AUGUST TURAK FOUNDATION (previously SELF KNOWLEDGE SYMPOSIUM FOUNDATION) is a spiritual and educational nonprofit founded by August Turak in 1999. Our foundation was formed in order to instruct the public on subjects useful to all individuals well-being and beneficial to the community and organizations on a global level.

The August Turak Foundation is organized and operated exclusively for spiritual and educational purposes. Our educational purposes are to serve others by encouraging people to discover methods and techniques for examining their lives, thereby creating a space in which they can form personal strategies for pursuing more meaningful and joyful lives.

The aim of all August Turak Foundation activities and efforts is to improve the quality of life for people, communities, and organizations through the pursuit of self-knowledge, by introducing them to the power of service and selflessness. The primary methodology for carrying out August Turak Foundation’s educational purpose is through writing, seminars, lectures, speaking engagements, keynotes, workshops, retreats, and other similar programs.

Early on

August Turak spent his early years searching for answers to life’s biggest questions. Who am I? Why I am here? What is my purpose? What is the true meaning of life? In his own quest for self-knowledge and his search for answers, he went unbelievable places and met amazing people. Turak set out to learn everything he could and share these deep and meaningful experiences with others.


August Turak’s new tell-all memoir, Not Less Than Everything: One Man’s Quest for Spiritual Enlightenment, reveals how he overcame meaningless depression through a daring quest for life’s purpose. Through a series of wildly entertaining stories and life lessons, Turak offers a powerful blueprint for a purposeful life. A life overflowing with joy, peace, and above all gratitude.

It is my sincere hope that my effort
to be authentic is rewarded, and that you find me to be the credible
witness for the incredible I set out to be.

– August Turak, from Not Less Than Everything: One Man’s Quest for Spiritual Enlightenment

August Turak established the Self Knowledge Symposium (SKS) Student Group in 1989 to help students “learn how to live a life of meaning and purpose.” From North Carolina State University to Duke University, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the SKS spread like wildfire.

 In 1999, the SKS incorporated the Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation (SKSF) as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization and has successfully served in spreading this message of services and selflessness since our inception with constant support and direction from our Founder and our Board of Directors.

 In 2023, the Board of Directors, determined to honor our esteemed founder, convinced Turak to change the name of our beloved nonprofit to the more befitting, August Turak Foundation as we head into our twenty fifth year of service.


The August Turak Foundation is currently operated on donations and honorariums. Over the years, August Turak continues to fund the foundation, and any remuneration he receives from his writing, speaking engagements, consulting, or personal coaching are donated back to our foundation to underwrite our ongoing efforts. His books and the rights to his award-winning essay have been transferred to the August Turak Foundation and all royalties are and will continue to be reinvested into our future efforts to spread our message of higher meaning and purpose to a world bereft of meaning and purpose.

Please consider making your tax deductible donation today! 


No part of the August Turak Foundation’s net earnings will inure to the benefit of private shareholders or individuals. The August Turak Foundation will not be organized or operate for the benefit of private interest, and will not, as a substantial part of its activities, attempt to influence legislation or participate to any extent in a political campaign or against any candidate of public office. August Turak Foundation does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender, class, religious affiliation, or physical ability.

The SKS was started as a student group at NC State in 1989, and it soon established charters at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University in the early 90’s. Each chapter was either directly or indirectly overseen by August Turak or another adult member of the SKS during this time.

SKS Student Group History

Dr. Will Willimon, the former Dean of the Duke University Chapel, is a theologian and bishop in the United Methodist Church. He is currently Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School. Dr. Willimon said that he will never forget the day that August Turak came striding into his gothic office in the Duke University Chapel over twenty years ago.

That day, Dr. Willimon recalls, is the day that he encountered one of God’s most curious, surprising, and challenging creations—Augie Turak. Intense yet warm, disarmingly direct but unthreatening, both reflective and passionate. Dr. Willimon has met many people over the years; very few were as unforgettable.

In a few minutes, Dr. Willimon heard how Turak, while earning a college degree, had recklessly read himself into the wisdom of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Pascal, St. John of the Cross, Huang Po, and anybody else who might help him get to the bottom of life’s meaning and purpose. Later, even as a businessman and successful entrepreneur, Augie had never abandoned his quest for Plato’s life worth living. That is when Augie told Dr. Willimon that he felt called to pass on what he had learned to college students so they wouldn’t “get college but miss wisdom.”

Soon, Augie founded the Self Knowledge Symposium (SKS) to help students “learn how to live a life of meaning and purpose.” From North Carolina State University, to Duke University, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the SKS spread like wildfire. Dr. Willimon recalled one of the most memorable teaching experiences of his life was spending an evening with Augie’s SKS students at the University of North Carolina. His speaking invitation read: “Share what you have learned about life and God.” A few months later, three hundred students listened attentively, and then eagerly bombarded Dr. Willimon with questions for the next three hours. At eleven o’clock Dr. Willimon recalls finally pleading, “I’ve got to go home. I’m too old for this much intellectual intensity!”

Dr. Willimon described the SKS as the organizational embodiment of Augie’s character: Socrates on steroids.