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Michael Bloomberg is giving $ 100 million to help historically black medical school graduates repay their loans



The billionaire’s charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced the donation Thursday as part of the Bloomberg Greenwood Initiative, launched earlier this year to address economic justice issues that have plagued black Americans since the abolition of slavery.

The funds will be distributed to the College of Medicine at Howard University in Washington, the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The schools said they will use the donations to create scholarships of up to $ 100,000 for students currently enrolled and receiving financial assistance. Students who graduate in the spring are not eligible for financial assistance.

All schools involved except the Morehouse School of Medicine confirmed that Bloomberg̵

7;s donation is the greatest financial gift they have ever received.

Dr. Hugh Mighty, who serves as the dean of Howard University’s College of Medicine, said Thursday that Bloomberg’s donation is a “game changer” for black students who tend to move from undergrad to medical school with higher levels of debt to enter.

“By the time they graduate, medical students can have up to $ 218,000,” Mighty said. “You reduce that enormously.”

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 3, 2020.

Dr. James Hildreth, resident and executive director of Meharry Medical College, said Bloomberg’s gift will dramatically change lifelong earning potential for its black recipients, whose post-medical career options are often determined by the need to repay hundreds of thousands of student loan debt.

While the average white medical student comes from a household that makes $ 175,000 or more, the average black medical student comes from a family with a household income of $ 75,000 or less, according to Hildreth.

“There is a huge difference in the amount of support families can provide,” he added.

Research also shows that black patients have better overall health outcomes when treated by black doctors. A recent study found that black newborns treated by black doctors had higher survival rates. However, black doctors, especially black male doctors, are quite rare.
About 13% of the US population are black, but only 5% of practicing physicians are black, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately affected black Americans, is expected to exacerbate existing health and economic disparities in the black community.
“In higher education, nearly 70% of black college dropouts cite debt as a factor – and that was before the pandemic broke out,” wrote Bloomberg and four co-authors in a column on Thursday on the subject. “If we had more black doctors, we would save more black lives – and make progress in closing the racist wealth gap.”

Schools said they could distribute funds differently depending on how students enroll. Dr. David M. Carlisle, President and CEO of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, noted that only about 50% of the current 112 students at his school in Los Angeles are black. He estimated that approximately 45% of Drew U’s students are Latino, and noted that all currently enrolled students who receive funding will receive a portion of the Bloomberg funding.

Mighty said that only black students who receive financial aid from Howard are eligible for Bloomberg donations. “Our population is largely African-American,” noted Mighty. “There is a difference in the need and how you would analyze that need. We will make sure we match the donor’s intent.”


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