Non-profit

Rockefeller Family Fund

Website:

www.rffund.org

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-6257658

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)-PF

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $15,451,576
Expenses: $20,869,982
Assets: $94,925,016

Formation:

1992

President:

David Kaiser

The Rockefeller Family Fund is the nonprofit organization supporting the philanthropy of the great-grandchildren of John D. Rockefeller and the grandchildren of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The “cousins,” as Rockefeller Jr.’s grandchildren came to be known, were major supporters of left-wing counterculture causes as early as the 1960s.[1] In 1992, the Rockefeller Family Fund became a public charity, and today the organization is a leading financial supporter of environmentalist organizations.

History

Thanks to trusts established by Rockefeller, Jr., these great-grandchildren (known as the “cousins”) never had to look for work. The cousins proved to be left-wing from as early as the 1960s: They “poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into movement causes ranging from Ramparts magazine and the film Millhouse to the [Castro regime-front] Venceremos Brigade and Vietnam Veterans Against The War.”[2]

The Rockefeller Family Fund was created in 1967, but was enlarged in 1971 when Rockefeller, Jr.’s widow, Martha Baird Rockefeller, died and left her $72 million estate to charity, including $10 million to the Rockefeller Family Fund. In an internal memorandum for the other cousins, Laurance Rockefeller’s daughter Marion said “the task as we see it is to attack the very political and economic forces which perpetuate the tax deductible contribution…We think the Fund has an obligation to seek out organizations like American Friends Service Committee, Friends of the Earth, Pacifica stations, American Documentary Films et al. and support them regardless of their tax status.”[3]

In 1992, the Rockefeller Family Fund became a public charity.[4] Today, the Fund supports grants in three areas:

  • Environment, which, “since 2006” has focused “almost entirely on climate change,” including grants to block or close coal-fired power plants.[5]
  • Institutional Accountability and Individual Liberty, with an emphasis on “enacting legislation to provide automatic and permanent registration to all voters.”[6]
  • Economic Justice for Women, whose principal program is lobbying to increase the number of mandated paid sick days for working women.[7]

Controversies

Oil Divestment

In 2016, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced it would divest its endowment of all stocks related to oil and gas. “John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and ExxonMobil is Standard Oil’s largest direct descendant,” the fund’s president, David Kaiser, and its director, Lee Wasserman, noted in an article in the New York Review of Books. “In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created.”[8]

ExxonMobil

In 2015, Rockefeller Family Fund grants to InsideClimate News and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism supported reports in InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times describing a tranche of internal documents from ExxonMobil scientists, mostly from 1977-1986. InsideClimate News charged that ExxonMobil published many advertisements in newspapers questioning the idea that the production and consumption of fossil fuels led to global warming while their scientists said that the connection between fossil fuel consumption and increases in the earth’s global temperature were more certain.[9]

A second grant, to Harvard graduate student Geoffrey Supran and Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes, led to the publication of an article in Environmental Research Letters in August 2017 that analyzed the documents unearthed by InsideClimate News and compared them to ExxonMobil paid advertisements, charging that the company had covered up findings about human-caused climate change.[10]

The publication of these documents led to investigations of ExxonMobil by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which remain ongoing.

As part of their campaign against ExxonMobil, the Rockefeller Family Fund held a meeting at their offices in January 2016, which included representatives from Greenpeace, the Working Families Party, Public Citizen president Rob Weissman, and author and environmentalist Bill McKibben.  Kenny Bruno of the New Venture Fund, in an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, said the purposes of the meeting included establishing “in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm,” “to force officials to disassociate themselves from Exxon, their money, and their historic opposition to climate progress, for example by refusing campaign donations, refusing to take meetings, calling for a price on carbon, etc.” and “to drive Exxon and climate into center of 2016 election cycle.”[11]

Writing in the blog for climate skeptics Watts Up With That, Eric Worrall noted that Exxon scientists predicted a rise of between 1.5 and three degrees Celsius as a result of fossil fuels. “The lower range of Exxon’s estimate is an unequivocal ‘no action required.’ The upper range of Exxon’s estimate is ‘we might need to do something about it in the future.” Worrall said, “In my opinion, Exxon’s actions and communications with the public were proportionate and reasonable.”[12]

References

  1. Martin Morse Wooster, “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund,” Foundation Watch, January 2005 http://www.capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/pubs/pdf/FW0105.pdf
  2. Martin Morse Wooster, “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund,” Foundation Watch, January 2005 http://www.capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/pubs/pdf/FW0105.pdf
  3. Martin Morse Wooster, “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund.”
  4. Ron Arnold, “The Rockefeller Family Fund:  Puppet Master for Leftist Front Groups.” Foundation Watch, January 2005 http://www.capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/pubs/pdf/FW0105.pdf
  5. http://www.rffund.org/programs/environment/
  6. http://www.rffund.org/programs/institutional-accountability-and-individual-liberty/
  7. http://www/rffund.org/programs/economic-justice-for-women/
  8. David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, “The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon,” New York Review of Books, December 8, 2016 http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/12/08/the-rockefeller-family-fund-vs-exxon/
  9. Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song, and David Hasemyer, “Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global Warming Decades Ago,” InsideClimate News, September 18, 2015, https://www.insideclimatenews.org/news/15092015/Exxons-own-research-confirmed-fossil-fuels-role-in-global-warming
  10. Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes, “Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications (1977-2014), Environmental Research Letters, August 23, 2017, http://www.iopscience.iop.org/article/10.10881748_9326/aa815f.  Dino Grandoni, “ExxonMobil Urged People To Read The Documents, So These Harvard Researchers Did,” Washington Post, August 24, 2017, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/08/24/exxon-mobil-urged-people-to-read-the-documents-so-these-harvard-researchers-did/
  11. Alana Goodman, “Memo Shows Secret Coordination Effort Against ExxonMobil By Climate Activists, Rockefeller Fund,” Washington Free Beacon, April 14, 2016 http://www.freebeacon.com/issues/memo-shows-secret-coorfination-effort-exxon-mobil-climate-activists
  12. Eric Worrall, “Study:  Naomi Oreskes And Claims ExxonMobil Misled About Climate,” Watts Up With That, August 24, 2017, http://www.wattsupwiththat/2017/08/24/study-naomi-oreskes-claims-exxon-mobil-misled-about-climate/

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Alida Messinger
    Board Member
  2. Naomi Oreskes
    Grant Recipient
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1968

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form 990 $15,451,576 $20,869,982 $94,925,016 $3,835,965 N $11,234,985 $0 $764,631 $1,394,941 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $20,502,347 $18,472,564 $106,971,028 $3,798,385 N $13,432,929 $0 $1,034,631 $916,331 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $19,748,624 $14,423,010 $107,084,925 $2,801,406 Y $12,957,587 $0 $916,190 $386,913 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $14,669,527 $16,511,968 $97,177,394 $2,275,784 Y $10,595,880 $0 $829,799 $385,596 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $15,600,187 $18,191,304 $92,753,720 $2,501,772 Y $14,556,195 $0 $754,461 $361,150 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $6,910,053 $19,685,067 $93,919,144 $1,701,150 Y $16,084,978 $0 $635,736 $259,600 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Rockefeller Family Fund

    475 RIVERSIDE DR RM 900
    NEW YORK, NY 10115-0066