Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has donated US$100 million (AU$137 million) to four historically Black medical schools, with each student receiving grants of up to US$100,00.
Bloomberg said in a Tweet that the aim of the donation is to increase the number of Black doctors in the US by “significantly reducing” the debt burden of approximately 800 medical students.
.@BloombergDotOrg is committing $100M to America’s four historically Black medical schools over the next four years to help increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S. by significantly reducing the debt burden of approximately 800 medical students. https://t.co/vQsqvrLSUX
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) September 3, 2020
In a statement on his philanthropic site, Bloomberg.org, the billionaire said this was the “largest-ever” individual philanthropic gift received by Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Each university will determine the eligibility of students currently enrolled and receiving financial aid for scholarships of up to US$100,000 (US$25,000 for each year of medical school from 2021 through to the academic year ending 2024).
The grant, which will be given to more than 50 per cent of all students enrolled at the schools, can be used to cover tuition and fees, depending on the school.
“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,” Bloomberg said.
“More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved and fewer health problems that limit economic opportunity. But right now, the burden of student debt and lack of financial aid means that the shortage of Black doctors could get even worse.”
Bloomberg revealed he was entering the 2020 US election race as a Democratic candidate in December last year, but pulled out in March this year after spending nearly US$24 million on his political campaign.
“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,” he said.
“The commitment Bloomberg Philanthropies is making today is just the first step we will take to bring that work to life.”
While some criticised the billionaire’s donation, which represents 0.2 per cent of his total net worth (US$55 billion), others said it was “life changing”.
There’s a bit of logical untruth to this because as a student this is a life changing moment to me. This donation is going to create a real impact in the world and hopefully encourage more to do the same.
— Chandler Steele (@dctrSteele) September 3, 2020
“This is what America needs desperately,” another said.
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