In this episode of Capital for Good we speak with Valerie Rockefeller, one of the country’s most innovative leaders in the fight against climate change and in our transition to a low carbon economy. Rockefeller chairs numerous organizations, including Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and BankFWD, which have pioneered ways to channel philanthropy and the capital markets towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.
In this conversation, we discuss some of the philanthropic legacies of John D. Rockefeller, and how, and five, six, and seven generations later, members of the Rockefeller family are stewarding and directing resources towards strengthening peace, democratic practices, and sustainable development in the United States and around the world.
Rockefeller describes her childhood in West Virginia, where, although not yet a fully formed environmentalist, she saw firsthand the pollution and health impacts of coal and coal mining. Today, she has helped lead the Rockefeller Brothers Fund move to align investing the $1.6 billion assets under management in the foundation with its grant making strategy. Over time, this has involved a process of divesting from fossil fuels and proactively investing in climate strategies while financially outperforming benchmarks by 35 percent. These returns, and a blueprint for process, have allowed other foundations, university endowments, and mainstream investors to follow suit. “The best way to grow a movement is to . . . walk the walk: to do it well, and then share the information about what you’re doing,” Rockefeller says. In 2020, she co-founded BankFWD to address the fact that, despite global concerns about the harm and risks of climate change, large banks still finance fossil fuels. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors has responded to the growing demand for impact and sustainable investing guidance with various donor resources and commitments on the environment, and the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility movement.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- “Investing in our Mission: A Five Year Case Study of Fossil Fuel Divestment at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund,” (Rockefeller Brothers Fund, 2020)
- Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
- “The Year Ahead: Impact Investing and Philanthropy in 2022,” (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, 2022)
- “Three Rockefellers Say Banks Must Stop Financing Fossil Fuels,” (New York Times, 2020)