Sideline: Carnegie Corporation, New York, Invests $10 Million to Deeper Understanding of Islam, Muslim Societies

Carnegie Corporation of New York on April 7, 2009 announced an initial $10 million investment to enrich the quality of America’s public dialogue on Islam and Muslim societies. Many of the foundation’s long-term programmatic priorities-from international security and immigrant integration to journalism and support for individual scholars-have integrated a focus on Islam into their grantmaking. The Corporation’s comprehensive strategy focuses on increasing public knowledge about the diversity of thought, cultures and history of Islam and Muslim communities, including those in the U.S.

Grants and allocations announced today, as well as investments made over the past six months, constitute the largest commitment by a U.S. foundation toward the development of a more complex understanding among Americans about Muslim communities here and throughout the world-revealing Islam’s rich diversity.

“There is a disconnection between many of our public conversations about Islam and our knowledge of it,” said Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian. “Carnegie Corporation has worked to help remedy this disconnect by contributing to a more fundamental comprehension about a religion of diverse expressions and cultures with 1.3 billion practitioners worldwide. We hope that our work will better equip Americans to make informed decisions about, and engage with, various Muslim communities in our midst as well as those abroad.”

Gregorian continued, “Our Islam-related grantmaking is, in part, a response to an increased demand since September 11, 2001 by cultural institutions, thinks tanks, elected officials, policymakers and journalists for more and better information about Islam as a religion, about Islamic civilizations, and about Muslim states and societies.”

Gregorian added that Carnegie Corporation’s thoroughly integrated program structure-which prioritizes the sharing of knowledge and experiences across disciplines-has helped to maximize the impact of the Islam work. 

“Understanding both Islam as a world religion and Islamic civilizations is one facet of the Corporation’s integrated grantmaking, but so is gaining greater understanding of the role of Muslim communities in America’s national life: today, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are approximately 2.5 million Muslims living in the United Sates, and those numbers are on the rise. Muslims comprise new streams in the multiplicity of ethnic, racial, linguistic and religious groups that for more than two centuries have come to the United States and contributed to the rich cultural and social tapestry that is our nation. And like others before them, they too must be integrated into our society and engage positively with our democracy and our democratic institutions.” 

Carnegie Corporation will support innovative, publicly accessible research by individual scholars; assist media to address the entire spectrum of Islamic religious and political thought; and outreach efforts by universities to connect their research to the broader public. The Corporation is also supporting efforts to inform specific audiences, including members of Congress, about the complex, diverse and rapidly changing landscape of contemporary Islam. 

Several of the new grants focus on developing professional and leadership skills including cultivating the new generation of American Muslim leaders, and improving the depth of media coverage by helping journalists develop a more complex understanding of Islam and Muslim societies.


For specific grants awarded, please read the full article:

Other Suggested Readings and Recommendations:

1. Read Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith, by Vartan Gregorian at or request a free printed copy of this monograph from the Corporation.
2. Read the on-line edition of Carnegie Reporter, published twice a year. Or request a free subscription of the printed edition at
Please also read Sideline: Vartan Gregorian’s Tribute to His Highness the Aga Khan at Brown University in 1996

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