NET WORTH: $55.7 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Innovative Market Systems, Bloomberg L.P.
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Education, Environment, Arts, Government Innovation
OVERVIEW: Michael Bloomberg ranks among the world’s most generous philanthropists, and has pledged to devote the entirety of his fortune to philanthropic causes. He has been a leader on a variety of issues, from climate change to tobacco, obesity, immigration, and education.
BACKGROUND: Michael Bloomberg attended Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School before going to work on Wall St. at Salomon Brothers. He was given a $10 million severance package when Salomon was bought by George Soros’ Travelers Group. He then founded Innovative Market Systems, which delivered high-quality business information for investors. This was the start of Bloomberg’s empire, which was eventually renamed Bloomberg L.P. In 2001, Bloomberg mounted a successful campaign for Mayor of New York City, where he has served 3 terms.
EDUCATION: Bloomberg’s largest donation to any single organization has been to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins, and comes in at over $1 billion. He has partnered with America Achieves to create a series of fellowship programs for educational leaders, and is a major player in affecting education policies, working with key players on Race to the Top and the development of the Common Core State Standards. He has also been instrumental in funding a program at 100 U.S. high schools to compare performance with other countries through the PISA test, which is the first real direct comparison of how the U.S. educational system is faring against other countries.
HEALTH: His primary philanthropic vehicle, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has a focus on public health, which centers on drowning prevention, maternal and reproductive health, road safety, obesity prevention, tobacco control, combatting opioids, health policy, and related data.
A significant portion of the $1 billion Bloomberg has given Johns Hopkins supports the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Past grantees also include $165 million to the World Lung Foundation, and $10 million to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, as well as $9.3 million in support of the Centers for Disease Control and $7.7 million to the World Health Organization, at least in part to support reducing tobacco use and fighting tobacco-related health problems. Bloomberg has also partnered with the Gates Foundation, pledging $16.2 million to health-related collaborations, and has invested roughly $12 billion in providing life-saving maternal health care in Tanzania.
ENVIRONMENT: Bloomberg’s foundation also funds several environmental concerns, primarily focused on climate change. In recent years, Bloomberg has increased efforts to fill the vacuum in climate change remediation left by the United States backing out of the Paris Agreement under Donald Trump. Bloomberg’s climate change investments center on create a climate coalition, positioned as the American Cities Climate Challenge, between “230 cities representing more than 70 million Americans” who seek to “continue to push America forward” in its climate change progress.
ARTS: Bloomberg’s Arts Advancement Initiative has committed $34 million so far to provide operating support to arts and cultural organizations in New York City. The program has made grants to nearly 250 small and medium sized theater, visual arts, music, film, literature, and dance organizations, and also offers organizational development and management programs. Working with the organizations to meet developmental milestones such as broadening their donor base, securing matching grants, board development, and social media and marketing development, the initiative emphasizes tracking performance using rigorous metrics. The initiative's title was recently changed to Arts Innovation and Management, and Bloomberg has doubled down, putting up another $30 million for the program over the next two years.
COMMUNITY BUILDING: Bloomberg has donated amounts ranging from roughly half a million to a million and a half to either major community foundations or the cities themselves in places like Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, New Orleans, and Memphis, including the $6.6 million for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. He has also contributed $5.4 million to Living Cities, helping to shape federal funding programs and redirect public and private resources, which helps communities build homes, stores, schools, community facilities and more, and has supported other organizations like Cities of Service.
LOOKING FORWARD: Despite promising to dedicate his life to philanthropy after leaving office, Bloomberg returned to the helm of Bloomberg LP. For now, then, a good portion of his time will be spent doing business. A gubernatorial or presidential run also might be down the line. Nonetheless, Bloomberg's philanthropy is still very active. Also look for more funding in alternative energy, and expansions to many of his existing programs.