Following Donald Rumsfeld’s second tour as U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2001-2006, the Rumsfeld's discussed starting a Foundation to focus some of their philanthropic efforts on a few key areas of interest where they were motivated to provide support and make an impact.
Prior to the creation of the Rumsfeld Foundation, the Rumsfelds had long been involved in philanthropy. To this day, the Rumsfeld Family Fund, previously the Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation founded in 1985, continues to support a wide range of charities from national parks and educational programs to cultural and health initiatives.
The Rumsfeld Foundation was established in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit private foundation.
At the outset, the Rumsfeld Foundation’s programs and support fell under four main focus areas: supporting the military, veterans, the fallen and their families; providing grants to U.S. graduate scholars interested in entering public service; providing Fellowships to rising leaders from Greater Central Asia to come to the U.S., as well as supporting microfinance organizations working with entrepreneurs in developing countries.
A gyroscope was chosen as the Foundation’s logo, reflecting the Rumsfelds' sense of optimism and belief in the guiding principles of the “inner gyroscope” of the individuals the Foundation would support – their centers of gravity continuing to guide them along paths of service, leadership, and integrity.
As its programs have grown over the years, the Foundation’s mission and focus areas have evolved along with new developments and advances in its activities. Prior to entering its 10th year in operation in 2017, the Foundation shifted its focus areas to feature its two current key spheres of focus ̶ Public Service and Greater Central Asia. Moving forward, the Foundation aims to further support the young leaders involved in both Fellowship Programs in those realms and to continue to support the needs of returning veterans and the broader military community through top-rated organizations. With this increased focus on the Foundation’s core programming and growing alumni networks, the Foundation made its final grants to global microfinance organizations at the close of 2015. While no longer a part of its current work, the Foundation continues to believe in the efficacy and impact of microfinance in promoting self-sufficiency and creating economic opportunity for those in poverty around the world.
With this refined commitment to its two focus areas, today the Rumsfeld Foundation’s mission reads: Encouraging leadership, public service and free political and economic systems at home and abroad.
In honoring the opportunities afforded to the Rumsfelds by a country of free systems, the Foundation is dedicated to enhancing and creating new opportunities for individuals of character and integrity. In turn, the Foundation hopes that the individuals it supports will give back in service and leadership both in the U.S. and in countries around the world. The Foundation is also committed to honoring and encouraging those who step up to serve, both in and out of uniform.