Pensions for America’s Educators: TIAA-CREF, One of the Wealthiest Pension Funds in the World: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1918

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



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Andrew Carnegie created the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1905. The Foundation was given the primary charge of securing financial independence for higher education faculty members. In his Letter of Gift, Carnegie wrote that he “had reached the conclusion that the least rewarded of all the professions is that of the teacher in our higher education institutions." The Foundation’s first objective would be to remedy the disparity between the great value conferred on society by higher education faculty and the miserly financial benefit society gave faculty in return. In addition, however, Carnegie hoped that the Foundation would promote efficiency in higher education more broadly. The Foundation created the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), which was incorporated in the State of New York as a stock company in 1918, and funded by a $1 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation. TIAA would receive more than $7 million in grants from the Corporation over the next twenty-four years. In addition, higher education institutions made financial contributions to TIAA for the privilege of becoming members. By 2004, TIAA-CREF had a total of over $343 billion in assets under management. It was second on Fortune’s list of the largest U.S. mutual life and health insurers. More than three million individuals and 15,000 member institutions have been served by TIAA-CREF.



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