Mike Bloomberg has a distinct approach to philanthropy that comes from his rare experience of running both a major city government and a multi-billion dollar company, which he built from the ground up. His passion for philanthropy — as a way to improve lives and catalyze societal change — grew out of the values he learned from his parents and from his experience as an Eagle Scout.
Mike Bloomberg’s first charitable donation was a $5 check to his college’s alumni association, given immediately after graduation. While it was all he could afford, he felt it was important to give back. The checks may be bigger today, but they come with that same spirit – you give what you can – that he has carried with him throughout his life.
Mike Bloomberg began his career in 1966 at Salomon Brothers, after graduating from Harvard Business School and Johns Hopkins University. After being let go from the firm in 1981, he began Bloomberg L.P., an information technology start-up that is now a multi-billion dollar global data and media company that connects influential decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people, and ideas. Bloomberg L.P.’s great strength – quickly and accurately delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology – is at the core of everything the company does. With more than 15,000 employees in nearly 200 offices, it delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.
The success of Bloomberg L.P. has provided Mike Bloomberg with the resources and experience to pursue philanthropy in a more meaningful way than he ever could have imagined when he wrote that first $5 check. Mike Bloomberg has often said: “The thing about great wealth is that you can’t take it with you.” That’s why he plans to give his away. He created Bloomberg Philanthropies to encompass all of his charitable giving activities, including his personal giving and the Bloomberg Family Foundation. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ unique data-driven approach to global change grows out of his experience as an entrepreneur and a champion of innovation.
In addition to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ five areas of focus – public health, arts and culture, the environment, education and government innovation – Mike Bloomberg has continued to support projects of great importance to him, including his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, where he served as the chairman of the board of trustees from 1996-2001. To date, he has contributed more than $1 billion to Johns Hopkins. The university’s School of Hygiene and Public Health – the largest public health facility in the U.S. – is now the Bloomberg School of Public Health in recognition of Mike Bloomberg’s commitment and support. Mike Bloomberg also leads a number of bi-partisan coalitions that are taking action on urgent national and international issues, and in 2014 was appointed to be the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.
To date, Mike Bloomberg has donated $4.3 billion to a wide variety of causes and organizations. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $510 million.
In 2001, Mike Bloomberg was elected the 108th Mayor of the City of New York, and he was re-elected in 2005 and 2009. While in office, he cut crime by more than 30 percent and created jobs by attracting new investment and supporting small business growth. He implemented ambitious public health strategies, including a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. Through these efforts, the Mayor helped increase the average life expectancy of residents in New York City by 3 years. His education reforms drove graduation rates up more than 40 percent. The Mayor’s economic policies helped New York avoid the level of job losses that many other cities experienced during the national recession.
Mike Bloomberg also leads a number of national and international coalitions of cities that are taking action on some of the most pressing issues facing our world today. In 2010, he was elected Chair of the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a network of the world’s largest cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions locally in order to address climate change globally. Under his leadership, C40 adopted a new emphasis on accountability by collecting and using data to set clear goals and drive real outcomes. He is currently President of the C40 Board of Directors. As Mayor, Mike Bloomberg also co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national bi-partisan coalition that has grown to more than 800 mayors committed to advancing common-sense policies that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people.