Morehouse medical students surprised with $100,000 each to pay off their student loans

ATLANTA — Morehouse School of Medicine has been awarded $26.3 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by entrepreneur and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The donation is part of a $100 million fund for students attending the nation’s four historically Black medical schools: Morehouse School of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine, Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College over the next four years.

Students at Morehouse School of Medicine enrolled in student aid programs will receive approximately $100,000 each to go toward student loan debt..

This is the largest scholarship investment ever received by Morehouse School of Medicine.

“This historic investment in the Morehouse School of Medicine will lift the crushing burden of student debt and empower our graduates to take on the systemic racial inequities and injustice that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Morehouse School of Medicine President and Dean Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD. “These dollars will help free up future doctors to immediately head to the front lines and save Black lives while also improving healthcare access, equity, and quality for everyone. We appreciate Mayor Bloomberg’s investment in health equity.”


“More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved, and fewer health problems that limit economic opportunity,” Bloomberg said. “During my campaign for President, I proposed a bold set of policies — which we called the Greenwood Initiative — to shrink the racial wealth gap. Today’s commitment by Bloomberg Philanthropies is just the first step we will take to bring that work to life.”

215 students currently in years two, three, and four of medical school will receive retroactive scholarships of roughly $25,000 per year through their graduations, with the current class of first-year students graduating in 2024.

Dr. Bennie Harris, the Senior Vice President of Development at the School of Medicine, said he hopes the donation helps students start their careers on the right foot. Harris said that with the pandemic and the racial disparities in medicine, Black doctors are now needed more than ever.

“So this means students (can be) making great decisions about their career, and not being saddled with all this debt,” Harris said. “You can really impact the community.”

On the Morehouse campus, students jumped for joy and cheered as they learned about the big donation.

Nikki Jones, a student at the medical school, said it was a moment of celebration on campus.

“That was incredible,” Jones said. “It was screaming. It was people saying thank you Jesus and praising God, and there was also the chat room that was just going crazy.”

Jones is a fourth year medical student and plans to become a pediatrician. She said the money will be a big help.

“It’s not just the cost of tuition and fees and just living while you’re in medical school, but it’s also the cost to get into medical school, paying for applications, flights to interviews...” Jones said.

Jones realizes how important it is for Black patients to have Black doctors.

“It’s really, simply put, on people to trust, and they feel comfortable with someone that looks like them,” Jones said. “Someone that they can relate to and someone who shares some of the same values as them and also the same experiences.”

This is the first investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, which is named for the Tulsa, Ok., community and historical site of “Black Wall Street” and the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. The Greenwood Initiative seeks to increase generational wealth among Black families and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities and institutions.