Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable arm of former presidential contender Michael Bloomberg’s empire, on Thursday pledged $100 million in scholarships to four of America’s historically Black medical schools over the next four years, with the move triggered in part by the devastating impact Covid-19 is having in the Black community.
In an op-ed on CNN.com Thursday, under the headline “To save Black lives, we need more Black doctors,” the former New York City mayor called the number of Black deaths from Covid-19 “staggering” and cited a National Urban League report showing that Black people are nearly three times more likely than white people to contract the virus, and twice as likely to die from it.
Asserting that there are “too few Black doctors,” the op-ed cited a recent study from George Mason University that found Black newborns treated by Black physicians had higher rates of survival; Bloomberg also noted that Black doctors are more likely to practice in communities where the lack of access to quality care — including preventative care — is a crucial issue.
Black health care needs have become especially acute during the pandemic when historical patterns of poor access to care collided with environmental factors like Black people living in denser areas, where the virus can more easily spread, and having more “essential,” customer-facing jobs; even the U.S. Surgeon General, who is Black, has spoken out about the disproportionate impact in Black and brown communities.
The $100 million will provide up to $100,000 to “nearly every medical student currently enrolled and receiving financial aid” at the schools.
$34.31 million: That’s how much Meherry Medical College will receive, slightly higher than the $31.62 million for Howard University College of Medicine; Morehouse School of Medicine will receive $26.35 million and Charles R. Drew University was granted $7.73 million. Forbes listed Bloomberg’s net worth, as of Thursday, as $54.9 billion.
Meharry Medical College President and CEO Dr. James E.K. Hildreth noted the Black students often chose to go into primary care but can be dissuaded because that can pay less than other specialties — a big concern if the student is saddled with debt. “This transformative gift will significantly ease the burden of debt for our students, allowing them to make decisions about where and how they practice based on their passion, not a paycheck,” he said.
Thursday’s announcement is the first investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, named for Greenwood, Oklahoma – a Black area of Tulsa once known as Black Wall Street, and the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race massacre in which hundreds of Blacks were killed by a white mob. Earlier this year, facing scrutiny over his mayoral record on stop-and-frisk during his brief campaign for U.S. president, Bloomberg announced a plan to help accelerate the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and to address decades of under-investment in Black communities nationwide. Bloomberg Philanthropies says it 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 more inter-generational wealth for Black people in America.
Opinion: To save Black lives, we need more Black doctors (CNN)
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