Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced commitments totaling $100 million over four years in support of the nation's four historically Black medical schools.
With the goal of reducing the debt burden of about eight hundred African-American medical students, many of whom face increased financial pressure due to COVID-19, the foundation awarded $7.7 million to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, $32.8 million to Howard University College of Medicine, $34 million to Meharry Medical College, and $26.3 million to the Morehouse School of Medicine. The largest individual gifts ever to the four schools will be used to award scholarships of up to $100,000 over the next four years to nearly every medical student currently enrolled who is receiving financial aid.
While only 5 percent of physicians currently practicing in the United States are Black, data show that African Americans — who comprise 13 percent of the population and are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white Americans — have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors. Awarded through the foundation's Greenwood Initiative — named for the neighborhood that became the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre — the grants are part of a broader push by the foundation to address historic underinvestment in Black communities and help close the racial wealth gap.
"Healthcare disparities exist for a myriad of reasons related to systemic infrastructural issues, not the least of which is the dearth of Black doctors," said Howard University president Wayne A.I. Frederick. "Black doctors with cultural competency are a major part of the solution, but their path is often hampered by a compromised financial situation."
"Now, more than ever before, the world needs what we do best. At MSM, we believe that instilling cultural competence in our future physicians is a key part of closing the health equity gap," said Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine. "With the generosity of Bloomberg, we can increase our investment in the next generation of clinicians and researchers in ways that advance prosperity and increase the quality of life in communities thought to be out of reach. For us, it's about creating innovative strategies for science and health care that pave the bridge to a brighter future."
(Photo credit: Howard University College of Medicine)