Yo-Yo Ma Joins the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

June 18, 2021

Distinguished cellist and educational innovator will serve as a Board Trustee

Today the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced that Yo-Yo Ma will join the Board of Trustees. Well known as a once-in-a-generation cellist, Ma’s work outside the concert hall is driven by his enduring belief in the power of music and culture to generate the trust and empathy required to connect people to one another, to their local communities, and to the world as a whole.

Yo-Yo-Ma photo

Photo Credit: Jason Bell

“It is a joy to announce that Yo-Yo will join the Carnegie board,” says Carnegie President Timothy Knowles. “His wisdom, generous spirit, and unparalleled ability to convene people across boundaries will be invaluable to the Foundation’s future. His commitment to young people across the globe and to the power of passion-driven learning will be instrumental to our pursuit of educational equity.”

“I am honored that Tim and the board have invited me to join them on this adventure ” says Ma. “And I’m excited to build on Carnegie’s legacy as we work towards educational equity for all—a goal at the heart of creating a more collaborative, just, and sustainable world.”

As a musician, educator, and innovator, Ma strives to foster the connections that can dissolve borders, stimulate the imagination, and spark collaboration. In 1998, he founded the nonprofit organization Silkroad—a collective of artists from around the world who create music that engages their many traditions—as a catalyst for promoting learning through the arts and fostering multicultural artistic exchange. In the years since, Silkroad has led to an increased engagement with public education, including through classroom curriculum and educator professional development programs designed to spur interest in the arts and foster interdisciplinary connections.

For Ma, music provides a tool for public service. Public events and creative experiences inspire new relationships, engender empathy, and connect people who otherwise might be riven. To that end, in August 2018, Ma undertook a two-year journey around the world to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello with local artists in 36 locations. He also has recently begun a project that brings people together in national parks around science, nature, and the arts to engage in important civic conversations—the idea being that national lands are sacred secular spaces that connect people across their divisions. In both of these endeavors, Ma demonstrates how culture can help to build a stronger society and a better future.

“One of the best things about having Yo-Yo join the Board is that it is impossible to imagine what insights we will gain,” says Knowles. “To a person, the Carnegie Trustees are catalyzers, big thinkers, and extraordinary practitioners. Yo-Yo will bring still more power and passion to the collective.”

About Carnegie

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to solving long-standing inequities in educational outcomes. The Foundation addresses problems that impact large numbers of students; tests innovations on the ground; understands what works, why it works, and in what contexts; and shares what it learns for use by others. In so doing, Carnegie integrates the discipline of improvement science and the use of structured improvement networks to build the education field’s capacity to improve.