While working at Bloomberg L.P., Bloomberg donated much of his wealth to medical research, education and the arts. He also sat on the boards of numerous charitable organizations. Beginning in 2004, Bloomberg appeared on Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of top 50 Americans who had donated the most money that year. Between 2004 and 2011, Bloomberg was listed as a top 10 American philanthropist each year.
Since 2006, the headquarters has been located at Stuyvesant Fish House on East 78th Street in Manhattan.
Bloomberg Philanthropies directs its resources to five issue areas: the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has focused on combating climate change and moving toward clean energy sources. In 2011, the foundation partnered with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign by donating $50 million toward shutting down coal-fired power plants. On April 8, 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies increased its support of the Beyond Coal campaign with a $30 million pledge, in order to accelerate the goal of closing and replacing half of all U.S. coal power plants with clean energy by 2017. Bloomberg Philanthropies also partners with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, where Bloomberg is the former chairman, to curb carbon emissions in major cities around the world. In 2012, Bloomberg Philanthropies made a $6 million donation to the Environmental Defense Fund to help secure strong state-level regulations for hydraulic fracturing. Bloomberg has stated his support for "responsible" fracking as an alternative to coal power. In January 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies committed $53 million to Vibrant Oceans Initiative over the course of five years to help reform fisheries and increase sustainable populations. In April 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invested $5 million in Little Sun, a solar-powered lamp company founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and entrepreneur Frederik Ottesen.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has focused on reducing tobacco use through the MPOWER tobacco control strategy, making roads safer and eradicating polio, among other public health initiatives. In March 2012, the foundation donated $220 million to fight tobacco use over a four-year period. In total, the organization has pledged to donate $600 million to curb tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries. In 2009, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with the World Health Organization to donate $125 million to reduce traffic-related fatalities, and in 2014, it committed an additional $125 million to combat road traffic deaths in low- and middle-income cities. In March 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies donated $100 million to help the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation eradicate polio worldwide.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has also supported initiatives to improve women’s health. In July 2012, the foundation committed $50 million to the Global Family Planning Initiative, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation program focused on providing obstetric care and contraceptives to women in developing countries. This contribution came after Bloomberg pledged $250,000 to support Planned Parenthood in February 2012. In October 2012, the foundation also donated $8 million to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Maternal Health Program, which focuses on reducing maternal deaths in Tanzania. In March 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded its work in Tanzania and to provide reproductive health services in Africa and Latin America.
Beginning in 2012, Bloomberg Philanthropies pledged $16.5 million toward the Obesity Prevention Program, a three-year effort to support public health policies aimed at reducing obesity in Mexico, which has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Mexican health leaders and activists mounted a national health campaign against soda consumption and successfully lobbied for the passage of a national sugar-sweetened beverage tax. In 2014 - the first year of the tax - purchases of sugary drinks in Mexico dropped by up to 12%.
In January 2014, the Obesity Prevention Program and other health advocates in Mexico successfully lobbied for the passage of an 8% tax on high calorie snacks, which was intended to work in tandem with the 2014 soda tax to reduce unhealthy food purchases nationwide. In June 2015, a study by researchers at Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill showed a corresponding average reduction of 5.1% in purchases of all food items subject to the junk food tax. Following the tax’s implementation, lower-income households in Mexico purchased 10.2% less junk food, while medium-income households bought 5.8% less overall.
On March 23, 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the four-year, $100 million Data for Health initiative in partnership with the Australian government. The initiative’s stated goal is to help 20 low and middle-income countries improve public health data collection and more effectively address public health problems. On June 21, 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the official launch of health partnerships with the first 18 participant countries, which include China, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, Ecuador, Malawi, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ focus on the arts includes a $32 million commitment in 2011 to funding arts organizations and initiatives throughout New York City as well as provide business management training. Bloomberg Philanthropies invited 250 small and midsize arts organizations to apply for the $32 million disbursal. In September 2011, Bloomberg Philanthropies joined several foundations to contribute a total of $11.5 million to ArtPlace, a nationwide art funding initiative led by the National Endowment for the Arts that aims to use the arts as a strategy for economic development.
In June 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $15 million grant to five institutions — Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Botanical Garden, and Guggenheim Museum — as part of the Bloomberg Arts Engagement Initiative to develop mobile applications for visitors. In September 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies committed $17 million to increase the use of digital technology at six cultural institutions – The Brooklyn Museum, American Museum of Natural History, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Science Museum in London, and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore – and rebranded the program as Bloomberg Connects. The foundation has committed a total of $83 million to cultural institutions around the world.
In October 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Public Art Challenge, a competition that invited local leaders and arts organizations to collaborate on temporary public art projects that would celebrate creativity and drive economic development. On June 23, 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced four winning projects, selected from 237 nationwide submissions. The winning proposals came from Gary, Indiana; Los Angeles, CA; Spartanburg, SC; and a joint effort between Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY. Each winning proposal received $1 million to support the proposed public art installation over the following two years.
From July 16 to August 14, 2016, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs hosted Current: LA Water, a citywide public art biennial supported by a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge initiative. Local artists created public art pieces across 16 different locations to remind LA residents of the city’s important relationship with water, in the face of record-setting drought and the ongoing work to revitalize the Los Angeles River.
Bloomberg Philanthropies supports efforts to make city government more efficient and innovative. In January 2013, a $16.2 million grant was awarded to five different cities to establish Financial Empowerment Centers, which were set up to provide free financial counseling for low-income individuals. Five U.S. cities split a $24 million Bloomberg Philanthropies grant to create “Innovation Delivery Teams” – teams working to streamline municipal government. In August 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invested $45 million for grants to implement Innovation Delivery Teams in city governments across the United States.
In March 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Providence, R.I. as the winner of the Mayors Challenge, an initiative intended to foster innovation in America’s cities. Providence was awarded $5 million for proposing a plan to overcome a language skills deficit prominent in low-income children. Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Santa Monica each were awarded $1 million. In September 2014, Barcelona was announced as the winner of the European Mayors Challenge, and the city was awarded €5 million to help improve the quality of life for elderly residents. Athens, Kirklees, United Kingdom, Stockholm, and Warsaw were awarded €1 million each.
On January 20, 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the 2016 Mayors Challenge, calling for Latin American and Caribbean cities to submit government innovation proposals that improve residents’ lives and make government work better. The winning cities will receive funding and ongoing foundational support to implement their proposals.
In April 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched What Works Cities, a $42 million national initiative to help 100 mid-sized American cities better use data and evidence to improve government effectiveness and residents' lives. As of March 2016, 27 U.S. cities were official participants in the program.
Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses on driving public policy initiatives and education leadership at a local level as a means to improving America’s school system. To date, the organization’s education giving has been split between charitable, legislative and political initiatives. In October 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a $10 million program to help top-performing students from low- and middle-income families apply to and graduate from the nation's top colleges. By December 2016, it pledged to give $1.7 million to the American Talent Initiative, a program run by the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute and Ithaka S+R, a consulting subsidiary of Ithaka Harbors.
Bloomberg has been a longtime donor to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. In January 2013, he donated $350 million to the university, the largest single gift in the school’s history. In total, Bloomberg has donated $1.1 billion to Johns Hopkins, making him the most generous living donor to any education institution in the country.
In April 2001, the School of Hygiene and Public Health was renamed as the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In May 2012, the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center opened inside the new Johns Hopkins Hospital, with a focus on pediatric care.
In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies began working with nonprofit advocacy organizations including Women for Women International and Sustainable Harvest to create economic opportunities for women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Supported initiatives include job training, civic and life skills education, entrepreneurship programs, and a philanthropic data-sharing portal created with the Foundation Center and the King Baudouin Center to help women in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi.
While hosting the U.S.-Africa Business Forum on September 23, 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $10 million grant to the Relationship Coffee Institute to support the expansion of its ongoing women’s economic development initiatives in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The renewed financial commitment will enable the institute to provide an additional 20,000 women in both countries with business training and connections to international coffee markets.
On October 4, 2016, Marriott International opened its first hotel in Rwanda with a pledge to support women trained by the Relationship Coffee Institute and Women for Women International - both local partners of Bloomberg Philanthropies. The new hotel has employed 27 such trainees in hospitality positions and procured their artisanal baskets, coffee, cheese, and honey to provide to hotel guests.
On October 18, 2016 Bloomberg revealed it is donating $50 million to the Museum of Science in Boston, the largest gift in the institution’s 186-year history.
As of January 2015:Tenley Albright, former Olympic figure skating champion
Emma Bloomberg, daughter of Michael Bloomberg
Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of Michael Bloomberg
David Boren, President of the University of Oklahoma, former U.S. Senator and Governor of Oklahoma
Kenneth Chenault, CEO and Chairman of American Express
D. Ronald Daniel, former managing director at McKinsey & Company
Manny Diaz, former Mayor of Miami
Daniel L. Doctoroff, Chairman and CEO of Sidewalk Labs, former CEO and President of Bloomberg L.P.
Fiona Druckenmiller, philanthropist
Patti Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies
Robert A. Iger, Chairman & CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Walter Isaacson, author and President and CEO of the Aspen Institute
Maya Lin, artist
John J. Mack, former CEO and Chairman of Morgan Stanley
Reverend Joseph M. McShane, President of Fordham University
Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Jamie Niven, Retired Chairman, Sotheby's The Americas
Sam Nunn, CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and former U.S. Senator
Samuel J. Palmisano, former President, CEO and chairman of IBM
Henry Paulson, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Alfred Sommer, Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP Group
Anne Tatlock, former Chairman and CEO of Fiduciary Trust International
Dennis Walcott, former New York City Schools Chancellor