Changing the way the world thinks
about critical health and development issues
According to the Population Council's founder, John D. Rockefeller 3rd, the reason to care about population is "to improve the quality of people's lives, to help make it possible for individuals everywhere to develop their full potential." Throughout its history, the Council's unique role has been to conduct and disseminate research that changes the way the world thinks about critical health and development issues.
Our more than 600 staff members from 33 countries in 18 offices conduct research and implement programs in more than 50 countries around the world. Working with governments and civil society organizations, they combine excellence in demographic studies, operations research, technical assistance, basic biomedical research on reproductive physiology and HIV, and the development of new contraceptives and products to prevent the transmission of HIV. We also improve the research capacity of reproductive and population scientists in developing countries through grants, fellowships, and support of research centers.
The Population Council conducts research worldwide to improve policies, programs, and technologies in three areas: HIV and AIDS; poverty, gender, and youth; and reproductive health.
2011 expenditures: US$85.0 million
Areas of expertise: HIV and AIDS; poverty, gender, and youth; reproductive health
Funding sources: The Council's work is funded by governments, multilateral organizations, foundations, and individuals.
Geographic range of work: Headquarters and Center for Biomedical Research in New York City, office in Washington, DC, and offices in 15 countries in the developing world with programs in more than 50 countries. (Where We Work map: PDF)
History: The Population Council was founded by John D. Rockefeller 3rd in 1952. According to Rockefeller, the reason to care about population was "to improve the quality of people's lives, to help make it possible for individuals everywhere to develop their full potential."
Mission statement: The Population Council's mission is to improve the well-being and reproductive health of current and future generations around the world and to help achieve a humane, equitable, and sustainable balance between people and resources.
President: Peter J. Donaldson
Workforce: The Council staff consists of more than 600 women and men from 33 countries, half of whom hold advanced degrees. Roughly 60 percent are based outside of the United States.
What is the Population Council?
The Population Council is an international, nonprofit organization that conducts research on three fronts: biomedical, social science, and public health. This research and the information it produces helps change the way people think about problems related to reproductive health and population growth. The Council's research makes a difference in people’s lives.
Who started the Council, and why?
The Council was established in 1952 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, to search for a better understanding of problems relating to population. A humanitarian, Mr. Rockefeller was deeply affected by trips to densely populated regions of South and East Asia in 1950, where millions of people were living at subsistence level and the population was growing rapidly.
What population issues is the Council concerned about?
The Population Council's work ranges over the broad field of population: from research to improve services and products that respond to people's reproductive health needs to designing interventions to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases; from studies of the effects of population factors on a country's ability to provide a better life for its citizens to research that investigates the influence of education and livelihood opportunities on young girls and women. The Council is also concerned with the reproductive health and well-being of the one billion adolescents in the developing world who are about to enter their reproductive years and whose behavior will shape the future of their countries. These are some of the global issues that engage the Council and its scientists.
What distinguishes the Council from other organizations?
For 60 years the Population Council has been a leader in doing first-rate research on a broad range of population issues. The Council is unique in combining excellence in demographic studies, operations research, technical assistance, basic research on reproductive physiology, and the development of new contraceptives. In addition, the Council helps to improve the research capacity of reproductive and population scientists in developing countries through grants, fellowships, and support of research centers.
What does the Council do?
Council scientists and specialists around the world conduct a range of activities rarely matched by other organizations. These include:
- Developing contraceptives and other products to improve reproductive health;
- Improving the quality and outreach of family planning and reproductive health services;
- Conducting research on reproductive health and behavior, family structure and function, gender issues, and the causes and consequences of population growth;
- Strengthening professional resources in developing countries through collaborative research, awards, fellowships, and training;
- Providing a forum for publication of innovative research in peer-reviewed journals, books, working papers, and regional monographs.
Where is the Council located?
The Population Council is global. The Council's headquarters and Center for Biomedical Research (CBR) are both located in New York City—the headquarters within walking distance of the United Nations building and CBR on the campus of the Rockefeller University. The Council also has an office in Washington, DC, that manages global programs to improve reproductive health and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The Council staff consists of more than 600 women and men, approximately 60 percent of whom are located in developing countries. The Council has offices in 16 countries. The Council conducts research and programs in more than 50 countries. Office information is available under contact us.
How is the Council organized?
The Council conducts research and programs in three areas:
Staff associated with International Support collaborate with the three research programs to tailor their priorities to the needs of specific countries.
These programs are further supported by the Corporate Affairs Division, the Office of the Treasurer, and the Office of the General Counsel and Secretary.
The Office of the President includes both the Development Office and three Distinguished Colleagues. The Council is governed by a board of trustees composed of men and women from seven countries. This group includes leaders in biomedicine, business, economic development, government, health, international finance, law, the media, philanthropy, and social science.
What is the Council's budget?
The Council's 2011 expenditures were US$85.0 million. Visit the financial information page for an overview of the Council's financial status during the last fiscal year.
How can you support the Council?
The Council's Development Office coordinates fundraising and donor relations and identifies and carries out strategies for improved and more diversified fundraising. Visit the donate page for a description of the many ways in which people can support the Council.
For 60 years, the Population Council has changed the way the world thinks about important health and development issues. Explore an interactive timeline of the Council's history, learn more about some of our key contributions, and watch a short video about why your support is so important to us.