Bloomberg Awards Meharry Medical College $34 Million for Student Debt, Largest Gift in College’s History

Members of the student-run, faculty-supervised medical and dental staff at the Meharry 12 South Community Clinic, left to right: Christianna Potter, Christine Gennosa, Joel Alvarez, Rosetta Krukrubo, Jason Deakings, Kendria Kelly-Taylor, Devin Rickard, Nichelle Harrison, Frederick Grady and Oyin Ajewole

Nashville, Tennessee–Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded $34 million to Meharry Medical College to help increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S. by significantly reducing their debt burden. Over the next four years, the historic gift will provide scholarships for medical students with financial need, many of whom have faced increased financial pressures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Meharry Medical College community learned of the gift this morning during a virtual announcement hosted by college President and CEO Dr. James E.K. Hildreth that included a video presentation by Mayor Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Current Meharry School of Medicine students with financial need could be eligible for scholarships of up to $100,000 over four years under the gift. The grant also covers “wrap around” services, such as financial counseling for students and resources to track the program’s success.

“This is a momentous day for Meharry Medical College, our students and the people we serve,” said Hildreth. “We could not be more honored to receive this gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies or more excited about what it means for the future of minority health care for generations to come.”

“Graduates of Meharry overwhelmingly choose to go into primary care so that they can make the largest impact on their communities,” Hildreth continued. “But primary care, particularly in rural areas, does not provide the same level of financial security as other medical specialties. This transformative gift will significantly ease the burden of debt for our students, allowing them to make decisions about where and how they practice based on their passion, not a paycheck.”

Since its founding nearly 150 years ago, Meharry Medical College has been dedicated to a mission of serving the underserved in Middle Tennessee, across the nation and world. The college’s commitment to service can be seen throughout its mission-focused curriculum, within its community outreach endeavors and by the work graduates go on to complete throughout their careers. Today, three out of four Meharrians return to urban or rural areas across the country to provide medical care to those most in need.

Meharry was one of four historically black medical schools to receive grants announced by Bloomberg Philanthropies totaling $100 million today. In addition to Meharry, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science were awarded grants that allow the schools to provide scholarships.

The grants are the first investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, a new effort to accelerate the pace of generational wealth accumulation for Black Americans and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities. The initiative was born out of a commitment Mayor Bloomberg made earlier this year during his campaign for U.S. President. Bloomberg Philanthropies will partner with leaders and organizations across the country to implement, scale and advocate for efforts that increase economic and social mobility—and ultimately create intergenerational wealth for Black people in America.

“COVID-19 has been especially devastating for the Black community, and the scarcity of Black doctors practicing in Black communities is one reason for it,” said Michael Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP. “More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved and fewer health problems that limit economic opportunity. But right now, the burden of student debt and lack of financial aid means that the shortage of Black doctors could get even worse. During my campaign for president, I proposed a set of bold policies — which we called the Greenwood Initiative — to increase generational wealth among Black families and shrink the racial wealth gap. The commitment Bloomberg Philanthropies is making today is just the first step we will take to bring that work to life.”