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Founder's ProjectsThe Greenwood Initiative

The Greenwood Initiative

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative is a bold philanthropic effort that seeks to accelerate the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities. This is the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies portfolio dedicated solely to advancing racial wealth equity. For generations, systemic racism has prevented Black people in America from exercising their full economic power. The major barriers that Black people faced — including housing, educational, and employment discrimination — hindered their ability to build wealth over time. The lasting effects of this pervasive racism are profound; today, the typical Black family has one-eighth of the wealth of the typical White family. Without bold intervention and a complete reimagination of Black wealth accumulation, this unacceptable status quo will continue to persist. 

As a 2020 presidential candidate, Mike presented a policy agenda to tackle this racial wealth disparity. He called the policy agenda the Greenwood Initiative in remembrance of the hundreds killed in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood during the 1921 race massacre there. The name also acknowledges how racism has prevented Black families from building wealth for centuries. When he ended his campaign, Mike decided he’d continue to pursue the aims of Greenwood through philanthropy and asked his team at Bloomberg Philanthropies to identify ways to make a difference. From there, the current iteration of the Greenwood Initiative was born.

The Greenwood Initiative makes innovative investments and fosters strategic partnerships to create the conditions for more Black people to acquire resources, expand community ownership, and increase influence through economic power. Over the past two years, the initiative has formed partnerships and made investments designed to have a far-reaching impact. 

Recent News

Using Data to Advance Racial Wealth Equity

In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative announced the creation of the Black Wealth Data Center (BWDC). It features a Racial Wealth Equity Database that aims to empower decision-makers with reliable data, become the go-to resource for racial wealth data, and raise the national standard for data collection and accessibility. The objective of the Black Wealth Data Center is to help practitioners and policymakers address racial wealth disparities by making relevant data available so they can develop and implement effective programs and policies to increase racial wealth equity.

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Fueling Diversity in STEM Fields

The Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative, a $150 million investment, was launched at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to address historic underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and prepare a new, more diverse generation of researchers and scholars to assume leadership roles in tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges. Named for Vivien Thomas, a renowned Black scientist who helped develop the Blalock-Taussig shunta cardiac surgery technique to treat blue baby syndromeat The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1940s, Bloomberg Philanthropies is endowing this effort to create additional pathways for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to pursue and receive PhDs in STEM fields. The second cohort of Vivien Thomas Scholars was announced in August 2023, growing the total number of scholars in the program to more than 30. This gift provides permanent funding for a sustained cohort of diverse PhD students in JHU’s more than 30 STEM programs.

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Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts to Ensure Equitable Access within Black Communities

In April 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced an investment of over $6 million in support of COVID-19 vaccine operations run by the nation’s four historically Black medical schoolsMeharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Sciencevia mobile vaccine services to ensure equitable access in their communities of Nashville, TN, Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA. With a clear disparity between white and Black vaccine rates across the United States, the schools’ mobile units reached the most at-risk populations and worked with trusted partners, such as churches and senior centers, to set up temporary vaccination sites.

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Marqui Barber at the CDU Mobile Vaccine Program during the Resource Fair at Nickerson Gardens Housing Residence in Los Angeles.

Providing Debt Reduction to Medical Students at America’s Four Historically Black Medical Schools

In September 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced The Greenwood Initiative’s first major investment, a historic $100 million gift to America’s four historically Black medical schools: Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, CA. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ gift to the medical schools will allow them to provide debt reduction up to $100,000 to approximately 950 medical students over a four year period.

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Student working in a medical school lab of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Supporting Local Leaders’ Efforts to Build Black Wealth

Through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support of the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s (CFE Fund) CityStart initiative, local governments are prioritizing the economic mobility of residents by creating blueprints that leverage policies, programs, and funding streams to help local families and communities become more financially stable, utilizing a racial equity lens. 

In April 2024, CFE Fund in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative announced that a new cohort of five local governments were selected to participate in the CityStart initiative: Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Little Rock, AR; and Philadelphia, PA. The initial cohort included Cincinnati, OH; Mobile, AL; and South Bend, IN; and the second cohort included Baltimore, MD; Cleveland, OH; Monroe, LA; Newark, NJ; Norfolk, VA; Rocky Mount, NC; Sacramento, CA; and Leon County/Tallahassee, FL.

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Investing in Child College Savings Accounts

In partnership with NYC Kids RISE (NYCKR), Brooklyn Community Foundation, the Gray Foundation, the Mayor’s Office of Equity, the NYC Department of Education, school leaders, families, and students, in December 2022 1,200 first graders in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and Canarsie, Brooklyn received $1,000 in their NYC Scholarship Accounts through a $1.2 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative and Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Donor-Advised Fund. 

These scholarship accounts are dedicated to increasing college and career savings — a key way to address the racial wealth divide in New York City neighborhoods where 86% of students are Black — the largest proportion of any geographic school district in New York City.

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Announcing 1,200 first graders in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and Canarsie, Brooklyn will receive $1,000 in their NYC Scholarship Accounts at P.S. 276

Top photo: Howard University College of Medicine student Micah Brown is one of the many future doctors who will have had their futures changed by a $100 million commitment to the United States’ four historically Black medical schools.