Carnegie Corporation of New York: Grants for Higher Education


OVERVIEW: As one of the largest foundations in the United States, Carnegie's grants provide major support for education nonprofits, colleges, and K-12 schools through its Education program's focus on New Designs for Schools and Systems as well as Teaching and Human Capital Management. Universities have also received support through Carnegie's programs in Higher Education and Research in Africa and International Peace and Security. 

IP TAKE: Carnegie money reaches higher ed institutions through a wide range of avenues in education and international affairs, but unsolicited grant applications are rarely approved. 

PROFILE: Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 in order to "promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," the Carnegie Corporation is distinguished as "America's oldest grant making foundation." Today, Carnegie's programs focus on the key issues of "international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy." While the corporation does notably have a program specifically for "Higher Education and Research in Africa," it is Carnegie's Education program that will be of primary interest to U.S.-based higher ed grantseekers.  

Carnegie's education grant strategy features three focus areas. Of these, the New Designs for Schools and Systems and the Teaching and Human Capital Management programs merit particular attention from higher education institutions. New Designs is focused on “developing school models that use innovation, educational technology, and blended learning.” In practical terms, that translates to “redesigning how schools use teaching, scheduling, technology, and funding to create new systems for success” in line with “a comprehensive approach that seeks to replace the one-size-fits-all approach to learning with personalized instruction.”

Separately, the Teaching and Human Capital Management sub-program seeks to help facilitate the placement of “effective teachers and principals into high-need schools...through recruitment, training, evaluation, and leadership development with an emphasis on positions in the STEM fields.” A number of universities have earned recent funding through programs specifically focused on this area, as have organizations such as the Aspen Institute, which recently received a grant for a project directed at improving the attraction, preparation, and retention of aspiring community college presidents.

The foundation has also provided funding for a number of other initiatives related to higher level education. Among these, Carnegie recently provided a grant “to promote college access and completion,” as well as support for a recently-completed study that assessed the effectiveness of U.S. universities in preparing graduates for their lives and careers after college.

For organizations working on higher education issues in Africa, Carnegie’s Higher Education and Research in Africa program has as a broad goal to “enhance training, research, and retention of academics in select countries of sub-Saharan Africa.” Within the program are two especially important sub-areas: M.A. and Ph.D. programs, which “has worked to create and expand postgraduate training, research, and lecturer retention programs at four anchor universities in three countries,” and Academic Networks and Fellowships, which has “given postgraduate training, research, and publication opportunities to hundreds of African academics.”

Meanwhile, quite a few of Carnegie's grantees in its International Peace and Security Program in recent years have been academic institutions, typically prestigious research institutions. Carnegie is keenly interested in closing the gap between the academic and policy spheres. 

The bottom line: At Carnegie, there are certainly grants available for higher education nonprofits and colleges, both domestic and international, and Carnegie has historically accommodated innovative projects at all levels of education. To get started, review the eligibility criteria under the How to Apply section before sending your letter of inquiry (accepted year-round), keeping in mind that the foundation does “not seek” and “rarely fund[s] unsolicited grant applications.”  If your project is international, keep in mind as well that Carnegie is only able “for a small percent of funding to be granted to nonprofit organizations based in countries that are, or have been, members of the British Commonwealth.”


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