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Carnegie United Kingdom Trust

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Carnegie United Kingdom Trust

The Carnegie UK Trust is an independent, endowed charitable trust based in Scotland. It is incorporated by a Royal Charter.


The Trust is one of over twenty foundations established by Scottish-born American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It is one of several trusts based in Dunfermline, Fife, where Carnegie was born in 1835. It shares purpose-built premises with the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and the Carnegie Heroes Trust.


The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust was founded in 1913 to address the changing needs of the people of the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is one of the oldest and most respected charitable trusts in the British Isles. The trust deed sets out Andrew Carnegie’s purpose in establishing the Trust as being:

the improvement of the well-being of the masses of the people of Great Britain and Ireland by such means as are embraced within the meaning of the word ‘charitable’ and which the Trustees may from time to time select as best fitted from age to age for securing these purposes, remembering that new needs are constantly arising as the masses advance.

The endowment of the Trust provided income of £100,000 to be spent every year from 1913. At that time this was a very significant amount of money, causing one commentator to observe that ‘how they spent this money was a matter of national importance’.

The Trustees had to fulfil promises already made by Andrew Carnegie himself or by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. These commitments were mainly for public libraries or church organs. While the Trust continued to spend significant sums on the public library service, they also started to explore what else they could do within the broad remit given them by the Trust deed.

This led to many debates about where the Trust should invest its efforts, but the breadth of the trust deed allowed the Trust a wide canvas on which to pursue its aims. The history of the Trust reflects the broad sweep of events in the 20th and early 21st century: the early concerns with physical welfare giving way increasingly to concerns about social welfare; the impact on society of two wars, and periods of profound economic depression; changing attitudes to immigration and disability; changes in the role and status of women and young people; and changes in the cultural environment. And behind this, enduring concerns about the needs of rural communities, the importance of education in the broadest sense, and the importance of promoting the wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Over the past century, the Trust has commissioned ground-breaking reports on major social issues, carried out extensive grant-giving programmes, created and supported new organisations, and initiated innovative social projects like the Land Settlement programme in the 1930s which aimed to help unemployed men to make a living from the land.

Projects have included everything from creating some of the first residential colleges of adult education and Carnegie College in Leeds, which is now part of Leeds Metropolitan University, funding the Workers Educational Association, to support for the first pre-school playgroups; from setting up pioneering courses in social work and librarianship training to supporting the first Leonard Cheshire home; from pouring money into the creation of playing fields to supporting many of the organisations we take for granted today, such as the Youth Hostels Association, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, the Wildlife Trusts and Shelter.

Commissions have been set up to consider rural development, the Third Age, and the role of civil society. The Trust has often been ahead of its time: looking at diet in the UK before the Second World War, tackling the needs of disabled people, working for changes in social attitudes many years or even decades before these were recognised in government policy or statute. The Trust was an early advocate for the establishment of National Parks, subsequently introduced by the post war Labour Government.

The Trust has also had a longstanding interest in the arts and museums and over the decades funded numerous high profile projects at national and local levels from the restoration of the Book of Kells in Ireland, the publication of ten volumes of Tudor church music, and the publication of contemporary British musical compositions in the 1920s, to supporting national and local arts organisations.

The Carnegie UK Trust's youth programme - The Carnegie Young People Initiative (CYPI) - ran between 1996 and 2007. CYPI was throughout this period the only independently funded national think tank in the UK dedicated to promoting young people’s voice in decision-making. The Trust funded research, conferences, demonstration projects, training, networking, publications and online initiatives. The Trust also engaged in advocacy, for example, supporting the right of 16-year-olds to have a vote in local and general elections. Furthermore, Trust staff acted as advisors to government departments, local authorities, the NHS, schools and the voluntary sector.

Through an aligned grants programme, the Trust funded over one hundred community-based and young people-led projects across the UK in a spirit of experimentation, encouraging learning and the exchange of good ideas - sharing experiences as to what works and what does not. In total, CYPI provided £1.78 million of direct funding to 130 projects across the British Isles which sought to help younger people participate more positively in society. In 2007 the Trust played a key convening role in bringing together a number of organisations and funders and securing over £4m to create Participation Works, the national centre for youth empowerment.

In 2004 the Trust decided to end its ninety year reactive grants programmes to become primarily a proactive operating foundation, working at a more strategic level to seek to change public opinion, policy and practice. The Trust in effect became more of a 'think tank with muddy feet' and increased its in house staff team. This led to a re-emphasis upon the establishment of independent Commissions of Inquiry into the future of civil society and democracy and the future for sustainable rural communities. Both of these Commissions produced a number of influential reports on future trends, for example ways in which communities and civil society organisations generally can prepare to deal with future shocks such as climate change. Linked to the work of these Commissions, the Trust funded over sixty local action research programmes. It invested around £4m, in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund and other foundations in this work. This included supporting the establishment of national and international communities of practice to ensure learning between projects and to feed this into its research and publications.

In 2007/08 the Trust took the lead amongst UK foundations in creating the UK's first university based research centres into philanthropy and charitable giving, in partnership with the UK and Scottish Governments and the Economic and Social Research Council. The Trust also led the establishment of a collaborative of UK foundations seeking to bridge social and environmental justice and to encourage joint funding between foundations.

It was during this time that the Trust's Royal Charter was changed to enable it to collaborate with foundations across the EU. It became an active member of the European Foundations Centre and jointly funded youth empowerment and rural community development work as part of the Network of European Foundations. For the first time for many decades the Trust also began closer links with the Carnegie foundations in the USA and Europe. In 2005 the Trust played the lead role in organising the first Carnegie International Philanthropy Symposium in Scotland, which raised the profile of Scottish philanthropy. Together with its sister Scottish based Carnegie Trusts, it hosted the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy for the first time in the UK. At this time the Trust also re-engaged with the world of libraries and books, co-funding the Carnegie Medal for Children's literature and organising a centenary festival for the first Carnegie library in 2007. The Trust also became a partner in organising the annual Scottish Festival of Politics with the Scottish Parliament.

The Trust moved to its new eco designed HQ in 2008.

Current Activities

The remit of the Trust has been the same since it began in 1913, although the approach has changed over time. There was an increasing concern that the Trust’s model of short-term funding, prevalent across the foundation world, had not been an effective way of addressing changing issues and needs. In 2004, Trustees decided to end the Trust's grant funding and to operate at a more strategic level in order to influence public policies and practice in more sustainable ways. One of the main reasons for this was the Trust's concern that the model of short-term, generally modest grant giving provided little evidence of sustainable change or impact upon deeper structural concerns in society. In relative terms the value of the endowment has also reduced significantly while the role of the state has increased, prompting a rethink of the role of the Trust

The Strategic for 2016-2020 reconfirms that decision, outlining the role of the organisation as an operating Trust that makes proactive decisions about its projects and activities. The Trust no longer takes unsolicited grant applications, but seeks to build partnerships with other organisations for specific pieces of work.

The Carnegie UK Trust continues to work to improve the wellbeing of people throughout the UK and Ireland by changing minds through influencing policy, and by changing lives through innovative practice and partnership work. The 2016-2020 Strategy highlights that the Trust’s work will pay particular regard to people who are disadvantaged. The Trust’s work from 2016-2020 is focused on the strategic objective of Enabling Wellbeing and the three thematic areas, Digital Futures, Flourishing Towns and Fulfilling Work.


The Trust celebrated its centenary in 2013, which was marked by several special projects. A book charting the last 100 years of the Trust, Pioneering Philanthropy, was published in April 2013, along with an online searchable archive of Trust minutes and publications. A series of concerts of Tudor church music was given by the vocal ensemble Stile Antico over the course of 2013. These concerts and a related disc honoured the Trust's work in publishing this repertoire in the 1920s. The Trust published new arrangements of carols to be sung by children and adult choirs as a contribution to community music making.

In recognition of the anniversary, the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy was held at the Scottish Parliament in October 2013, courtesy of the Presiding Officer. It was co-hosted by the Carnegie UK Trust and the other Carnegie Trusts based in Scotland and surrounded by a week-long festival called Andrew Carnegie's International Legacy Week. An exhibition of Warhol art was brought to Scotland and opened to the public for free in connection with these celebrations.

The Carnegie UK Trust centenary website can be found here.


About the Trust's work:

Strategic Plan 2016-2020

Our Current Projects

Annual Review 2014

'Key 2016 Reports:’


Gateway to Affordable Credit

Breaking the Link

Towards A Wellbeing Framework: One Year On

Key 2015 Reports:

Fairness Matters – report of the Fairer Fife Commission

Click and Connect – hyperlocal news case studies

The Enabling State Challenge – meet the winners

Ambition and Opportunity – a national strategy for public libraries in Scotland

Meeting the need for affordable credit

The Carnegie Position on Enterprise

Towards a Wellbeing Framework: Findings from the Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland

Digital Participation in Dumfries and Kirkcaldy

Finding and Protecting the Carnegie Playing Fields

Key 2014 Reports:

Places that love people

Making Digital Real

The Future's Bright - The Future's Local

A route map to an Enabling State

The Welsh Dragon: The success of enterprise education in Wales

Ten Steps for Charities and the Independence Referendum

Measuring What Matters in Northern Ireland

Key 2013 Reports:

Evidence Exchange

Make Your Local News Work

The Rise of the Enabling State

The Enabling State: From Rhetoric to Reality

Economic literacy training for UK-based journalists

Economic literacy training for civil society organisations

Shifting the Dial in Scotland

Weathering the Storm

Going the Last Mile

Across the Divide

TestTown Project Leaflet

Key 2012 Reports:

A Charitable Concern?

The Enabling State

Shifting the Dial: From wellbeing measures to policy practice

Voicing the Public Interest

Future Directions in Rural Development

Pride in Place - Tackling Incivilities

Rural Broadband - Reframing the Debate

Enterprising Minds

Global Rules, Local Rulers

A New Chapter - Public Library Services in the 21st Century

Better Journalism in the Digital Age

Older Reports include:

Appreciating Assets

Community Resilience

Making Good Society

Other Activities

As a modern operating trust with a century-old mandate to improve public wellbeing, we are required not just to influence ideas and policy, but also to show leadership in testing and delivering real-life solutions that improve wellbeing in communities across the UK and Ireland. So, while we may say that something has to be done, we will also try to find practical ways for that something to be done.

Our practice work takes forward the thought leadership generated by policy and research and designs practical pilot projects, often undertaken in partnership with other organisations working in the same areas.

Understanding Scottish Places (USP): Launched on 29 April 2015, USP is an innovative new tool to help towns’ practitioners and communities better understand the function of the towns they live and work in. Commissioned by the Scottish Government, the USP data platform was developed by a consortium led by Carnegie UK Trust and involving Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the University of Stirling and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. Freely available online, USP offers the opportunity to compare and contrast data about places across the country and helps users to collect local data about towns. Find out more at www.usp.scot.

TestTown: TestTown is the UK’s biggest high street business incubator programme. It encourages entrepreneurs to create innovative new businesses to help bring energy back to town centres and city districts. TestTown provides participants with bespoke business training, development funding and a low-risk, free trading environment from which to test out an idea.

  1. notwithoutme: The focus of #notwithoutme is on developing the digital skills of individual young people, and building capacity in the organisations that support them. The Trust aims to increase and improve digital inclusion for those who may be vulnerable, lacking in digital skills and unable to fully access the opportunities available to them. The Trust will share learning from the projects in order to influence practice in this important area.

Growing Livelihoods: Growing Livelihoods is working to create, test and promote new opportunities in smaller-scale food growing. It is a partnership project between the Carnegie UK Trust, Plunkett Foundation and the Land Settlement Association Charitable Trust. It builds on a connection starting in 1934 through the Land Settlement Association, a pioneering scheme which enabled thousands of people to achieve livelihoods as food growers which they would not have been able to achieve alone. Through Growing Livelihoods, the partners are supporting projects aimed at those new to the sector, young people or those seeking a new direction. This initiative has a particular focus on the use of co-operation and innovation to help create viable livelihoods in this sector.

Who to Contact

  • Martyn Evans, Chief Executive
  • Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy
  • Jim Metcalfe, Head of Practice and Development
  • Douglas White, Head of Advocacy
  • General Enquiries
  • References

    Carnegie United Kingdom Trust Wikipedia

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