Carnegie Corporation Awards $5.5 million in 9/11 Memorial Grants to NYC Libraries and Washington, D.C. Students


The board of trustees of Carnegie Corporation of New York approved grants of $4.5 million to three New York City public library systems and $1 million to the District of Columbia College Access Program in memory of the men, women and children killed in New York and at the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. Both awards will be made in the name of those who died, and become living memorials that can serve to build, educate and renew a generation of future citizens in New York and in the nation’s capital who will be at the forefront of tomorrow’s America.

“Part of the strength of America has always been its ability to face adversity and learn from it,” says Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, “and we believe these grants, to important institutions of learning, can be appropriate symbols of commemoration for the families of those who lost loved ones, as well as for the communities still reeling from the attacks and searching for ways to rebuild.”

“The outpouring of philanthropic goodwill following September 11th unleashed the power of Americans to come to the aid of their neighbors,” says Helene Kaplan, chair of the board of trustees of the Corporation. “New York has been a dynamic city of immigrants throughout its history. Libraries have played a vigorous role in the city, meeting the needs of its new citizens and we thought it most befitting at this time to contribute to a book fund that serves the public and community in New York City, which faces such financial pressures following the events of 9/11.”

The $4.5 million challenge grant to support the book collection at the New York Public Library and at the Brooklyn and Queens libraries was announced at a news conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the New Amsterdam branch of the New York Public Library near City Hall. The grant not only commemorates the lives of those lost on September 11th but also comes at a time of great need in the city’s history when it faces major deficits, necessitating cuts in every city agency, including public libraries. “We hope this challenge gift will be matched by private contributions to libraries and other beloved city institutions and serve as a catalyst for other public-private partnerships,” says Gregorian. “We believe, now more than ever, citizens must partner with city leaders to keep the strength of New York City’s cultural and arts heritage robust.”

“Andrew Carnegie believed in the role of the library in general and the circulating library in particular, and in its power to reach everyday New Yorkers,” says Gregorian. “His contributions, which established the branch libraries, made New York the envy of the world. In earlier days, immigrants could find access to the world of ideas in their circulating library, and today’s immigrants and citizens must have no less. In this post-September 11th world, with its attendant challenges to this great city, we must ensure that the vision of Andrew Carnegie for New Yorkers—a vision of resiliency, drive and thirst for knowledge—is not compromised. We believe this challenge grant will ensure that the libraries, so critical to the public, continue to be centers of vitality, knowledge, tolerance and opportunity.”

Each book purchased through this challenge fund will have a bookplate commemorating those who were lost on September 11th, so that years from now, new readers will not forget the sacrifice made by so many in the name of America’s freedom, values and way of life.

In Washington, D.C., where DC-CAP—the District of Columbia College Access Program—has helped to double the number of public high school students enrolling in college, the Corporation will make a $1 million award to the program in memory of those who were killed at the Pentagon on September 11th. “The Corporation has always believed that knowledge can lead to understanding, and we feel that the most important lasting memorial we can make to the men and women who were killed when the plane crashed into the Pentagon is to make an investment in the leaders of tomorrow’s Washington,” says Gregorian.

DC-CAP, a nonprofit organization committed to encouraging and enabling D.C. public high school students to enroll in and graduate from college, is a frontline organization working directly with the city’s public school system and its students in an attempt to reverse their dismal college participation statistics. When DC-CAP began operations in 1999, less than 55 percent of the District of Columbia public school freshmen were earning a high school diploma and only one-third were pursuing any type of post-secondary education. Today, 64 percent of D.C. public high school students are enrolling in college.

The organization was instrumental in getting Congress to pass a law that offers D.C. high school graduates in-state tuition benefits at any of the nation’s state colleges, which makes college both more accessible and affordable for many D.C. students. DC-CAP sponsors seminars for students and their parents on the college selection and application process, as well as where to seek financial assistance, and awards “Last Dollar” scholarships to thousands of disadvantaged students to help close the financial needs gap. In each of the city’s 18 public high schools, DC-CAP has college resource centers staffed with advisors who work one-on-one with students. The organization continues to work with the students for up to five years of college. DC-CAP provides services for more than 12,000 high school students and has enrolled nearly 3,000 D.C. students in college.

“We are most grateful that Carnegie Corporation of New York has made this award to the program in the name of the victims of the September 11th tragedy,” says Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Company and president of the DC-CAP board of directors. “New Yorkers know most directly the threat that September 11th posed to the nation and its future, and we agree the best way to face this changed world is with an enlightened and educated public. We know, in the city of Washington, more of our young people must go to and graduate from college. This grant will help to make that possible.”

In 2002, Carnegie Corporation of New York made the first installment on its $10 million pledge following the September 11th tragedy. The grants commemorated the role of teachers in responding to events that day and the pivotal role they play in students’ lives. Another set of grants responded to the needs and recognized the role of the media in keeping the greater New York community informed about terrorism, international events and the rebuilding needs of the city. $1.4 million was awarded to the two public school districts which serve the city’s elementary school age children and which were directly affected by the devastation. Grants included awards to establish two school libraries in the districts, along with financial support that would respond to specific needs of teachers in the districts. Four high schools also directly affected were given support in the name of teachers who had to help students to both evacuate their schools on 9/11 and return to new locations to continue their school year. $1.6 million was awarded to media organizations -- WNYC Radio and WNET, Channel 13 -- both of which lost antennas atop the World Trade Center, and to news organizations that serve New York’s well-respected public broadcasters.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $1.6 billion on September 30, 2002. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.