund to invite other foundations or influential organizations to join a campaign.

  • In July 2008, RBF launched The Tar Sands Campaign to end drilling in the Canadian oil sands project in Alberta. RBF urged other Big Green groups to follow “Our Theory of Change: Raise the Negatives; Raise the Costs; Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure; Enroll Key Decision-Makers.”
  • On September 22, 2014, a day after crowd-broker Avaaz organized 400,000 climate protesters to march through the streets of Manhattan, RBF president, Stephen Heintz came out for the Divestment Movement. He urged all foundations to join them in immediately purging their holdings in coal and tar sands. He announced that RBF would “gradually withdraw from oil and gas, and invest 10% of the endowment in clean energy.”

Background & History

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc, was financed by John Sr.’s five grandsons, who donated parts of the Fund’s endowment from their personal fortunes in 1940. Three other family members donated to complete the endowment over time: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1951), Abby Rockefeller Mauze (1954) and Martha Baird Rockefeller (1960). Taken together, those eight donors contributed the Rockefeller Brothers Fund endowment. In 1999, the Fund enlarged its assets in a merger with the Charles E. Culpepper Foundation. In November 2006, David Rockefeller, whose career in international banking is legendary, gave $225 million to the Fund to create the David Rockefeller Global Development Fund.

RFB is not to be confused with the Rockefeller Foundation (John D. Rockefeller Senior’s fortune) or the Rockefeller Family Fund (the fourth generation’s fortune).

Some of the 230 or so living descendents of Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, claim that the clan had a “green” streak from the beginning. However, it remained well hidden as the Rockefeller family built their fortune. Of the RBF founders, only Laurance made a career of “protecting America’s wide open spaces.” The others pursued industrial, political, and banking interests. Laurence promoted the creation of several national parks, but profiteered through his property management firm Rockresorts, which operated their visitor hotels. As the founding generation passed on, younger family members took over and turned their giving substantially leftward. The Fund tried to support alternative energy in the 1980s, but ultimately failed. By the 1990s, RBF’s environmental funding shifted decisively to climate policy and projects.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is a major example of prescriptive grantmaking used to drive their ideological agenda. RBF warns prospective applicants that, “While the Fund remains open to unsolicited requests, applicants should be aware that the likelihood of an unsolicited request becoming a grant is low.”

Leadership: Trustees, Officers and Interlocking Boards

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund Board of Trustees has 20 members. Five are connected to other foundations or corporations through common directors. RBF directors are connected to a total of 941 foundations interlocked with 936 common directors.

Links take you to the Muckety Bio of each key leader of the fund:


Tax status: 501(c)(3) private foundation; generates income by investing its initial endowment, supplemented by annual gifts from family and friends, and disburses portions of its investment income each year to selected recipients.

2013 figures

  • RBF’s financial assets were $870,572,218.
  • Gifts from family and friends to RBF were $2,273,209.
  • RBF’s net gain from sale of assets was $142,000,307.
  • RBF’s total revenue was $145,085,287.
  • RBF’s grants given in all categories were $27,491,710.
  • Officers’ compensation totaled $1,402,830.
  • Employee salaries totaled $4,070,206.

Source: IRS Form 990

Source of Wealth

John Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) became the wealthiest man of his time, and arguably the wealthiest in history, ruling a monopoly that refined 90 percent of America’s oil. His master company, Standard Oil, was broken up in 1911 by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, but many of its spinoffs became today’s most powerful oil companies, including ConocoPhillips, BP, Chevron and Exxon-Mobil.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s investment portfolio is managed by professional firms, with the bulk under the management of Investure, LLC.


Paid Congressional Junkets

  • Earl Blumenauer, (D-OR) staffer Janine L.Benner traveled to Racine, WI, May 18-19, 2007 for “Meetings with students and climate change activists to discuss the youth movement’s role in climate policy,” at a cost of $972.00 paid by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
  • John Kline, (R-MN) traveled to Istanbul, Turkey May 30 to June 5, 2005 “To participate in a conference on political Islam” at a cost of $7,844.30 paid by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
  • Sherry Boehlert, (R-NY) staffer Martin A. (Marty) Spitzer traveled to Tarrytown, NY March 11-13, 2002 “To attend a workshop on ‘Moving Towards Sustainability in the U.S.: Indicators for Action’” at a cost of $495.00 paid by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Source: Legistorm

Network Interactions

See the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Muckety Map for an interactive view of the foundation’s social network.

Network RBF Grantees With Anti-Technology Presence, 1999-2013

Rockefeller Brothers Fund has given 5,943 grants to 2,273 recipients totaling $397,810,694 from 1999 to 2015. These are the 15 RBF grantees with the largest anti-technology presence:

  1. TIDES CENTER $2,883,900
  4. OCEANA $2,110,000
  5. TIDES FOUNDATION $1,885,000
  7. GREENPEACE FUND $950,000
  10. UNITED NATIONS $870,000
  15. 350.ORG $450,000

 Source: IRS Forms 990 and the Foundation Search databank


The Rockefeller Brothers Fund “Divestment” Pledge

A year after RBF’s announcement that it would, itself, divest from oil and gas holdings, and encouraged other members of the “green movement” to do the same, RBF was found to have been proceeding rather cautiously with their financial agenda. The decision was a practical one, designed to stem monetary losses, but RBF President Stephen Heintz claimed to CNN News that the divestment process itself was an extended project, saying it could take three to five years to reach its goal.
Source: The Guardian, March 27, 2015 and CNN Money, October 26, 2015.

In 2015, it was actually relatively easy to divest from most petroleum stocks and bonds, as fracking operations in the American west had caused a glut of product, depressing prices and triggering a sell off, as investors sought better returns elsewhere. Many abandoned shares were then scooped up by short-term investors.

At the United Nations COP21 climate conference of 2015, RBF was touting a new report that investors across the world with $3.4 trillion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies. RBF, however, failed to cite any specific example of a fulfilled divestment pledge, and did not seem concerned that shares from which RBF and others had divested were, consequently, purchased by other investors at market value. The trade in shares seems to have had no effect on financial stability in the oil and gas industry, which was affected by larger market forces.
Source:, December 2, 2015 and Divestment Won’t Hurt Big Oil, and That’s OK, New Republic, May 20, 2015.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund “Peacebuilding” Program In Question

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund operates three major programs, Democratic Practice, Peacebuilding, and Sustainable Development. Examination of what RBF calls “peacebuilding,” has raised serious concerns about its funding commitments to NGOs working on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Doubts about RBF’s goal to promote a “more just, sustainable, and peaceful world,” have been raised because many of the Middle Eastern beneficiaries of its largesse demonize the state of Israel in stridently anti-Zionist terms, according to News Service, Is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund consciously funding delegitimization of Israel?.

Most damning, Daniel Levy, a founder of the leftwing lobbying group J Street, which received $350,000 in RBF grants, is also an RBF trustee. News Service reported that “Levy also sits on the board of directors of another Israeli group that receives RBF funds and is also heavily involved with the New Israel Fund, which works with many of the radical NGOs backed by RBF money.”
RBF Programs Source: Rockefeller Brothers Fund website.

RBF “Peacebuilding” Supports Palestinian Policy Network Under Fictitious Name

RBF gave $30,000 to The Middle East Policy Network, not revealing that the group is using a legally registered fictitious name in the U.S., but must disclose to the IRS in its annual Form 990 reports its original name, AI-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network, which is used in international communications. Page two of the group’s 2013 Form 990 states:

What is the organization’s primary exempt purpose?
AI-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network, is an Independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of International law AI-Shabaka, which means “The Network” is a think tank without borders or walls that alms to draw upon the vast knowledge and experience of the Palestinian people, whether under occupation, In exile, or In Israel, so as to engage the broadest spectrum of perspectives In debate on policy and strategy, and communicate Ideas and strategies on resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to Palestinian communities as well as to Arab and other policy communities and Interested parties worldwide.” News Service noted that AI-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network, under its less controversial name, Middle East Policy Network, stridently touts the intensely anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) as “the most effective and strategic campaign for [Palestinian] refugee return at present.”