The donation is also an effort to boost the health and wealth of these communities, The New York Times reports, with Bloomberg set to give $100 million in scholarships to four institutions—Charles R. Drew University of Science and Medicine, in Los Angeles; Howard University College of Medicine, in Washington; Meharry Medical College, in Nashville; and Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta—over the next four years.
“By increasing the number of Black doctors, we hope the gift will help to save more Black lives and reduce the health problems that limit economic opportunity in Black communities,” Mr. Bloomberg told The Times.
Bloomberg’s aim is to lessen the financial burden of medical school for about 800 students, who will each be granted up to $100,000. The pledge is the first major donation from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ new Greenwood Initiative, a racial justice program that he launched towards the end of his presidential campaign. The $100 million endowment is one of the biggest by a single donor to HBCUs.
With the money, Bloomberg’s larger goal is to expand the number of Black doctors in America, citing statistics which show that Black doctors improve health outcomes for Black patients and are more prone to working in marginalized communities. This became a more pressing matter during the pandemic.
In an op-ed on CNN, the former New York City mayor called the number of Black deaths from coronavirus “staggering,” and pointed to a National Urban League report that cited that Black people are nearly three times more likely than white people to contract the virus, and twice as likely to die from it.
Bloomberg’s team began hashing out the plan about a month ago, when they began discussions with college and university officials about how to grow Black communities’ wealth, according to Dr. Wayne Frederick, the president of Howard University. Rather than proposing solutions, he said Bloomberg’s team asked how they could help and were quicker to donate than other philanthropists.
School officials hope Bloomberg’s generosity will inspire other donors to follow suit. Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, the president of Meharry, said that HBCU medical school alumni generally don’t have the chance to secure the same type of wealth that their white peers do, which limits how much they can donate to their alma maters.