Ending an initiative that put an international spotlight on environmental sustainability, the Rockefeller Foundation officially shuttered its 100 Resilient Cities Program on April 1.

The closure of the program is puzzling. The Urban Institute released a glowing report on the program’s results last year.

“…in the five years since its creation, [the 100 Resilient Cities Program] is making important progress in helping urban areas around the world institutionalize and build resilience to a wide range of shocks and stresses,” the report reads.

As the effects of climate change become more severe, cities around the globe face environmental and economic catastrophes of enormous magnitude. From rising sea levels to the end of key industries, the 100 Resilient Cities Program sought to address a variety of 21st century issues threatening communities in the United States and abroad.

Officials from the Rockefeller Foundation explained that the organization had achieved its goal of helping cities hire “resilience officers” to work with municipal leaders on policies that will help protect cities for years to come. “It really is the job of government to lead this work and prioritize it,” remarked Matt Herrick, a spokesperson for the foundation.

Despite supposedly meeting a key goal of the program, the Rockefeller Foundation caught key staff members—many of whom expected the program to continue for years—by surprise. Furthermore, the announcement of the program’s closure was buried in a press release regarding other foundation news, indicating that Rockefeller Foundation leadership sought to limit public awareness of the decision.

While the foundation will continue to pursue similiar objectives with its funding, this appears to be the end—at least for the time being—of a major, highly publicized program specifically dedicated to sustainability.

Nonprofits often have to deal with the short-term priorities of funders, and thus find it difficult to strategize for their programs with a view to the future. The 100 Resilient Cities Program was a blessing for those in the sector who are normally compelled to make near-sighted choices for temporary gain.

Hopefully a well-funded replacement emerges soon.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *