Meharry Medical College Receives Gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies to Increase Mobile Unit COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

$869,000 investment is part of a more than $6 Million commitment to Meharry Medical College, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine to help ensure equitable access to vaccines within Black communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic

Support follows historic $100 million gift in September, through its Greenwood Initiative, to nation’s four historically Black medical schools to help ease debt burden of 800 Black medical students


Giving vaccine dose at Saturday clinic

NASHVILLE, TENN. – April 13, 2021 — Meharry Medical College has received an $869,000 gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative to expand their mobile unit vaccine operations in and around Nashville, Tennessee. The gift is part of an over $6 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies to the nation’s four historically Black medical schools — Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science — to expand their mobile unit COVID-19 vaccine operations in their local communities as public health advocates have signaled the need for trusted vaccine administrators to combat lack of access and vaccine hesitancy within Black and medically underserved communities.


Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative is an effort to accelerate the pace of Black wealth accumulation in the United States and address decades of systemic underinvestment in Black communities. Its first investment in September, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a $100 million gift to the four schools to help ease the debt burden of approximately 800 Black medical students. Studies have shown that Black patients have better health outcomes when cared for by Black doctors, but Black medical students face a disproportionate financial burden to become doctors. Meharry received $34 million in support, the College’s largest donation to date.


Both gifts address the significant economic impact of persisting health disparities within the Black community and the importance of access to trusted healthcare providers and institutions.


“COVID-19 has been devastating to the health and economic wellbeing of many Black families – and right now, increasing equitable access to vaccines is one way we can serve the needs of those who need it most,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “Bloomberg Philanthropies is glad to expand our partnership with America’s four historically Black medical schools as they ramp up their mobile operations and ensure that more people get their shots quickly.”


To date, Meharry Medical College has vaccinated nearly 3,500 people and adds considerable avenues for vaccination weekly. With the additional support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the College will use its mobile unit to target urban and rural community populations living in senior housing, low-income city housing in northern and southeastern Nashville and rural Davidson County, and establish vaccination efforts through a network of Black churches. Meharry expects to provide a significant increase in vaccinations through the mobile unit operation over the coming months.


“For nearly 150 years, Meharry Medical College has served those unduly burdened by the nation’s health inequities,” said Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, President and CEO of Meharry Medical College. “Black Americans and our nation’s medically underserved are fighting two pandemics – COVID-19 and racial inequality. Minority communities have historically suffered from medical mistreatment and lack of access to quality health care but are now expected to trust a system that has neglected them for decades. As leaders in the healthcare community, it is our imperative to break this cycle and establish trust throughout our communities. Our deepened relationship with Bloomberg Philanthropies will continue to bring awareness to these systemic issues and provide the protection and care our communities deserve.”


This gift will also help address the disproportionate health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the Black community. Black individuals are less likely to have the ability to work from home and make up almost 17% of all front-line-industry workers. This increases the risk of exposure for Black Americans who are three times more likely than white individuals to contract COVID-19, and twice as likely to die from it. Black people are also less likely to have paid sick days leaving many who have recovered from COVID-19 with stalled income and the additional burden of medical bills. This is exacerbated by the fact that 12.3% of Black workers are uninsured, vs. 7.5% of white workers, making it more likely that Black workers will be burdened with costly medical bills if they get sick. Additionally, 73% of Black Americans say they do not have substantial financial reserves to cover sizeable emergency expenses.


Between February and April of 2020, the number of Black self-employed businesses owners declined by 41% compared to 17% of white self-employed businesses owners. From April to May of last year, 36% of Black households were experiencing food insecurity vs. 18% of white households, and according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Black unemployment rate is at 10%, almost two times higher than the white unemployment rate.


The COVID-19 vaccines can help improve the negative health impacts and resulting financial strain COVID-19 has on the Black community, but outreach is key. There is a clear disparity between white vaccination rates and Black vaccination rates across the U.S. Unreliable transportation, limited access to the internet to book appointments and long, inflexible work hours are just some of the hurdles individuals face when trying to get vaccinated – making community outreach efforts like Meharry’s essential. The College has spent decades building trusted relationships, and mobile clinics have historically improved access to care for medically underserved communities.


For more information on Meharry Medical College:


About Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health sciences center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church-related institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Meharry is a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Visit to learn more.


About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok.