Mission and Vision
Andrew Carnegie's Vision
Andrew Carnegie envisioned Carnegie Corporation as a foundation that would “promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” In keeping with this mandate, our work incorporates an affirmation of our historic role as an education foundation but also honors Andrew Carnegie's passion for international peace and the health of our democracy. While Mr. Carnegie’s primary aim was to benefit the people of the United States, he later determined to use a portion of the funds for members of the British overseas Commonwealth. Currently, this area of our grantmaking focuses on selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Real and permanent good in this world
Mr. Carnegie dedicated his foundation to the goal of doing “real and permanent good in this world” and deemed that its efforts should create “ladders on which the aspiring can rise.” In our current-day grantmaking we continue to carry out this mission through programs and initiatives that address today’s problems by drawing on the best ideas and cutting-edge strategies that draw strength from deep knowledge and scholarship. History guides us and the present informs us, but our work looks always toward the future.
Mr. Carnegie served as the Corporation’s first president. His intention, clearly spelled out in his Deed of Gift, was for the foundation to carry out its philanthropic work in perpetuity, so that “even after I pass away the [wealth] that came to me to administer as a sacred trust for the good of my fellow men is to continue to benefit humanity for generations untold…”
Responding to changing needs
At the time of its creation, Andrew Carnegie’s vision for the work of the Corporation was unique in that he understood that as the decades passed, the issues of his day would be incorporated into or supplanted by concerns that more immediately affected future generations. Planning for that certainty, he wrote, “Conditions upon the [earth] inevitably change; hence, no wise man will bind Trustees forever to certain paths, causes or institutions.” Therefore, he gave his trustees “…full authority to change policies or causes hitherto aided, from time to time, when this, in their opinion, has become necessary or desirable. They shall best conform to my wishes by using their own judgment.”
Through nearly one hundred years of grantmaking, the Corporation has applied what Andrew Carnegie called the principles of “scientific philanthropy” to changing times while always working in harmony with the historical mission and legacy of the foundation. Our unremitting efforts remain focused on the two issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace and the advancement of education and knowledge.