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Mike Bloomberg Reflects on Unprecedented Year: If “we apply what we have learned during the pandemic… we’ll be able to build a safer, healthier, and stronger future for generations to come.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2020 Annual Report Details $1.6 Billion Global Investment in 810 Cities, 170 Countries Including New Efforts to Meet Urgent Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic

In the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2020 annual impact report, released today, founder Michael R. Bloomberg writes: “Many people have remarked that they’d like to forget that 2020 ever happened. But the fact is, there’s never been a year more important to remember — and learn from. We faced four historic crises in 2020: a new global health crisis, an accelerating climate crisis, an American political crisis four years in the making, and a long-simmering crisis of racial injustice that finally reached a breaking point. The end of the year did not end any of the crises…The calendar will not save us. We have to do it ourselves, and that has been the focus of our work at Bloomberg Philanthropies… The battle against COVID-19 has highlighted valuable lessons that we can apply to other major challenges facing our world… and here are five of the most important: Elect leaders who aren’t afraid to face the facts; Promote public-private partnerships; Empower local leaders; Follow the data; and Racial inequality kills.[Watch a video from Mike here]

In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies worked to improve the lives of millions of people in 810 cities and 170 countries, investing $1.6 billion around the world. Over his lifetime, Mike Bloomberg, Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies founder, World Health Organization Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, and 108th mayor of New York City, has so far given $11.1 billion to philanthropy.

In the report, Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patricia E. Harris writes, “The pandemic tested what we have always believed to be one of our core strengths: our flexibility and ability to move quickly as needs arise. Every one of our teams adapted their work in the span of days. Without walking away from all the vitally important work we had been doing before the virus struck, we expanded our ambitions — and, with them, we extended our partnerships, formed new ones, and doubled down on existing financial commitments… There is still so much uncertainty that lies ahead, but I have never been more certain of the urgency of our mission — saving and improving lives — and of our team’s commitment to fulfilling it.” [Watch a video from Patti here]

Beginning in early 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched global, national, and local response efforts focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19, mitigating its devastating economic and social harm, and saving lives. Bloomberg’s longstanding funding of public health measures around the world also put it in a unique position to bring best-in-class partners to the COVID-19 fight. It supported local government leaders on the front lines with little federal help, health care workers risking their lives, researchers developing treatments, international organizations protecting the most vulnerable, nonprofits suffering from the fallout, and the next generation of Black doctors in America who will work in the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg Philanthropies continued critical work across its five key program areas — The Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health — as well as its pro bono consulting arm for cities, Bloomberg Associates – and continually looked for ways to address the political, social justice, and climate crises that developed or worsened in this unique year. Closing coal plants, saving lives through tobacco control, and working to ensure college access and career and technical training to lower income students was not abandoned. [Watch a video of 20 achievements from 2020 here]

COVID-19 RESPONSE:

  • Mayors are the officials who residents turn to first for answers and for help. In the absence of a coordinated national strategy to defeat the pandemic, the role of local governments became even more important – while the information and resources they were receiving was scarce. The Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative launched on March 10th with long-trusted partners the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. The program provided more than 1,000 city leaders from 435 cities around the world with the information and training to understand, respond to, and manage the public health crisis, and to address social and economic recovery – and drew on resources developed with the National League of Cities and the United States Conference of Mayors. Regular weekly convenings featured speakers including Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, House Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Bill Gates, Susan Rice, Colin Powell, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and more.
  • The COVID-19 Global Response Initiative, launched with partners the World Health Organization and Resolve to Save Lives on March 17th with $40 million, provided 35 countries in Africa and other low- and middle-income countries around the world with rapid-response funds for governments to hire staff and buy equipment; train frontline health care workers on infection prevention and control; support governments’ risk communications and community engagement efforts; and more.
  • A $10.5 million investment launched the nation’s first and largest state-wide contact tracing program in New York, along with an online contract tracing curriculum built by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that is free to the entire world. More than one million people have taken the course, from 50 states and more than 150 countries, and local health departments in more than 35 U.S. states have made the course a requirement for contact tracers.
  • A $10 million contribution to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) supported their efforts to provide infection control training, new telemedicine services, and upgraded health facilities in the 40 countries where they’re working to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on refugee and migrant populations.
  • New York City social service and cultural nonprofits were hit hard by mid-March so Bloomberg Philanthropies quickly outlined plans for a fund that would rapidly distribute much-needed grants and loans. Convening the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, The New York Community Trust, and the Nonprofit Finance Fund, The NYC Response & Impact Fund launched on March 20th. Over the next five months, the fund distributed more than $110 million, providing a lifeline to nearly 800 NYC-based nonprofits.
  • Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to support the launch of two COVID-19 emergency response funds: the nearly £42 million London Community Response Fund and the £2.3 million Culture at Risk Business Support Fund.
  • The Partnership for Healthy Cities pivoted quickly to provide over $2 million in mini-grants to more than 50 cities, funding communications campaigns on hand washing and social distancing, the development of surveillance systems to track COVID-19 cases and related data, and surveys to understand public perceptions of COVID-19.
  • In late March, Bloomberg Philanthropies joined Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Johns Hopkins University with a $3 million contribution to fund research into the potential therapeutic uses of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
  • In mid-April, providing over $6 million to Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen allowed more than one million meals to be served to 30,000 healthcare workers at 16 public hospitals in New York City.
  • In September 2020, amid a pandemic in which Black people in the U.S. are nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched The Greenwood Initiative to help reduce wealth disparities in Black communities. A four-year, $100 million commitment to America’s four historically Black medical schools — Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; Meharry Medical College; Morehouse School of Medicine; and Howard University College of Medicine — will provide debt relief of up to $100,000 to approximately 800 students. This will help ensure that more students graduate and are able to pursue careers in the communities that need them most. More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved and fewer health problems that limit opportunity in Black communities.
  • The Bloomberg Philanthropies CollegePoint program – which provides virtual college advising to help low- and middle-income high school students successfully apply and transition to college – led more intensive summer advising to ensure students ultimately enrolled in and attended college in the fall, despite disruptions. Laptops and Internet hotspots were also supplied so students could connect with advisors and complete applications.
  • The Bloomberg Connects app provided a digital platform to help cultural institutions in the United States and United Kingdom provide safer and more engaging experiences for on-site visitors, while also helping deliver dynamic content to audiences at home.
  • As cities reclaimed outdoor spaces as safe, socially distanced places, the Asphalt Art Initiative empowered 16 U.S. cities to begin developing visual art projects on streets and public infrastructure to help make them safer and more vibrant.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation, and the JPB Foundation provided a $1.2 million grant to support The Fresh Air Fund’s Summer Spaces program which gave 26,000 children from low-income communities across the city safe, supervised, outdoor recreational activities. It also employed more than 200 young adults as activity specialists, coaches, and counselors.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support of the U.S. Beyond Coal campaign led to a faster decline in coal power during the past four years than under President Obama. And despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the final America’s Pledge report showed that non-federal leadership has kept the U.S. on a path of climate progress – in part, due to 50 high-impact building and transportation interventions supported by the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. Bloomberg’s support for campaigns to phase out coal expanded to South Korea and Japan, and partnerships to fight air pollution launched in Jakarta, Brussels, and London. Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped retire ​over 60% of coal plants in the U.S. in less than a decade, and nearly 50% in Europe since 2017.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested more than $1 billion in tobacco control over the past decade resulting in over 35 million lives saved. National and local governments have been encouraged to enact policies that are proven to reduce tobacco use and save lives, such as package warnings and taxes on tobacco products. This work now spans more than 110 countries. Today, 65 percent of the world’s population is protected by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure, up from 15 percent when the Bloomberg Initiative began in 2007. This work helped lead to the recent global health landmark: South America became the first multi-nation continent to have all of its citizens protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws, setting a powerful example for the entire world.
  • In 2020 Bloomberg Philanthropies committed an additional $250 million to encourage more governments around the world to enact policies that create healthier food environments. A new partnership with Georgetown University Law Center will train lawyers in global food policy; a new scholarship fund will support Ph.D. students in relevant disciplines at universities across the globe; a new legal defense fund will help governments defend strong food policy laws against challenges in court; and Bloomberg added the United States as a focus geography to address high rates of obesity.
  • Bloomberg Associates worked with Atlanta on the One Atlanta: Economic Mobility, Recovery, and Resiliency Plan focused on achieving better economic and social outcomes for Atlanta’s Black and brown communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment. The team also created a new master plan for parks which will ensure that all Atlantans have equitable access to Atlanta’s green spaces and recreational activities. In London, the Bloomberg Associates team created a plan to enhance services for homeless residents and provided London’s small businesses with one-on-one sessions with business advisors, city funding, and an online business portal.

As we move into a new year of challenges and hope, Mike Bloomberg writes, “I’ve always believed that there is far more that unites us than divides us. And despite all that we faced in 2020, I’m more optimistic than ever about our ability to work together to tackle the big challenges we face, including climate change. To succeed, it’s imperative that we apply what we have learned during the pandemic — and, if we do, we will be able to do more than leave the tragedy of 2020 behind us. We’ll be able to build a safer, healthier, and stronger future for generations to come.”

To view the full annual report — with interactive maps and podcast and video content about the foundation’s work in 2020 — please visit https://annualreport.bloomberg.org/.

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: The Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and TikTok. 

Media Contact:
Rachel Nagler, Bloomberg Philanthropies – racheln@bloomberg.org