NEW YORK — Azim Premji, founder of the Azim Premji Foundation, is one of the nine recipients of this year’s prestigious Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
The international family of Carnegie institutions June 23 named the nine exceptional philanthropists as recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of their outstanding and innovative leadership in philanthropy, celebrating Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic ideals.
Their foresight and generosity have been effective in addressing a range of important issues, including school reform in India, social entrepreneurship, nuclear nonproliferation, career training, medical research, the arts, culture, women’s rights in China, and land conservation in South America, a press release noted.
“The recipients of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy were selected for their distinguished and longstanding contributions to the public good,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “The medal reflects Andrew Carnegie’s enduring legacy of philanthropy and is rooted in two core principles. First: with wealth comes responsibility. Second: individuals, whether guided by religious, civic, humanistic, or democratic aspirations, have the transformative power to use wealth to advance the public good.”
“Just as our founder demonstrated,” Gregorian continued, “the recipients inspire a culture of giving through their leadership, providing a model for the next generation of philanthropists.”
In citing Premji, the Carnegie press release said: After transforming Wipro Ltd. into a leading international corporation, Azim Premji turned his attention toward the inequities in Indian society through efforts to improve the country’s public school system. This extraordinary undertaking is driven by the Azim Premji Foundation’s direct field work, currently serving seven states and over 300,000 schools and with plans to expand.
A generous endowment from Premji enabled the foundation to establish the Azim Premji University in 2011, with a focus on school education and related fields of human development, Carnegie noted. Forty-six percent of the university’s student body comes from villages and small towns, with a majority committing to work in the social sector after graduation. The foundation’s university and field institutions work synergistically toward the goal of creating a more equitable and just India.
Recently Premji set up a fast-scaling grantmaking initiative that supports nonprofits working in areas that complement education, it added.
The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy was established in 2001 and is awarded every two years to individuals whose philanthropic work embodies the ideals of Andrew Carnegie’s vision, serving as a continuous inspiration to others. Having amassed what was then the greatest fortune on earth, the legendary American industrialist decided to give it all away with the stated goal of doing “real and permanent good in this world.”
The 22 Carnegie institutions in the United States and Europe nominate the medalists, and a selection committee representing seven of those institutions makes the final selection. The honorees are recognized as catalysts for good whose philanthropy has had a significant and lasting impact on a particular field, nation, or community of people.
The Carnegie institutions will award the medals during a formal ceremony at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Oct. 3, 2017.