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Bloomberg’s Message to His Billionaire Buddies: Help Pay Tuitions for Neediest

November 19, 2018

I wholeheartedly disagree with Michael Bloomberg’s approach to public education and despair at how he “reformed” public schools in New York. I do, however, appreciate his can-do attitude. If he observes a problem, he attempts to fix it using his money and expertise for what he perceives as “good”. His money and expertise helped make NYC a livable city, albeit not an affordable one. In doing so, he unwittingly illustrated the pitfalls in expanding market theories to public schools, but he also exhibited a willingness to use government policy to tackle major problems like obesity, global warming, and fitness. In sum, he used his billions and his expertise to do the best he could to solve serious and protracted social problems: he exemplifies the best instincts of philanthropy.

Quartz recently described Mr. Bloomberg’s latest foray into solving a serious social problem, access to higher education for those who cannot afford college, by donating $1,800,000,000 to his alma mater Johns Hopkins. While others are debating the admissions policies (and politics) of entry to Harvard, Mr. Bloomberg is tackling the issue head on by making a donation to an equally prestigious school that will ensure that Johns Hopkins is “forever needs blind” in its admissions. Quartz concludes with this synopsis of Mr. Bloomberg’s approach to philanthropy:

Bloomberg’s message to other big donors is clear: In lieu of donating yet another fancy building with your name on it, tackle educational opportunities at the root, and liberate young Americans from the decades-long prison of student debt.

And if you must donate a piece of architecture, at least do it with a sense of humility. In 2016, Bloomberg, who grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, donated $50 million to the Boston Museum of Science, the museum’s largest-ever private donation. He chose the Museum of Science because besides his parents, he says the museum was the most profound influence on his life (he earned his bachelors degree in electrical engineering). The money is being used to support the museum’s education center. Its new name: The William and Charlotte Bloomberg Science Education Center, named in Bloomberg’s parents’ honor.

Here’s hoping Mr. Bloomberg’s billionaire boys club buddies heed his message.

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