Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $100 Million to Help Increase Number of Black Doctors in the U.S.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $100 Million to Help Increase Number of Black Doctors in the U.S.

NEW YORK, NY – Mike Bloomberg today announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies will support the nation’s four historically Black medical schools with $100 million to help increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S. by significantly reducing the debt burden of approximately 800 medical students, many of whom face increased financial pressure due to COVID-19. This is the largest-ever individual philanthropic gift received by Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Currently in the U.S. only five percent of practicing physicians are Black yet data proves that Black patients — who are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans — have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors. More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved in America as well as a reduction of the health issues that end up suppressing economic opportunity in Black communities. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ grant to the medical schools will allow them to provide scholarships up to $100,000 to nearly every medical student currently enrolled and receiving financial aid over the next four years. This is the first investment of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, a new effort to increase generational wealth among Black families and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities.

Across the country, Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to die at nearly every stage of life. Most recently, the Black community has suffered the highest death rate from COVID-19. Black people are almost three times more likely than white people to contract the virus, and twice as likely to die from it. Experts cite a variety of factors contributing to this inequity, including pre-existing conditions and lack of access to trusted healthcare providers.

Black patients overall have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors. But only five percent of practicing physicians are Black, while Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population. Although Black doctors are more likely to serve minority patients, and in medically-underserved areas, the devastating economic impact of the current pandemic threatens to worsen existing disparities potentially preventing current Black medical students with financial need from completing their degrees or by forcing Black medical school graduates to pick specialities that offer higher pay in the interest of paying off their medical school debt. Ultimately, the pandemic could both slow the placement of Black doctors in communities with the most need and significantly limit the ability of historically Black medical schools (HBMSs) — which have produced as many Black medical school graduates over the last 10 years as the top 10 non-HBMSs with the highest number of Black graduates — to meet increased demand for financial assistance.

With this strategic investment, Bloomberg Philanthropies strives to reduce health and wealth disparities in Black communities by improving health outcomes for Black Americans and accelerating the Black community’s ability to create generational wealth...