Mike Bloomberg donates $32.8 million to Howard Medical School
Howard University and Mike Bloomberg today announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies is making a $32.8 million gift to support scholarships for current College of Medicine students with financial need. The gift is part of a total $100 million awarded to the nation’s four historically Black medical schools over the next four years to help increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S. by significantly reducing the debt burden of approximately 800 medical students, many of whom face increased financial pressure due to COVID-19. The gift marks the largest donation to the College of Medicine in its history.
“Healthcare disparities exist for a myriad of reasons related to systemic infrastructural issues, not the least of which is the dearth of black doctors. Black doctors with cultural competency are a major part of the solution, but their path is often hampered by a compromised financial situation,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President of Howard University. “This gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies is the first stone dropped into a calm lake of opportunity and promise. The ripple effects that it will have on the lives of our students and our programs will carry on for generations.”
Currently in the U.S. only five percent of practicing physicians are Black, yet data proves that Black patients -- who are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans -- have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors. More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved in America as well as a reduction of the health issues that end up suppressing economic opportunity in Black communities. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ grant to the historically Black medical schools will provide scholarships up to $100,000 to nearly every medical student currently enrolled and receiving financial aid at these schools over the next four years. This is the first investment of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, a new effort to increase generational wealth among Black families and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities.
Although Black doctors are more likely to serve minority patients, and in medically-underserved areas, the devastating economic impact of the current pandemic threatens to worsen existing disparities potentially preventing current Black medical students with financial need from completing their degrees or by forcing Black medical school graduates to pick specialties that offer higher pay in the interest of paying off their medical school debt. Ultimately, the pandemic could both slow the placement of Black doctors in communities with the most need and significantly limit the ability of historically Black medical schools -- which have produced as many Black medical school graduates over the last 10 years as the top 10 non-HBMSs with the highest number of Black graduates -- to meet increased demand for financial assistance.
“COVID-19 has been especially devastating for the Black community, and the scarcity of Black doctors practicing in Black communities is one reason for it,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, and three-term mayor of New York City. “More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved and fewer health problems that limit economic opportunity. But right now, the burden of student debt and lack of financial aid means that the shortage of Black doctors could get even worse. During my campaign for president, I proposed a set of bold policies -- which we called the Greenwood Initiative -- to increase generational wealth among Black families and shrink the racial wealth gap. The commitment Bloomberg Philanthropies is making today is just the first step we will take to bring that work to life.”
With this strategic investment, Bloomberg Philanthropies strives to reduce health and wealth disparities in Black communities by improving health outcomes for Black Americans and accelerating the Black community’s ability to create generational wealth.
“The Bloomberg Philanthropies gift reaffirms that Howard Medicine Matters and this generosity will change the trajectory of our student’s post-medical school career paths,” said Dr. Hugh E. Mighty, dean of the Howard University College of Medicine. “Instead of carrying the burden of thousands of dollars in debt, they will now be able to focus on practicing their craft and fulfilling their purpose. For many students, less debt may create an opportunity to pick a specialty based more on interest and less on which specialties yield high incomes. This is truly a remarkable gift for each student and their entire families.”
Howard University College of Medicine will determine the eligibility of their students currently enrolled and receiving financial aid for scholarships up to $100,000 ($25,000 for each year of medical school from 2021 through the academic year that ends in 2024). Students currently in years two, three, and four of medical school will receive retro-active scholarships, meaning that they can receive up to $100,000 in support regardless of whether they are graduating in 2021 or 2023. With the goal of reducing debt load, the grants can be used for tuition and fees. Recent data suggests that this support will significantly reduce the debt burden of these medical students. The grant also includes “wrap around” services, such as financial counseling for students and resources to track the program’s success, for each school.
“This transformative gift is part of a continuing trend of increased giving to Howard University as aligned with our strategic plan to keep moving Howard Forward. The Bloomberg Philanthropies investment will allow Howard University to further its mission of training culturally competent physicians who will utilize their skills to make a profound impact in diverse communities all across the country. This gift positions our future caregivers to keep their eyes on the prize of completing school so they can help solve the health disparity issues that currently plague our society,” said David. P. Bennett, vice president of Development and Alumni Relations.
This is the first investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, born out of a commitment Mike Bloomberg made earlier this year during his campaign for U.S. President to help accelerate the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and to address decades of underinvestment in Black communities nationwide. Bloomberg Philanthropies will partner with leaders and organizations across the country to implement, scale, and advocate for efforts that increase economic and social mobility -- and ultimately create intergenerational wealth for Black people in America.
As a business owner, mayor, and philanthropist, Mike Bloomberg has a long-standing commitment to reducing health disparities, addressing the most complex public health crises, and improving access to quality K-12 and higher education for lower income students.