Decade: 1960s

In Brief: James Baldwin’s Creative Writer’s Fellowship

How a foundation provided the final ingredient to an era-defining novel.

An Unlikely Partnership: Ted Watkins and the Rockefeller Foundation

How a charismatic community activist from Watts challenged a foundation’s civil rights strategy.

Photo Essay: Mexico and the Launch of the Green Revolution

The scientific, intensive agriculture that the Rockefeller Foundation pioneered on a large international scale (eventually in partnership with the Ford Foundation) was touted as a “Green Revolution” in a 1968 speech. The name stuck. How the Mexican Agriculture Program created a method for intensifying agriculture on a global level…

Photo Essay: Supporting Minority Enterprise in the late 1960s

In 1968, the Ford Foundation began to fund minority enterprise and other social investments using a new tool, the Program-Related Investment (PRI). This photo essay shows the breadth of these investments and diversity of activities that PRIs funded in both inner city and rural environments…

The Origins of the Rockefeller Foundation Equal Opportunity Program

A fundraising appeal from the United Negro College Fund in 1962 prompted the Rockefeller Foundation to design and launch a full-blown Equal Opportunity program, the first in its history. How a simple request come to have such a broad impact…

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund Supports Modern Environmentalism

Environmental education was once a new, almost marginal idea. The rise of its acceptance traces partly to a series of grants from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to the National Audubon Society, totaling nearly one-million dollars. This funding helped Audubon reach out to youth and other new audiences in the 1960s and 1970s. In the process, Audubon itself transformed into a more modern, relevant organization…

In Brief: The Rockefeller Foundation Supports Renowned Urbanist Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities is one of the most famous critiques of urban renewal in the postwar US. However, the book might never have been published if not for a vote of confidence from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1958…

The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations Navigate Civil War in Nigeria

The Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation kicked off plans to construct the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in 1963. They viewed IITA as a vital new component of their joint efforts to increase the developing world’s food supply across the globe. But a political crisis and a subsequent civil war nearly upended the funders’ plans…

The Birth of the Modern MBA

Business education as it exists today came out of a massive mid-century philanthropic effort to transform the field. Why would an American foundation take this on and what was the program’s impact? Ford Foundation leaders were looking for ways to encourage economic growth and stave off the negative aspects of economic cycles, but they saw that a real theory of business practice was absent…

elementaChildren of diverse ethnic backgrounds get ready to go inside their school, two hold hands

Can Data Drive Social Change? Tackling School Segregation with Numbers

In the years before Brown v. Board of Education, school desegregation loomed large in the South. The Fund for the Advancement of Education, a Ford Foundation creation, launched a massive research project in 1953. Its racially integrated research team believed that the numbers would speak for themselves on education equality. They were mistaken…