International Education Board

  • Education
  • 1923

Two decades after his father founded the General Education Board (see 1902 entry), John Rockefeller Jr. set out to expand the reach of the family’s education philanthropy. Having been involved in the expansion of the GEB from its initial focus on African-American education in the South to nationwide educational reforms, Rockefeller was positioned to go one step further and begin funding education overseas—which he began to do in 1923 when he founded the International Education Board.

Unlike the GEB, the IEB not only funded institutions but also individual scholars. Focusing mainly on science and agriculture, the board provided hundreds of fellowships, along with grants to organizations in 39 different countries. Notable projects included the 200-inch Mount Palomar telescope, to which the board contributed $1.4 million, $283,000 to support Niels Bohr’s physics research that eventually assisted the American atomic bomb, $357,000 to establish a mathematics faculty at GÖttingen, and $3 million for the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. In all, John Rockefeller Jr. contributed more than $21 million to the International Education Board during its 15 years. The IEB concluded its work in 1938, when its remaining capital, programs, and personnel were folded into other Rockefeller projects.