News Release

Brookings Launches Wolfensohn Policy Center

July 5, 2006

The Brookings Institution today formally launched the Wolfensohn Center, a major innovation to fight global poverty and improve the effectiveness of national and international development efforts. The creation of the center has been made possible by the generous support of James D. Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank and a member of the Brookings Board of Trustees since 1983.

The Center’s mission is to conduct interdisciplinary research on a central question in development policy: how promising interventions can be successfully implemented, scaled up and sustained to solve key development challenges. The new Center will be led by its Executive Director, Johannes Linn, who also guided its preparation for the past year.

“The Wolfensohn Center is dedicated to the lofty goals and high standards that have marked Jim Wolfensohn’s career,” said Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution. “With Jim’s support and active engagement, the Center will add to Brookings’s traditional strengths, including multi-disciplinary analytical depth and practical policy expertise, and it will help our nation and our world address one of the most important global challenges of our time.”

The Wolfensohn Center will study examples drawn from a wide range of both international and local development interventions supported by public, private and non-governmental organizations. While the Center’s principal focus will be on initiatives in developing countries, it will also consider the experience with similar efforts in developed countries.

“I am pleased that the Center’s research will focus on how to scale up and sustain successful development interventions. I have seen too many good initiatives wither away because of political and bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of incentives for individuals and institutions to persevere,” Mr. Wolfensohn said. “If we are to succeed in addressing the huge challenges of global poverty, demographic pressures, health and environmental threats, we have to find ways to scale up and sustain projects and programs over time. Brookings is an ideal institution to take on this work.”

One year ago, Brookings announced its receipt of an initial grant of $1 million from Mr. Wolfensohn to support practical, innovative, and action-oriented research related to combating global poverty. Mr. Wolfensohn has committed to raise a minimum of $10 million and to contribute personally at least half the amount for the next five years. His extraordinary support enables Brookings to redouble its commitment to the study of poverty on a national, regional, and global scale.

The center will be an integral part of the new Global Economy and Development Program at Brookings, which is headed by Lael Brainard, vice president and director, and the holder of the Bernard L. Schwartz Chair in International Economics. For more information on Brookings’ Global Economy and Development Program and the Wolfensohn Center, please visit

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.