Blog

The Power of a Penny: Building Knowledge to Invest in What Works in Education

According to a new report by Bloomberg Philanthropies partner, Results for America, by shifting just 1% of federal education funds to review what aspect of education programs have an impact – education funding could be much better informed and driven by evidence of what actually works.

VIDEO: Verna Eggleston Explains the Story behind our Women’s Economic Development Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa

As part of our work to provide vocational training to women in Sub-Saharan Africa to help them earn income and improve their lives, Bloomberg Philanthropies trains female farmers in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to harvest and export high quality coffee from crop to cup and shows them how to benefit directly from coffee sales. Verna Eggleston of Bloomberg Philanthropies tells the inspiring story of how and why we’re investing in women’s economic development in Africa and partners explain how coffee fits into the picture.

Why We Need to Raise Tobacco Taxes

By Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director, Prevention of non-communicable diseases, World Health Organization

For a long time, the tobacco industry has fiercely opposed levies on tobacco products and launched intense campaigns against efforts to raise tobacco taxes, making the fight to curb tobacco use challenging. The reality is that raising taxes on tobacco products is the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, generate revenue for health programs and most importantly, save lives. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) is putting tobacco taxes back on the agenda for World No Tobacco Day 2014.

5 Ways The Met is Using Technology

By Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Most people don’t associate museums with technology beyond audio guides – which were cutting-edge visitor experiences at one time – but that’s quickly changing. The Digital Engagement Initiative at Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting cultural institutions like the Met Museum to use all kinds of digital, mobile and social media to connect with our audiences and enhance their experiences.

At the Met, I have the privilege of working with a wonderful team of technologists and art experts on ways we can increase access to our collection for everyone including those who visit our galleries in New York to online art enthusiasts around the world. It’s a revolutionary moment for us as we explore new ways to engage our audience through technology – even the audio guide has evolved into a multimedia device – and with the advent of smartphones, we are ramping up our efforts to transform how visitors learn about and interact with art through a mobile experience.

Here are five examples – among many others – of technology in action at the Met:

Q&A with Esther Mukundane of Sustainable Harvest Rwanda: Creating opportunity for female coffee farmers in Rwanda

Sustainable Harvest is the pioneer of the Relationship Coffee Model, a system of sourcing that stresses quality, transparency, and sustainability throughout the supply chain. Through a three-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Sustainable Harvest recently launched a nonprofit entity, the Relationship Coffee Institute, which will create economic opportunities for women in the Rwandan coffee trade.

As part of the launch of the Relationship Coffee Institute, Sustainable Harvest held a regional version of its Let’s Talk Coffee event. Bringing together 80 female coffee farmers from rural areas, Let’s Talk Coffee Rwanda offered trainings both on the entire coffee value chain and on mushroom and honey production. The event also brought together roasters, retailers, NGOs, and senior government officials to discuss challenges and strengthen opportunities for smallholder farmers to make connections in the value chain.

In this Q&A, Bloomberg Philanthropies asked Esther Mukundane, country director of Sustainable Harvest Rwanda, about her experience at Let’s Talk Coffee, what surprised her the most about the event, and how everyone can support the initiative:

Mike Bloomberg’s Annual Letter on Philanthropy

This year begins a new stage for Bloomberg Philanthropies – and for me personally. Over the past twenty years, I have grown increasingly active in philanthropy – and increasingly convinced of its power to save lives and change the world for the better. When I left City Hall on December 31, 2013, after having had the honor of serving New Yorkers for 12 years, I began having more time to spend on national and global issues. The same is true for Patti Harris, who served as my First Deputy Mayor and is also CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Now, both of us are excited by the opportunity to substantially expand the work of Bloomberg Philanthropies and our involvement in it.

Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated staff and our diverse and driven partners, Bloomberg Philanthropies has already established itself as a force for policy innovation and global collaboration. In fact, this month we were named the world’s second most innovative organization, behind only Google, by Fast Company. That honor is a reflection of groundbreaking work that is happening in each of our different program areas.

New U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco’s Harmful Effects Shows that Progress Is Possible, but More Work Remains

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

Fifty years ago the U.S. Surgeon General released a landmark report that linked smoking to cancer and fundamentally changed public attitudes around tobacco. Since then, considerable progress has been made in the United States – smoking rates have been cut in half since the 1964 report was released. Strong policies have banned smoking from many public spaces and prohibit tobacco advertising in many media outlets. And taxes on cigarettes have been increased federally by many states and localities.

To commemorate the report’s anniversary, the U.S. Surgeon General released an updated report on the tobacco epidemic. The new study notes declines in U.S. smoking prevalence, and that’s good news, but the report also indicates that much more work is still needed to end the deadly tobacco epidemic.

A Record Setting Year for Clean Energy and Decline of U.S. Reliance on Coal

Reducing America’s reliance on energy from coal and moving towards cleaner, alternative energy sources is central to the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ environmental work. By partnering with the Sierra Club to launch the Beyond Coal campaign, our support is helping to move the U.S. off of coal by 2020. Today, the Sierra Club today announced the following major news:

2013 was a momentous year for clean energy, as solar and wind generation hit record highs, prices plummeted, and wind and solar took on increased market share from coal. Installation of renewable energy capacity outpaced coal, oil, and nuclear growth combined. The coal industry saw numerous setbacks, and nationwide thirty percent of existing coal plants in the United States are now announced to retire — 158 plants, representing over 20% of the nation’s coal power. Not a single coal plant has broken ground over the past three years.

Sustainable Transportation Benefits Both Public Health and the Environment

By the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

Sustainable urban transportation is one of the primary focus areas for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program. Getting people out of private vehicles and into public transportation is important for reducing the injuries, deaths and diseases associated with traffic crashes, carbon emissions, and physical inactivity. To promote safer urban transport, Bloomberg Philanthropies partners with EMBARQ, a top sustainable urban transportation organization and a program of the World Resources Institute. EMBARQ advises both government officials and the private sector on transportation and urban development. Bloomberg Philanthropies supports their work in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Turkey, helping to ensure that sustainable transport initiatives, such as citywide bike lanes and Bus Rapid Transit systems, are as safe as possible.

Colorado Proposal Would Lead the Nation with New Clean Air Rules

By Mark Brownstein, Associate Vice President & Chief Counsel of Environmental Defense Fund’s US Climate and Energy Program

Colorado is in the midst of an oil and gas boom brought about by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Proponents of this new development cite economic and environmental benefits, and there’s certainly something to the argument that new natural gas is helping to drive dirty old coal out of Colorado’s energy mix – and the nation’s.

But whatever the benefits may be, there is another side to the story. There is no escaping the fact that oil and gas development is a heavy industrial activity that poses significant risks to public health and the environment. While much can be done by both government and producers to minimize these risks, there are too many communities where intensive oil and gas drilling is taking place where citizens feel like nothing is being done and no one cares. This is precisely why the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with support from funders such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, is fighting for stricter rules and tougher enforcement.

Mike Bloomberg’s Groundbreaking Use of Public-Private Partnerships

During the Bloomberg Administration, New York City expanded the scope and purpose of private sector collaborations, and improved their effectiveness and management structure, according to a report released today by Freedman Consulting, LLC and Bloomberg Philanthropies at the inaugural Robin Hood Investors Conference in New York City. A dozen non-profit organizations working directly with New York City agencies have raised more than $1.4 billion in philanthropic contributions collectively since 2002.

Hard-Hitting Road Safety Campaigns Help Save Lives

By Elena Altieri, Communications Officer, World Health Organization Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, motorists cited protection from rain, dust, and even being seen transporting a woman other than one’s wife as benefits of wearing a helmet when driving their motorcycle. A few mentioned escaping fines. Sadly, no one mentioned safety. The fact is: wearing a helmet can decrease the risk of injury by 70% and death by 40%.

One pillar of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program is the development of evidence-based mass media campaigns designed to change attitudes and behavior towards road safety. Developed after extensive research and testing with target audiences, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program has produced and implemented 19 campaigns, totaling 33 television commercials and 17 radio spots, across 10 countries. In Brazil, Cambodia and Mexico, these hard-hitting campaigns were the first ever public campaigns to show realistic and graphic consequences, including injury and death.

World Polio Day

By Tenley E. Albright, MD, Director of MIT Collaborative Initiatives

There is much to celebrate today in the global fight against polio. But our job is not yet complete.

In the 1950s, 33,000 or more Americans were crippled or killed by polio every year. The last known case in the U.S. was in 1979. When I had polio as a child, there was no cure, no treatment – no one even knew what caused it or how it spread – and certainly there were no vaccines.

Coal on the Decline: 150 Plant Closures and Counting

By Michael R. Bloomberg

The Sierra Club, Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners have reached a big milestone in our campaign to move the United States beyond coal. With the announced retirement of the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, 150 coal plants, or more than 60,000 megawatts, have either already closed or are on schedule to close. During the last two years, action by hundreds of individual communities, in partnership with the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies, has led us to this key marker—one plant at a time. Coal is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 40 percent of total U.S. emissions. Retiring much of our existing coal fleet is our best opportunity to lower carbon pollution in the United States. Already, this shift away from coal has helped drive 2012 carbon dioxide emissions in the United States to their lowest level in two decades.

Mike Bloomberg Urges Obama Administration to Avoid a "Colossal Public Health Mistake"

In today’s New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg wrote about his disappointment in the Obama Administration’s decision to weaken tobacco control protections in the latest draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently being negotiated by the President’s team and 11 other Pacific nations. He wrote, in part:

“[T]the Obama administration appears to be on the verge of bowing to pressure from a powerful special-interest group, the tobacco industry, in a move that would be a colossal public health mistake and potentially contribute to the deaths of tens of millions of people around the world.”

Read the entire piece on The New York Times website.

Would You Smoke These?

By Sarah England, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

If your answer is “no,” you’re not alone. Research shows shocking images that provoke an emotional response are the most effective at motivating smokers to quit. That’s why Bloomberg Philanthropies and our partners work so hard to push governments to make them mandatory on every tobacco product—especially in countries where smoking rates are highest.

As a result of our efforts and those of countless health advocates, Vietnam and Russia (home to 15 and 60 million adult smokers) recently began enforcing regulations that mandate vivid depictions of the negative effects of tobacco on cigarette packs sold throughout those countries.

Supporting Uruguay in their Fight Against Big Tobacco

By Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

This week, Mike Bloomberg met with Uruguayan Deputy Secretary Canepa, who along with President Mujica and his government are fighting a meritless lawsuit from tobacco giant Philip Morris as a result of the country’s strong anti-tobacco laws. Mike Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies and our partners stand strongly with the Uruguayan government, and are aiding their legal efforts.

By the Numbers: New Study Shows Success of Anti-Tobacco Policies

By Jennifer Ellis, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

As Mike Bloomberg often says, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That’s why I am excited to make public the results of a new study that shows more than 7 million lives have been saved around the world as a result of tobacco control policy progress—and many more lives stand to be saved if we continue to pursue proven tobacco control policies.

The study was conducted by experts at Georgetown University, along with Bloomberg Philanthropies, and is the first to estimate the lives saved as a result of tobacco control policy progress.

The adoption and implementation of evidence-based policies to reduce tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries is the primary goal of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. With this study, we now have concrete evidence of the success of the MPOWER tobacco control measures as well as the headway the global tobacco control movement made in just three years (2007-2010).

Transforming the Museum Experience through Mobile Technology

By Anita Contini, Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts Team

Visiting a museum and seeing incredible art in person can be a transformative experience. But museum-goers have traditionally faced two barriers to making the most of their museum visits: the challenges of navigating collections and accessing information about its works. Many museums have made significant efforts to address these challenges, including offering curator-led tours and traditional audio guides along with interactive kiosks that facilitate self-guided walkthroughs.

Bangladesh Enacts New Anti-Tobacco Rules

By Ishrat Chowdhury, Technical Advisor, The Union South-East Asia Office, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

After years of effort on the part of NGOs and Bangladesh’s anti-tobacco community, the country’s national parliament recently passed new tobacco control legislation that will help curb tobacco use by addressing several loopholes contained in previous regulations that did not go far enough to protect citizens from the harms of tobacco.

Volunteering to Tackle Nashville’s Needs

By Mayor Karl Dean, Nashville

Tennessee has long been known as the “volunteer state,” a moniker that Nashville residents are proud of.

The city of Nashville experienced a historic flood in 2010 – the fourth-largest non-hurricane disaster in U.S. history. More than 10,000 private properties were affected, and the city suffered over $2.1 billion in damages. To meet this unprecedented challenge, we leveraged all resources available to us – including the willingness of our fellow citizens to lend their time and talents to rebuild and revitalize our community. The flood may have brought challenges, but it also brought opportunities. It brought our city together.

Nashville’s ability to respond and recover was aided, in large part, by a culture of service that we had adopted through our involvement in Cities of Service and our city’s own Impact Nashville.

Marking World No Tobacco Day in Vietnam

By Kelly Henning, Public Health Team

Today is World No Tobacco Day, a day that highlights the importance of reducing tobacco use across the globe. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ representatives spent the run up to this important landmark in Vietnam, which recently brought into force a new tobacco control law.

Getting Past the Innovation One-off

By James Anderson, Government Innovation Team

In pulling together this week’s Mayors Innovation Summit, Philadelphia Mayor and U.S. Conference of Mayors President Michael Nutter is responding to exploding interest from city leaders to create a radically new kind of local government: one that’s consistently good at embracing new ideas.

Make Walking Safe, A Message for Global Road Safety Week (May 6-12)

By Dr Etienne Krug, Director, Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability World Health Organization

We are all pedestrians: on any given day we begin and end most trips on foot. Those trips should be safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. As shown in the recently released WHO Global status report on road safety 2013, more than 270,000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads each year, comprising 22% of all the annual 1.24 million road traffic deaths.

#springsocial

By Anita Contini, Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts Team

We have a full house today at Bloomberg Philanthropies, as we welcome our arts organization grantees for #springsocial—a full day of presentations and discussions that will provide grantees deep insight into the world of social media.

Vietnam Takes Major Step to Reduce Tobacco Use

By Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

Vietnam is home to more than 15 million adult smokers—a staggering one-sixth of the country’s total population. But yesterday, a new law went into effect that will reduce that number, saving lives and reducing Vietnam’s healthcare burden through proven tobacco use reduction strategies.

Welcome to the new bloomberg.org

Bloomberg Philanthropies has a new home on the web—and we couldn’t be more excited to share, for the first time in a comprehensive way, our unique approach to philanthropy and the stories of change we’re facilitating around the world.

Launched today, Bloomberg.org features information on our programs and partners across our focus areas. You’ll find everything from case studies that detail progress saving mothers’ lives in Tanzania, to ways you can get involved in the fight against dirty coal. If you’re learning about Bloomberg Philanthropies for the first time, check out the About Us section, which includes information on our founder, Mike Bloomberg, our mission, our approach to philanthropy, and our incredible partners.