Founded in 1913 by Standard Oil cofounder John D. Rockefeller Sr. and his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) had a long history of identifying major problems, convening unlikely partnerships, and supporting innovations behind transformative change. By 2020, the organization had spent more than $22 billion in current dollars to support organizations and individuals addressing issues in education, health, food, economic opportunity, and, lately, energy and climate change. In early 2022, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Innovative Finance department was been charged with considering the organization’s options for responding to the deepening climate crisis. Maria Kozloski and Adam Connaker, both of RF’s Innovative Finance group, must decide what approach to recommend to the upcoming meeting of the Board of Trustees. This case would also be appropriate for classes on both social entrepreneurship and private capital, given RF’s interest in providing catalytic capital and mobilizing private money. Comparing RF’s approach with those of other groups that seek to make catalytic investments, whether the CDC Group, the World Bank, its for-profit division, the International Finance Corporation, or other similar organizations, might inspire some insightful commentary.
1. To introduce students to the potential roles played by philanthropies in tackling supra-national challenges. 2. To provide a wide-ranging overview of the opportunities for investors and financial institutions to help solve major climate challenges. 3. To bring together a variety of perspectives and opportunities to solve the climate crisis and encourage students to consider which might be most effective in certain situations. 4. To emphasize the importance of achieving scale in the deployment of clean-energy technologies and decarbonization initiatives.