Bloomberg Scholarship Fund

About Us

Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed financial support to Meharry Medical College to directly impact the number of Black medical students who will successfully complete medical school; maximize their professional potential, in chosen specialties; begin to build assets by lowering debt upon graduation; and create a legacy of commitment to the vulnerable and underserved.


Meharry Medical College, in turn, has developed a program that honors the students who meet the criteria for selection by deeming them Bloomberg Scholars (the “Scholars”), providing specifically tailored academic, social/emotional support, accountability and recognition for their ongoing commitment and achievement throughout their medical school matriculation. Further, Meharry will ensure that each Scholar advances the philanthropic spirit through a commitment to community service while at Meharry and beyond their formal medical training.


Black medical students are disproportionately burdened with a cumulation of debt, which typically includes undergraduate loans as well as loans for medical education. Each scholar will be eligible to receive, over the course of their undergraduate medical education, up to $100,000 in debt relief. Relieving scholars of a portion of education-related debt undoubtedly creates a less stressful medical school experience, and increases the opportunity for academic focus and success. Wrap around services, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will support the Scholar with dedicated and innovative student services to position them for successful completion of their undergraduate medical training. This financial support has the potential to change the trajectory of scholars who may now choose to enter Primary Care in lieu of a sub-specialty; or may conversely consider additional training for a subspecialty. Each scholar directly benefits from the freedom of choice that financial support offers.


Digna S. Forbes

Digna S. Forbes, M.D. FASCP

Principal Investigator
School: Medicine

Phone: 615.327.6277


Melicent Davis square

Melicent Smith, MBA

Director of Bloomberg Scholarship Fund/Scholar Success
School: Medicine

Phone: 615.327.6888

Michelle Randle_8166

Michele Randle

Senior Academic Coordinator
School: Medicine

Phone: 615.327.6625


Jo Ann Pettus-Mayes

Project Coordinator
School: Medicine

Phone: 615.327.6087


The goals for this scholarship program are:

  1. To increase the number of highly qualified Black physicians.
  2. To provide financial resources for Black medical students to lessen their debt burden as they pursuit undergraduate medical degrees.
  3. To promote a commitment to community service and philanthropy among these students as future health care professionals.


The primary operational objectives for the program are to:

  1. Ensure the success of the scholars through enhancing, monitoring, and evaluating the academic and professional development of each scholar.
  2. Cultivate a long-term commitment to community service by implementing a community service initiative, during matriculation, which requires scholars to serve vulnerable populations.
  3. Prepare scholars for a commitment to serve vulnerable areas.
  4. Apply scholarship funds to minimize scholar borrowing to help offset tuition costs, loans and expenses.

Students will not be required to apply for consideration. The School of Medicine Scholarship committee will apply the scholarship criteria to current students; and determine eligibility. Based on demographic information obtained during the Admissions process and input from the Office of Student Academic Affairs in the School of Medicine, all eligible students will be considered. Selected scholars will be required to sign a letter of commitment indicating their understanding and acceptance of scholarship terms.

The Bloomberg Scholarship Fund Program at Meharry will strive to operate in an environment where critical questions are raised and students are challenged to understand, through the lenses of different disciplines, the implications and impact of community service. Throughout their medical education training, scholars will be required to fulfill a minimum of 120 hours community service throughout their Bloomberg matriculation. The 120 hours should be completed by the last day of their senior year. Each student will use this time to explore their areas of interest. After selection of a community service area, the School of Medicine will work toward the planning and implementation of a significant service project of each student’s design. A student may support the mission of an established Nashville health care or social service organization or create a new project at Meharry Medical College that supports improving community health. Students will be able to participate in the Salt Wagon student-run free Clinic, which has a mission to address health care disparities within the Nashville community by providing free, high quality care to Nashville’s underserved populations and serving as a clinical skills training ground for students, inspiring the next generation of primary care specialists. Additionally, scholars may volunteer at the Meharry COVID Assessment sites, where free testing is provided to the community.

To disrupt the current inequities in our healthcare and economic systems to increase the number of Black doctors. Even before COVID-19, nearly 70% of Black students who drop out of medical school cite debt as a factor. Presidents of the four Historically Black Medical Schools (HBMS) estimate that their students on average are graduating with over $275,000 in debt (nearly $100,000 above the average medical school debt for the class of 2019). The disproportionate debt burden prevents many Black students from pursuing careers in medicine, and for those who do enter medicine, it narrows their options to serve communities in most need.

Provide funds for scholarships and wrap-around services to the four HBMSs. The four HBMSs have produced as many Black medical school graduates over the last 10 years as the top 10 non-HBMSs with the highest number of Black graduates. This strategy will create more opportunities for Bloomberg Philanthropies to partner with and support institutions that have an articulated mission to create diversity in the medical field.

  • Approximately 816 students will receive scholarships up to $100,000 ($25,000 for each year) during the academic years between the Fall of 2020 and the Spring of 2024. Of the 816 awarded scholarships, Meharry awarded 280 students.
  • Eligible medical school students in Years 2, 3, and 4 will receive retroactive scholarship payments to cover earlier tuition payments.
  • The gift also includes more than $20 million to provide robust “wrap around” services, including financial counseling and resources to track the program’s success.

The strategy will be implemented by working with the four Historically Black Medical Schools:

  1. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
  2. Howard University College of Medicine
  3. Meharry Medical College
  4. Morehouse School of Medicine
  1. Reduce the debt burden for Black medical school students
  2. Increase flexibility post-graduation, giving Black medical school students choice in how they practice
  3. Increase opportunities for Black doctors to practice in communities that need it most
  4. Improve health outcomes within the Black community