Bloomberg to donate historic $1.8 billion to Hopkins for low-income scholarships

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (Rebecca Blackwell / AP)

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity alumnus, will give $1.8 billion in scholarship money to the Johns Hopkins University, the largest gift to any academic institution in U.S. history.

The historic gift, announced Sunday, will be spent exclusively for low- and middle-income scholarships, allowing the university to permanently offer need-blind admissions and eliminating the need for student loans in financial aid packages.

University President Ronald J. Daniels likened Bloomberg’s gift to the $7 million donation Johns Hopkins gave in 1873 to found the school, and compared it to railroad magnate and former California Gov. Leland Stanford’s founding of Stanford and John D. Rockefeller’s financial support of the University of Chicago.

“It’s at another level — truly transformative,” Daniels said. “It’s a moment in which Hopkins becomes better equipped to bring a student population to Baltimore that truly reflects the fabric of this country.”

Bloomberg, a Hopkins alumnus and financial and media magnate who is considering a run for president in 2020, has already donated $6.4 billion to philanthropic causes over his lifetime. The gift more than doubles the $1.5 billion he has already given to Hopkins, whose School of Public Health bears his name.

“America is at its best when we reward people based on the quality of their work, not the size of their pocketbook,” Bloomberg wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Sunday afternoon. “Denying students entry to a college based on their ability to pay undermines equal opportunity. It perpetuates intergenerational poverty. And it strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.”

The gift, he wrote, “will allow the school to offer more generous scholarships. It will ease the burden of student debt for many graduates. And it will help open up the American dream to more young people.”