Carnegie Corporation of New York

In 1911, Andrew Carnegie established Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the last institutions he created and the only U.S. organization he formed as a grantmaking foundation.

For Carnegie, who was president during the first eight years of operation, the Corporation represented a final step in his plan to invest most of his accumulated wealth, over 90 percent, or more than $330 million, in doing "real and permanent" good in the world. The Corporation's mission is "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding" among the people of the United States, in perpetuity.  Though up to 7.4 percent of the funds may be used for the same purpose in countries that were members of the British Commonwealth as of 1948; the Corporation's current focus in this area is on selected countries in English-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

An Early Focus on Libraries

Carnegie Corporation has been associated with almost every important development in library service in the United States. Carnegie himself had used much of his personal fortune, beginning in 1886, to establish free public libraries throughout America, which led the Corporation's initial grantmaking to focus on libraries and the opportunities for public education they offer. Early library funding went to the building structures themselves, but by the 1920s, grants in this area began to emphasize the evaluation and strengthening of both public and university librarians' training.

 

An Examination of Race in America

One of the Corporation's most notable efforts was its support of a study of race relations, Gunnar Myrdal's 1944 book, An American Dilemma, which was enormously influential in how racial issues were viewed in the United States.  The book was cited in a number of successful legal challenges to segregation including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.  In many ways, Myrdal's study laid the groundwork for future policies of racial integration and affirmative action. 

 

A Consistent Focus on Teachers

The support of education and of teachers has also been a continuing theme of the Corporation's work. Shocked by the discovery that teachers, "one of the highest professions," had less financial security than his former office clerks, Andrew Carnegie, through the Corporation, established the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America in 1917 with a $1,000,000 grant. The association managed retirement accounts, which were jointly funded by teachers and their employers. Now called TIAA-CREF and independently managed since 1938, it serves 3.6 million active and retired employees participating in more than 27,000 retirement plans and has $363 billion in combined assets under management (as of December 31, 2008). 

 

Shaping the Nation's Education Agenda

The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, financed by the Corporation and sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, conducted a study outlining a massive program of higher education federal assistance, which led to the formation of the Federal Pell Grants program. Since 1973, the program, named after Senator Claiborne Pell, has awarded more than $100 billion in grants to an estimated 30 million postsecondary students. The Corporation has been instrumental in helping to establish many other organizations and programs that have made significant contributions to shaping the nation's educational agenda throughout the 20th century, including the Educational Testing Service, which was founded in 1947 to promote the development of ways to measure academic merit irrespective of social or economic background.

 

A Focus on Children and Adolescents

Improving the education of children and adolescents has long been a principal concern of the Corporation, which continues to support school reform through a number of important national initiatives focusing on specific educational issues.  Also, the Corporation also supported work of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching until 1972 when that organization began working independently.

 

Head Start and Sesame Street

The Corporation promoted young children's care and education, and it supported research that proved crucial in securing and safeguarding federal funds for the Head Start program. The foundation promoted educational television, helping launch Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), producer of Sesame Street and other acclaimed television programs for children. After the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television promoted TV's educational potential, Congress adopted its recommendations in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1968, which established the public broadcasting system.

 

A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century

In a 1986 response to the federally sponsored study (A Nation at Risk, 1983) that laid bare the sorry state of the nation's schools, a Corporation task force responded with A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century. This report helped focus national school reforms on the critical need to revitalize the teaching profession. Turning Points, another Carnegie-sponsored study published in 1989, accelerated reform of middle schools, including the widely adopted replacement of junior high schools with smaller 5-8th- or 6-8th-grade middle schools.

 

Education, Peace and Security in the 21st Century

In recent years, under the direction of Presidents David Hamburg and Vartan Gregorian, the Corporation has undertaken several major initiatives aimed at improving the life of the nation in the 21st century and in contributing to international peace and security. More recently, the Corporation published the 2009 report Opportunity Equation, which identifies where change is needed to transform math and science education in the United States so that all students- - no matter where they live, what educational path they pursue, or in which field they choose to work -- have the knowledge and skills they need from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics upon high school graduation

 

Addressing Russia's Security

The Russia Initiative was an 18-month long endeavor that brought together more than 100 Russian and American scholars in task forces to discuss and analyze issues relating to Russia's security, economy, democratization, social cohesion and state building. The result was a number of reports and a documentary video called Russia: Facing the Future, which, along with a companion volume of the same name, called for a mature reengagement between the U.S. and Russia in the post-Cold-War world. In Africa, the Corporation is focusing on strengthening selected African universities, and on enhancing women's educational opportunities at institutions of higher education in Africa, as well as on developing the capacity of certain African public library systems, all efforts aimed at contributing toward national development.

 

Strengthening America's Democratic Institutions

In the area of Strengthening U.S. Democracy, the Corporation has been at the forefront of support for campaign finance reform, encouraging voter and civic education and in strengthening democratic institutions, including the electoral process; in that vein, the Corporation recently provided funding to a collaborative project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Caltech to develop an easy-to-use, reliable, affordable and secure United States voting machine that would prevent a recurrence of the problems that threatened the 2000 presidential election.

 

Re-thinking Journalism Education

In response to profound changes taking place in the news business that pose challenges for journalists and the news organizations for which they work, the Corporation and its partners at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, established a journalism education reform initiative. A key component of the initiative focuses on offering journalism students a deep and multi-layered exploration of complex subjects like history, politics, classics and philosophy that will undergird their journalistic skills as well as help to raise the profile of journalism education and its place within the university.