First Andrew Carnegie Medals Awarded to Seven Visionaries of Modern Philanthropy

Carnegie Centennial


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Inaugural Laureates Are Philanthropists Whose Names 
and Careers Link Old and New Philanthropy

Celebrating the legacy of the man who 100 years ago shepherded in the era of modern philanthropy, the inaugural Andrew Carnegie Medals of Philanthropy were awarded today to seven world-renowned benefactors who have forged new visions for the philanthropic community as it embarks on a new century -- and millennium -- of giving.

The laureates of the first Andrew Carnegie Medals -- some of whom represent families -- are among the most illustrious in the history of philanthropy. They are Ambassadors Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg on behalf of the Annenberg Foundation, Brooke Astor, Irene Diamond, the Gates family, David and Laurance S. Rockefeller on behalf of the Rockefeller family, George Soros and Ted Turner.

The awards ceremony took place at the New York Public Library, symbolizing the great importance Mr. Carnegie placed on libraries. His early philanthropic contributions focused on libraries and some 2,500 public libraries were built in his name around the world.

"The Andrew Carnegie Medals of Philanthropy honor an extraordinary group of benefactors who understand the pivotal role that philanthropy plays in developing and sustaining our democratic institutions," said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York and chair of the executive committee of the 21 Carnegie institutions worldwide that spearheaded the centennial events.

"The laureates represent the diversity of the philanthropic community and its wide range of views on giving," Gregorian added. "December 10th offers an unprecedented opportunity to showcase these remarkable people, who are following in the path of Mr. Carnegie. By celebrating his legacy and theirs, we seek to reinvigorate and challenge the philanthropic community for tomorrow."

Also serving on the executive committee of the Carnegie Centennial were Maxine Frank Singer, president of Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Jessica T. Mathews, president of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

An audience of cultural, philanthropic and government leaders attended as history's first Carnegie Medals were presented by dignitaries with household names. The presenters included television journalists Tom Brokaw, Bill Moyers and Barbara Walters; Pulitzer-Prize winning historian David McCullough; AOL Time Warner Co-Chief Operating Officer Richard D. Parsons; the respected AIDS researcher and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and World Bank Managing Director Mamphela Ramphele. CNN's Senior Anchor Judy Woodruff, a trustee of Carnegie Corporation of New York, served as the master of ceremonies.

The awards ceremony celebrated one of the most important financial transactions of the 20th century, when J.P. Morgan purchased U.S. Steel for $480 million (the equivalent of $10.6 billion today) from Andrew Carnegie, who then devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy on a level not then seen in America or anywhere else. By his death, Mr. Carnegie had given away 90 percent of his fortune.

The awards ceremony formed the high point of the daylong centennial celebration, during which leaders of Carnegie institutions worldwide held a first-ever joint board meeting aimed at revitalizing their missions prior to jointly awarding the Carnegie medals and bronze bust of Andrew Carnegie to the seven laureates.

The Carnegie family of institutions voted on a resolution to select and award the Andrew Carnegie Medals of Philanthropy biennially.

According to citations for the awardees, Ambassadors Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, who jointly head the Annenberg Foundation, were selected for the historic role their foundation has played in helping America's schoolchildren meet the challenges of the 21st century and for their personal commitment to strengthening education and the arts. Among their many gifts is the $500 million Annenberg Challenge Grant, the largest single gift ever bestowed on public education in the United States. Ambassador Leonore Annenberg accepted the award on behalf of her husband and herself.

Brooke Astor, who as president of the Vincent Astor Foundationhas been a major force behind the revitalization of the New York Public Library, was chosen for her unstinting efforts on behalf of New York City's great cultural and education institutions during 40 years of inspired philanthropy.

Irene Diamond -- who discovered the property that became the Hollywood classic Casablanca and who helped bring Burt Lancaster and Robert Redford to Hollywood -- was selected for her trailblazing gifts to combat AIDS and to educate the public about the disease. She served as president of the Aaron Diamond Foundation, which distributed all of its assets and became the nation's largest private supporter of AIDS research. She was also recognized for her continuing support of the arts in New York City.

The Gates family -- William H. Gates III, Melinda French Gates and William H. Gates Sr. -- who are setting new standards of giving for the 21st century as heads of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were selected for their leadership in reaffirming an ethic of responsibility to the world at large and for their landmark efforts to promote health equity around the globe, help all students achieve and to bridge the digital divide. William H. Gates, Sr., accepted the award on behalf of the Gates family.

The Rockefeller family was recognized for its exceptional record of philanthropy over the last century. Third and fourth generations of the family now continue to build on philanthropic roots established by John D. Rockefeller, who, along with Andrew Carnegie, set standards for all who followed. David Rockefeller accepted the award on behalf of himself, his brother, Laurance S. Rockefeller, and the entire Rockefeller family.

George Soros, whose global network of foundations and Open Society Institutes spend nearly a half-billion dollars each year to support projects in education, public health, civil society development and other areas, was chosen as a laureate for his leadership and vision in fostering open societies and a better life for billions of citizens of the world.

Ted Turner was selected for his leadership in the philanthropic arena, particularly with his historic $1 billion gift to the United Nations, for his passionate stewardship of the environment and for the Nuclear Threat Initiative to reduce the global threat posed by nuclear and biological weapons.

Capping the Carnegie Centennial was an evening concert at Carnegie Hall, which Andrew Carnegie founded in 1889 after acquiring seven parcels of land on 57th Street, considered at the time an outpost on the city's cultural map.

Andrew Carnegie's philanthropic efforts actually began in 1870. In "The Gospel of Wealth," which he published in 1889, he outlined his philosophy of giving, which asserted that the rich are merely "trustees" of their wealth and are under a moral obligation to distribute it in ways that promote the welfare and happiness of the common man. He died in 1919, leaving his wife and their daughter. His great grandsons Roswell Miller and Kenneth Miller -- whose 15-month-old son is the first in the family to be named Andrew Carnegie -- attended Carnegie Centennial events.


Andrew Carnegie founded 21 organizations that today bear his name. Each of the organizations has its own funds and trustees and is independently managed. The organizations are Carnegie Hall, New York (founded 1889), the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh (1895), Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh (1900), the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Dunfermline (1901), Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C. (1902), the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, Dunfermline (1903), the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, Pittsburgh (1904), the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust, United Kingdom, Dunfermline (1908), Fondation Carnegie, France (1909), Carnegie Heltefund for Norge, Norway (1911), Fondation Carnegie pour less Sauveteurs, Switzerland (1911), Carnegie Heldenfonds, The Netherlands (1911), Carnegiestiftelsen, Sweden (1911), Carnegie Belønningsfud for Heltemod, Denmark (1911), Fondation Carnegie, Belgium (1911), Fondazione Carnegie, Italy (1911), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, California (1905), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C. (1910), Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York City (1911), the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, Dunfermline (1913) and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, New York City (1914).