Billionaire and former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has announced that his charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has pledged $100 million in scholarships to medical schools at four historically Black colleges and universities over the next four years.
The $100 million will provide up to $100,000 to “nearly every medical student currently enrolled and receiving financial aid” at Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Bloomberg, in an op-ed for CNN titled “To save Black lives, we need more Black doctors,” says inequitable health care is one reason COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on Black Americans.
“Black patients overall have better outcomes when they are treated by Black doctors. A wealth of data supports this, including a recent study that found Black newborns treated by Black physicians had higher rates of survival,” he writes.
“Currently, Black people make up about 13% of the US population but, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only 5% of practicing medical doctors. And while this disparity has been growing for years — especially among Black male doctors — the coronavirus threatens to make it far worse.”
Bloomberg is hoping to see a boost in the number of Black doctors as he addresses one of the biggest challenges of Black medical students — student debt. The four schools selected produced as many Black medical school graduates over the last 10 years as the top 10 non-Historically Black Medical Schools with the highest number of Black graduates, the op-ed said.
Bloomberg, who has given over $3.35 billion to his alma mater Johns Hopkins University, is not the only prominent businessman and billionaire supporting HBCUs.
This June, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, announced that they have given $120 million toward scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities. Spelman College, Morehouse College and the United Negro College Fund each received $40 million.
In 2019, the richest black American, Robert Smith, paid off the student debt of Morehouse’s graduating class. Just weeks after the announcement, the well-known philanthropist and private equity fund CEO showed his generosity again as he launched an internship program for ethnically underrepresented students.