Earning an "Andy"

Click here to see the "Andy" award winners.

The first "Andy'" awards are given to four young people who excel in public service in art, science, music or literature

One permanent result of the Carnegie Centennial year will be an annual award given to youth between the ages of 15 and 25 who have shown outstanding leadership in one of the four disciplines celebrated at Carnegie Museums and Library. We hear often about adult accomplishments being recognized by Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, Oscars, "genius" awards, and good citizenship acclaim. And we reward youth regularly for sports ability and academic excellence in school. But we seldom honor young people for outstanding personal dedication to art, science, music and literature.

The Carnegie Centennial Award is not designed for the most accomplished young performer in music, literature or art, or for the most gifted scientist-but rather it goes to youth who show outstanding civic leadership as volunteers, and who initiate and serve in projects to enhance and enrich the lives of others. The candidates must be nominated by a community, neighborhood group, agency, club or organization within Allegheny County which sponsors the volunteer service, or recognizes its vital and social importance to others.

This is a Carnegie-spirited award. In 1904 Andrew Carnegie created his Hero Award, for citizen volunteers who helped someone in danger, often saving the other person's life and sometimes losing his or her own life in the process. It was the self-sacrifice, the instinct to help, that Carnegie admired, for he saw it as coming from a deep wellspring of the human spirit-and this he believed was a basic quality upon which civilization depended. He believed in the civilizing influences of literature, music, art and science, and wanted to encourage that. In the same spirit the Carnegie Centennial Awards encourage young people to pursue their love of science and these arts.

"It was difficult to explain simply the concept of the Andy award," says Lorene Vinski, assistant to the president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. She and others struggled to get the idea right, and the wording of the application, and the proper rewards, true to the purpose. Why not give a college scholarship? Other institutions and groups already award them, and Carnegie Museums and Library are in themselves places of educational opportunity. In addition, the Museums and Library are driven by their grassroots mission, and community service goals. Why should an award for young people extend to age 25? Because college students should not be ruled out, and they are still in the educational system, without full-time jobs, and their volunteerism deserves encouragement. Why is "initiative" or "leadership" in serving the arts and sciences important? Because it shows adaptation to modern life. Who could predict the influence of computers upon literature, or the rise of ecology to scientific importance, and how people are changed as a result?

For these and other reasons, the Carnegie Centennial Award was a logical result of the Centennial year celebrations. "We wanted this award to reflect Andrew Carnegie's philosophy that individuals who devote themselves, without reward, to work for the good of the community are our most valuable asset," said Janie Thompson, Chair of the Carnegie Centennial committee. "We were extremely impressed by the young people who were nominated and by the caliber of the projects they led. Our four winners truly embody the Carnegie ideal."

At the awards presentation on November 9, 1996, each of the young people received a cash award of $250, a special guest pass to Carnegie Museums, and a replica of the appropriate "noble quartet" sculpture: either Shakespeare, Bach, Michelangelo or Galileo. The nominating organization also receives a $250 cash award, and can make a selection from a list of resources and program opportunities available at the museums and library.

All the nominations were initially reviewed by a screening committee, and a Board of Selectors, comprised of leaders from Allegheny County, made the final selections. The Centennial Award Committee is co-chaired by Nancy Rackoff and Susie Wean, who trust that this first set of awards is the start of a tradition that will honor many outstanding young people who volunteer to make a difference in their neighborhoods.

For more information on the Carnegie Centennial Award, call 412/622-3335

-R. Jay Gangewere