Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced a new financial gift in support of four historically Black medical schools to increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S.
The money will significantly reduce the debt burden of approximately 800 medical students, many of whom face increased financial pressure due to COVID-19.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies gift is the largest-ever received by Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Currently in the U.S. only five percent of practicing physicians are Black, while 13 percent of the U.S. population is Black, and data shows that Black patients have better outcomes with Black doctors because they are more likely to follow their directions.
The medical school grants will allow officials to provide scholarships up to $100,000 to nearly every medical student currently enrolled and receiving financial aid over the next four years.
“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. “More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved and fewer health problems that limit economic opportunity in Black communities.
“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.”
Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science will each determine the eligibility of their students currently enrolled. In 2020, over 50 percent of all students enrolled at these four schools should benefit from this gift. The grant, unveiled on September 3, also includes “wrap around” services, such as financial counseling for students.
“Meharry graduates overwhelmingly choose to go into primary care so they can make the largest impact on the most people,” said Dr. James Hildreth, President and CEO of Meharry Medical College. “But primary care, particularly in rural areas, does not provide the same level of financial security as other medical specialties.”
“This transformative gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies will significantly ease the burden of debt for our students, allowing them to make the decision of what and where they practice based on passion, not a paycheck.”