Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic career began in the 1870s.
In his essay “The Gospel of Wealth,” published in 1889, he outlined a philosophy of giving: he asserted that the rich are “trustees” of their money and are under a moral obligation to reinvest it in ways that promote the welfare and happiness of the common man. By the time of his death, in 1919, Carnegie had invested roughly $350 million — nearly all of his fortune — to advance education, science, culture, and international peace.
Today, more than a century later, 26 organizations worldwide bear Carnegie’s name. They carry on work in fields as diverse as art, education, international affairs, peace, and scientific research. Although they are considered members of a “family,” these organizations remain independent entities and are related by name only. Learn about the family members below, or browse their latest social media posts in the right column, but please note that some of the Hero Funds and smaller organizations are not included.
The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs was established in 1914, with a $2 million endowment, as the Church Peace Union. Through that organization, Andrew Carnegie hoped to mobilize the world’s churches, religious organizations, and other spiritual and moral resources to join in promoting moral leadership and finding alternatives to armed conflict. The organization thrived and expanded its focus, resulting in its renaming as the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in 1986. Today it is the world’s premier institute for research and education in ethics and international policy. It provides a forum for those who explore the ethical dilemmas posed by issues such as deadly conflict, human rights violations, environmental protection, global economic disparities, and the politics of reconciliation.
Endowed with roughly $4 million, the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust was created in 1903 to benefit the 26,000 residents of Andrew Carnegie’s birthplace in Scotland. In the years that followed, there were few aspects of life in Dunfermline that the Trust did not touch through the creation of numerous public institutions including: the magnificent Pittencrieff Park and Glen, reading rooms, bowling greens, clinics, a College of Hygiene and Physical Education, School of Handicrafts, Music Institute, Women’s Center, Youth Center, and playing fields. In addition, the Trust has assisted the community by supporting local schools, educational visits, and sports activities.
Founded in 1910 with $10 million from Andrew Carnegie, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States and the first global think tank.
In October of 1903, Andrew Carnegie signed a formal deed to create a foundation for the purpose of “erecting and maintaining at The Hague a courthouse and library for the Permanent Court of Arbitration.” The Carnegie Foundation, as the organization was called, was given $1.5 million with which to build the so called Peace Palace. Today, the Carnegie Foundation is solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the Peace Palace and its grounds.
The Carnegie Foundation was established in 1905 with an initial endowment of $10 million — later augmented — and a charter from the New York State legislature. As a trustee of Cornell University, Andrew Carnegie was shocked to learn about the low salary scale of professors. He realized that they were unable to save for their old age and that many were continuing to teach for far too long. Through the Foundation, he endowed a pension system for college teachers. It later went on to establish the first widespread educational standards for the nation’s colleges and universities. After 1931, the foundation changed its focus, concentrating on research to improve education.
Andrew Carnegie’s “Music Hall” opened on May 5, 1891 with a concert featuring the American debut of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Designed by William B. Tuthill, the building at the corner of 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, in New York, comprised a self-contained performing arts complex with three auditoriums. It quickly became known simply as “Carnegie Hall.” In the more than 120 years since, the venue has become one of the most famous concert halls in the world, with its perfect acoustics and extravagant architecture providing a spectacular showcase for scores of renowned artists.
Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1902, endowing it with $22 million, as an organization for scientific discovery. He intended it to be home for exceptional individuals—those with imagination and extraordinary dedication, capable of working at the cutting edge of their fields. It has fostered new areas of science and has led to unexpected benefits to society, including the development of hybrid corn, radar, the technology that led to Pyrex® glass, and RNA interference, a novel technique to control genes. In 2007, the institution adopted a new name: the Carnegie Institution for Science.
In a letter dated November 25, 1881, Andrew Carnegie wrote to the mayor of Pittsburgh offering to donate $250,000 for a free library, with the stipulation that the city would agree to provide the land and appropriate funding for library operations. Carnegie later increased his charter investment to $1 million to build and equip a main library and five neighborhood branches. Founding public libraries became a personal philanthropic mission for Carnegie: he viewed them as vital, non-luxury assets to be supported by public dollars. When finished, Carnegie had established more than 2,500 libraries around the world.
In 1900, Andrew Carnegie created a $2 million endowment for a few technical schools in Pittsburgh that provided training at the secondary level. These schools quickly evolved into the Carnegie Institute of Technology, a college that received an additional endowment of more than $7 million. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute merged with the Mellon Institute to become Carnegie Mellon University. Today, the university has colleges in engineering, fine arts, science, industrial administration, humanities, and social sciences.
The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh were established in 1895 with the purpose of celebrating art, science, music, and literature. Built at a cost of $20 million, this institution contains a library, art gallery, music hall, and museum of natural history. Today comprising four museums, the organization reaches more than 1.3 million people a year — including more than 400,000 school children — through science and art exhibitions, educational programming, outreach, and special events. Among other natural wonders, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History displays two dinosaurs, Diplodocus carnegie and Apatosarus louisae, named after Andrew and his wife, Louise.
The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, endowed with $10 million, was created by a deed signed on June 7, 1901 — officially incorporated by Royal Charter on August 21, 1902 — for the purpose of “improving and extending the opportunities for scientific study and research” as well as providing scholarships for needy students.
The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust was founded in 1913, with a $10 million endowment, to address the changing needs of the people of the United Kingdom and Ireland. It has provided support for a wide variety of community services, ranging from child welfare programs to community theaters. The Trust currently focuses on strengthening democracy and civil society, as well as on enhancing the well-being of rural communities. The Trust also continues to support the promotion of socially progressive and creative philanthropy.
In January 1904, a fatal coal mine disaster in Harwick, Pa., claimed the lives of an engineer and a miner who went into the stricken mine in a valiant attempt to rescue others. The tragedy and the sacrifices so moved Andrew Carnegie that he promptly took action on his then novel idea of honoring and helping the “heroes of civilization.” The Commission’s Deed of Trust, dated March 12, 1904, established a $5 million fund to recognize persons in “peaceful vocations” who act to “preserve or rescue their fellows.” Since the Commission’s establishment, it has awarded more than $20 million to such “heroes of peace.” There are now hero funds in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.
Carnegie Hero Fund (Belgium)
On April 17, 1911, Carnegie informed the Belgian government of his donation of $230,000 in government bonds, the interest of which was to be used to support heroes of peace and the families of those who lost their lives as victims of their helpfulness. The fund was adopted by royal decree on July 13, 1911. The fund awards individuals who expose their lives to serious and threatening danger for the purpose of saving the life of another human being. An extraordinary degree of selflessness, the seriousness of the danger, and the exceptional circumstances in which the acts of heroism take place are taken into account. Awards include a medal of bronze, silver, or gold, and a diploma, and in some cases, just a diploma. Financial support is also granted to relieve the material needs of destitute families, and to help finance the studies of the heroes’ children. The fund recognizes about 50 cases a year.
Carnegie initiated the establishment of this fund on December 30, 1911, in a letter from him to King Frederik VIII. Royal assent by the King affirmed the fund, endowed with $125,000 on February 24, 1912. It recognizes outstanding acts of selfless heroism performed in Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, or in their territorial waters. The award consists of a diploma and 10,000 Danish crowns, or more in special cases, and in cases where the rescuers lose their lives, the fund may grant financial assistance to the surviving dependents. A medal may also be awarded in recognition of certain heroic acts. Awards are announced once a year, in December. For the past several years, the number of awards made annually has ranged from 15 to 30.
In a letter dated February 9, 1909, Carnegie offered to France the gift of an initial investment of $1 million, which was intended to honor and reward those who perform acts of civilian courage, and to aid the widows and orphans of rescuers who die. French President Armand Fallières accepted the gift on July 23, 1909. Before ceasing to exist in 2009, the fund recognized acts of bravery performed on French territory. Medals of bronze, silver, and vermeil, as well as certificates, were awarded to those who deliberately risked their lives to save human life, and cash grants often accompanied the award. During its century of existence, the foundation made more than 12,000 awards. In 2010, the remaining funds of Fondation Carnegie were transferred to the Franco-American Commission for Educational Exchange, Paris, and its archives were transferred to the Franco-American Friendship Museum in Blérancourt, France. The commission, which administers the Fulbright program between France and the U.S., has initiated a Fulbright grant named for Andrew Carnegie and sponsors projects linking schools in both countries.
In a letter dated June 17, 1911, Carnegie expressed his satisfaction that the Italian government had accepted his offer of $750,000 to establish a fund in Italy to undertake work similar to that of the hero fund in the United States. The fund was recognized under Italian law on September 25, 1911. In addition to awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals to heroes and heroines, the fund also makes monetary grants in exceptional cases. In recent years, the number of awards has averaged about 30 a year.
In a letter dated March 23, 1911, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carnegie expressed his pleasure that The Netherlands had agreed to establish the Heldenfonds. He endowed the fund with a gift of $200,000, saying that he felt the amount would “meet the cost of maintaining injured heroes and their families during disability of the heroes, and the widows and children of heroes who may lose their lives…” The Heldenfonds awards silver and bronze medals, together with a certificate. The number of heroic acts awarded has averaged 45 in recent years.
Carnegie Heltefond for Norge was established on March 21, 1911. The fund grants awards to people who, on Norwegian territory, perform voluntary acts of civilian courage to save the lives of others “in peaceful pursuit and surroundings.” For a heroic act to be recognized, it must involve risk to the rescuer’s life. A board of three members who are appointed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce governs the fund. In addition to the chair, members are the U.S. Ambassador to Norway and a Norwegian citizen. Financed by interest income, the fund awards bronze, silver, and gold medals, financial grants, and diplomas to those honored for their bravery. Awards are decided by judgment of the board, with reference, if possible, to reports and comments from the local police superintendent.
Carnegiestiftelsen was established on October 6, 1911, in response to a letter Andrew Carnegie had written to the King of Sweden at the beginning of that year offering $230,000 for a hero fund. The fund awards individuals who voluntarily, or otherwise beyond what may be deemed to be their duty, have, by some gallant action in the peaceful walks of life, risked their lives in order to save human lives in the territory of Sweden and on Swedish ships. For many years, the fund offered money to those who had suffered when saving or trying to save lives, and also to the families of heroes when there was a need. Currently, the social insurance system in Sweden normally helps in such situations, and, according to the statutes of the fund, it cannot offer money if the social authorities are obliged to help. Today, the award consists of a gold watch, a diploma, and a monetary grant.
The Carnegie Rescuers Foundation (Switzerland) was established on April 28, 1911, shortly after the Federal Council accepted Carnegie’s gift of $130,000. The Foundation grants awards to people who, on Swiss territory, risk their lives in peaceful endeavors to save the lives of their fellows. For an act of heroism to be recognized, the rescuer must have exposed his life or health to a real danger. Persons recognized by the Foundation receive a certificate; engraved bronze, silver, and gold medals are also awarded, as are wristwatches and monetary grants to the rescuers and their families. Young people receive a voucher for a hot-air balloon ride or a helicopter flight. Since the establishment of the Foundation, over 8,300 people have been recognized, and more than three million Swiss francs in subsidies have been paid to rescuers and their families. Awards and monetary grants are announced annually.
The Carnegie Hero Fund Trust recognizes voluntary acts of heroism that involve risk to the rescuer’s life performed in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the surrounding territorial waters. Those selected for recognition receive a leather-bound certificate and citation, and in cases of outstanding heroism involving repeated efforts to save a life, a bronze medallion is awarded. The fund also provides financial assistance, if necessary, to heroes who have suffered physically or financially, or to the families of heroes who have been killed in their act. The name of the hero or heroine is also inscribed in the Trust’s Roll of Honor, which is kept in the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline.