Skip to main content

Mayor Bloomberg's giving to alma mater tops $1 billion

By CNN Staff
updated 11:10 AM EST, Sun January 27, 2013
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964.
  • NYC mayor's latest gift to Johns Hopkins is $350 million
  • That makes for a total of $1.1 billion over 45 years
  • Donation will go toward a "transformational" academic initiative
  • Bloomberg took out loans to attend Hopkins in the 1960s

(CNN) -- A kid raised in a middle-class Boston suburb, Michael Bloomberg took out loans to pay for his tuition at Johns Hopkins University and worked as a parking lot attendant.

He learned early to pay it forward.

Bloomberg's first gift to his alma mater was a whopping $5 in 1965, a year after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Fast forward to Saturday, when the Baltimore university announced Bloomberg has now given a total of $1.1 billion. The latest commitment came in the form of a cool $350 million toward a "transformational" initiative aimed at cross-discipline solutions to societal problems.

In a statement, Johns Hopkins said Bloomberg, a former trustee, is believed to be the first person to ever reach the $1 billion level of giving to a single U.S. institution of higher education.

The university's Twitter feed was aglow with information on the gift. One tweet heralded the announcement with the words, "Big News," which might have been an understatement.

Among other things, the donation will fund 2,600 Bloomberg Scholarships over 10 years and 50 distinguished scholars.

Of the $350 million, $100 million will go toward "need-based financial aid" for undergraduate students.

"Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago," Bloomberg said in the press release. "Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it."

The remarkable tally speaks to the generosity and success of New York City's mayor, who grew a business empire after leaving Baltimore. He will turn 71 on Valentine's Day.

Bloomberg earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. He was hired by the Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers in 1966, according to his biography on NYC's website.

After he was let go from Salomon when it was acquired in 1981, the budding entrepreneur used his information systems expertise to launch Bloomberg LP, which provided advanced computer systems for traders and financial firms. Bloomberg's media interests followed and the company now has more than 15,000 employees worldwide, according to his biography.

Bloomberg eventually devoted his energies to philanthropy and politics. He was elected mayor of the Big Apple in 2001 and has held the office since.

His first $1 million commitment to Johns Hopkins was made in 1984, 20 years after graduation, in honor of his mother, Charlotte.

The university's president, Ronald J. Daniels, said Saturday's announced gift "illustrates Mike's passion for fixing big problems quickly and efficiently. It will ensure not only that Johns Hopkins helps to solve humanity's problems, but also that it leads the world's universities in showing how it should be done."

The mayor's overall giving includes $240 million for capital and infrastructure improvements, $219 million for student financial aid and $336 million for research.

"Giving is only meaningful if the money will make a difference in people's lives," said Bloomberg. "And I know of no other institution that can make a bigger difference in lives around the world through its groundbreaking research -- especially in the field of public health."

CNN's Erinn Cawthon and Phil Gast contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.