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The Greenwood Initiative

In December 2018, Mike Bloomberg traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to announce that the city had won Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge. The winning proposal honored the neighborhood of Greenwood – once known as Black Wall Street, and the site of one of America’s worst tragedies: The 1921 Tulsa Race massacre. While there, he was moved by the story of how a predominantly Black neighborhood had become one of the country’s most prosperous communities – and was appalled and angered to know that its destruction at the hands of a racist mob had been whitewashed from history books.

In the spring of 2020, during his campaign for president of the United States, Mike announced an ambitious plan to accelerate the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and address decades of underinvestment in Black communities. In remembrance of the hundreds killed in Greenwood, and in recognition of how racism has prevented Black families from building wealth, he called the plan The Greenwood Initiative and returned to Tulsa to lay out its proposals in a speech.

We have since carried the plan’s objectives over to Bloomberg Philanthropies, where we’re supporting and working with partners and institutions that have a proven track record of increasing economic and social mobility to fulfill Greenwood’s mission of reducing wealth disparities in Black communities.

The initiative’s first major investment was an historic $100 million gift to America’s four historically Black medical schools which underscored the connection between Black health and wealth.

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Greenwood’s First Investment: $100 Million Gift to America’s Four Historically Black Medical Schools

On September 3, 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced The Greenwood Initiative’s first major investment, an 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 relief up to $100,000 to approximately 800 medical student who are currently enrolled and receiving financial aid over the next four years.

This is the largest-ever individual philanthropic gift received by these medical schools, and it helps to address the connection between Black health and wealth, the dearth of Black doctors in America, and the disproportionate financial burden Black medical students face.

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Easing the debt burden of medical students to help increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S.

Enabling students to choose what and where they practice medicine based on passion, not a paycheck

Chronic illness and poor health can impact an individual’s ability to work and build wealth. On average, Black Americans are more likely to die at every stage of life than white people – and that troubling trend has continued during this pandemic, with Black people suffering the highest death rates from COVID-19.

Due to a number of factors, Black patients overall have better health outcomes when they are treated by Black doctors. However, while the population of the United States is 13% Black – only 5% of all practicing medical doctors are Black. Black doctors are also more likely to treat minority patients and practice in medically underserved communities, which often lack access to quality care in comparison to predominantly white communities.

 

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.