These Nine Individuals Are Transforming 21st-Century Philanthropy

Sunday, August 11, was the centenary of the death of the world's greatest philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

The following day (August 12), nine present-day philanthropists were named as recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of their Carnegie-like commitment to charitable causes.

The medal, which has been given out ten times since 2001, not only celebrates generous philanthropists, but those who espouse the values of the great man.

“He had a revolutionary vision of giving away his fortune, not as charity, but through investments in people that have the potential to achieve lasting change," said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York and chairman of the selection committee.

Filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, businesswoman Mellody Hobson, are busy spending the $4.05 billion that Disney paid for Lucasfilm in 2012. Following in the footsteps of Carnegie, who gave most of his wealth towards education, the Lucases are spending heavily on learning through the George Lucas Educational Foundation which aims to transform K–12 education.

Morton L. Mandel 

Mandel once" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">dropped off the" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: italic;">Forbes billionaires' list, but that's something Carnegie would approve of with his mantra that "the man who dies thus rich dies disgraced." The sibling co founders of Premier Industrial Corporation have since started the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation to "contribute to the flourishing of the United States and Israel as just, inclusive, compassionate, and democratic societies."

Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis 

Allen & Co. Holds Its Annual Sun Valley Conference In Idaho

Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

GETTY IMAGES" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">The Kravises, who owe their wealth to the global investment firm KKR, are heavyweight philanthropists whose names now bedeck some of America's finest institutions. These include Columbia University Business School, where they recently upped a $100 million gift to $125 million. Other funding has gone towards the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University and the New York Philharmonic.

Dr. Leonard Tow

Another Carnegie condition of being a millionaire is to give most of your wealth away while you are still alive. As a signatory of the Giving Pledge, which commits its participants to give away over half of their wealth, Dr. Leonard Tow is on his way to fulfilling this pledge. His Tow Foundation funds medicine, higher education, culture and criminal justice reform in the U.S.

Robert F. Smith 

Angela Bassett Receives And Honorary Degree During The Morehouse College 135th Commencement

Robert F. Smith's famous address at Morehouse College. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)


"My family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans," Smith said to stunned students at Morehouse College in May this year. The gift to pay off their student loans cost him an estimated $40 million. But it was pure Carnegie: The great Scotsman offered to pay the tuition fees of poor students in Scotland over 100 years ago. By 1910 half of Scotland's students were on Carnegie scholarships.

Anne G. Earhart

Getty heir Anne Earhart champions environmental causes through her Marisla Foundation, which has donated to over 600 non-profits. Her current passion: The oceans, specifically working to mitigate habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing.

Sir Ian Wood KT GBE

The Queen And Duke Of Cambridge Attend The Thistle Service In Edinburgh

Sir Ian Wood attends The Thistle Service at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)


The only British recipient of this year's Carnegie Medal is, like Carnegie himself, a Scot. Sir Ian Wood set up the energy services company, the Wood Group, before retiring in 2012 to focus more on philanthropy. But this is no mere retirement hobbie, The Wood Foundation works with over 70,000 smallholder tea farmers on 20,000 hectares of East Africa. In Scotland, The Wood Foundation continues Carnegie's legacy of supporting educational and economic development through school, economic and community programmes.


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