Bloomberg Philanthropies: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Bloomberg Philanthropies was started by Michael Bloomberg, the founder of media and financial company Bloomberg LP, former New York City mayor, and one of the richest men in the world. Its giving focuses on five key areas: public health, environment, education, government innovation, and arts & culture. Bloomberg's education program focuses on education reform advocacy, leadership building, and increasing low-income high school students' chances of getting into top-tier colleges.

IP TAKE: In addition to its education focus, much of Bloomberg's higher ed giving goes to universities whose work directly ties to one of its other giving priorities. Grants are by invitation only, but Bloomberg wants to learn about new projects and ideas, so it’s worth taking the time to reach out.

PROFILE: Bloomberg Philanthropies was started by Michael Bloomberg, the founder of media and financial company Bloomberg LP, former New York City mayor, and one of the richest men in the world. Bloomberg earned degrees from Harvard Business School and Johns Hopkins University, and his foundation “focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: public health, environment, education, government innovation, and arts & culture.”

The foundation outlays six key characteristics of its overall giving strategy. These include meeting controversial issues head-on, scaling successful work, data usage for both finding opportunities and measuring results, policy advocacy in furtherance of its goals, public-private partnerships, and a focus on cities as the harbingers of change. The Education program breaks down into three key areas: policy advocacy for education reform at all levels; “Leadership and Measurement Tools,” which consists of a partnership with the nonprofit America Achieves “to establish a series of fellowship programs for educational leaders at all levels to convene, collaborate, and share best practices for advancing student achievement” as well as an assessment test to compare U.S. students’ progress against those in schools around the world; and CollegePoint, an initiative to get more low-income students into and successful in top-tier colleges and universities.

Higher ed institutions have received support for work in education itself as well as for research, courses, and initiatives connected to Bloomberg’s other funding areas. In the “government innovation” arena, for example, New York University recently received a grant of more than $850,000 to support an urban planning course at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Public Policy. Along similar lines, the Philanthropies also support “arts & culture” in part through giving to the University of Maryland’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management, which “provides training, consultation, and implementation support for arts managers and their boards.”

The foundation is also a major supporter of Bloomberg’s alma maters of Harvard and Johns Hopkins. At the former, Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab, which “conducts research on how governments can improve the results they achieve for their citizens,” including by “providing pro bono technical assistance to state and local governments.” At Johns Hopkins, meanwhile, there is the Bloomberg School of Public Health, which added its benefactor’s name in 2001 for “his financial support and commitment to the field of public health.”

Even before they get to university age, Bloomberg has also shown dedication to ensuring that students are prepared for college and ready to succeed during their time there. Through its work on CollegePoint, Bloomberg supports “high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students” in collaboration with partners like College Possible, the College Advising Corps, and Strive for College. You can read more on Bloomberg’s work in this area in this IP article.

Bloomberg Philanthropies awards grants by invitation only, but has an expressed interest in learning about new projects and ideas. One way to get your foot in the door is by contacting them here.

PEOPLE:

  • Howard Wolfson, Program Lead, Education

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