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Annual Report / Founder’s Projects

Annual Report 2021: Founder’s Projects

Improving Lives Worldwide

Founder’s Projects are unique efforts led by Bloomberg Philanthropies to address issues that fall outside the core program areas – and that the pandemic has only intensified. These initiatives emerge from Mike’s personal experiences in business, government, and philanthropy.

All around the world, nations are grappling with challenges that only seem to be intensifying. The problems we face stretch across borders. And so, to solve them, we have to stretch across borders, too.

- Mike Bloomberg

Investing in Women’s Economic Independence

Women’s Economic Development

The Women’s Economic Development program is committed to the belief that women are central to economic growth, and that expanding opportunities and earning power for women strengthens communities and promotes economic independence. Across a wide range of efforts with key nonprofit and government partners, the program draws on a strong model for progress: providing women with critical skills and business training, connecting them and their products to international markets to increase market access, and ensuring they have partnerships and investments in place to sustain their success.

Through work with nonprofit organizations like Women for Women International, Sustainable Growers, and Nest, the initiative has enrolled more than half a million women in training programs around the world, directly benefiting more than 2.2 million family members. Across the portfolio, 12 different vocational tracks are available to the women who enroll, including agriculture, tourism, brickmaking, and textiles, that are based on market assessments and government priorities in each country.

This work includes partnerships with Sustainable Growers and national governments to train women producers in Rwanda, Congo, and Tanzania and bring high-quality coffee to the international market. Today, the coffee they produce is sold around the world. In partnership with CARE, Bloomberg Philanthropies is expanding efforts to increase farmers’ income and agricultural productivity by developing pooled savings and loans programs, enabling farmers in Rwanda, Congo, and Tanzania to access working capital and build their businesses. Bloomberg Philanthropies also supports Nest’s global work with women and their families who make goods by hand in their homes – including developing the first-ever Ethical Standard to ensure fair wages, safe working conditions, and other benefits for people producing goods from home. This work has expanded access to markets for more than 1,100 businesses representing 250,000 workers in over 120 countries.

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Strengthening Johns Hopkins University and Its Home City

Johns Hopkins University

In 1964, the year he graduated, Mike Bloomberg donated $5 to Johns Hopkins University. Ever since, he has demonstrated a special commitment to his alma mater, serving as chair of the Board of Trustees and supporting need-based scholarships, endowed professorships, major capital projects, and research. His historic $1.8 billion gift in 2018 made Johns Hopkins need-blind in perpetuity.

Mike’s commitment has helped make the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health a pioneering force in public health research and scholarship and an indispensable leader in the global response to COVID-19. It is ranked the #1 school of public health in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report, and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support has been key in developing the widely cited Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Johns Hopkins University. Mike was honored to give the 2021 commencement address at Johns Hopkins, where he spoke about the importance of togetherness and the inspiration behind his company and philanthropy.
Mike was honored to give the 2021 commencement address at Johns Hopkins, where he spoke about the importance of togetherness and the inspiration behind his company and philanthropy.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center, the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, and the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. The Bloomberg Distinguished Professors program was also recently expanded from 50 to 100 endowed professorships, each with appointments in at least two schools across the university to increase cross-disciplinary collaboration and lead to new breakthroughs.

With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Johns Hopkins has also purchased and begun to transform the former Newseum building at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The iconic building will provide a new, high-visibility home for the university’s D.C.-based academic programs, anchored by the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. It will also provide Baltimore-based students with greater access to experiences in the nation’s capital, fostering new collaboration opportunities.


Bloomberg Philanthropies continues to expand its philanthropic engagement in Johns Hopkins’ home city of Baltimore, with a focus on youth, education, small businesses, and workforce development.

The Bloomberg Youth Fellows program provides year-round academic support and professional development opportunities for young people, implemented by partners HeartSmiles and Living Classrooms Foundation. West Baltimore native Joni Holifield founded HeartSmiles in 2015 as a platform for young people to cultivate their talents through leadership development. Joni also oversees the Youth Advisory Board at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which provides guidance from young people to the school’s Center for Adolescent Health. To date, the fellows program has supported 148 Baltimore teens, including 23 in 2021.

In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with Goldman Sachs to expand their successful 10,000 Small Businesses program to Baltimore to help local entrepreneurs grow their companies. More than 475 program alumni now have a combined revenue of over $450 million and over 9,000 employees.

Baltimore is a host city for the Bloomberg Arts Internship program, and Baltimore-based arts organizations participate in the Arts Innovation and Management program. Bloomberg Philanthropies has also worked with city leaders to better use data through the City Data Alliance, to improve public safety with creative solutions from an Innovation Team, and to hone management skills through the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. In 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded support for Baltimore’s Grads2Careers program to advance career and technical education. The program has provided skills training to 500 young people and will now reach over 800 more.

Fighting for Common-Sense Reforms to Prevent U.S. Gun Violence

Everytown for Gun Safety

In 2006, Mike Bloomberg co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns to fight gun violence in cities and advocate for common-sense gun safety laws. The group merged with Moms Demand Action, a network of grassroots volunteer activists, and together formed Everytown for Gun Safety in 2014. Today, Everytown is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the United States, with a network of over 2,000 current and former mayors, 1,500 gun violence survivors, 450 Students Demand Action volunteer groups, and millions more supporters across the country.


Listen to Learn How Everytown is Working at the Federal, State, and Local Levels to Prevent Gun Violence

Everytown advocates at the local, state, and federal levels for laws and policies that make a demonstrable difference in public safety, such as mandatory background checks for all handgun sales. It advances gun safety through innovative litigation and continuing efforts to classify untraceable, homemade guns as firearms under federal law.

Electing “Gun Sense Champions” is a key part of Everytown’s advocacy strategy. In 2021, Everytown invested statewide in New Jersey and Virginia and in local races across the country from mayor to sheriff to school board, including by training members of their grassroots network to run for office themselves. Mike supported this work with his personal funds.

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Everytown for Gun Safety
At the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., a Students Demand Action member holds a mural signed by volunteers across the country that calls on lawmakers to institute background checks on all handgun sales. Credit: Everytown for Gun Safety.

Rebuilding and Remembering in New York City

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Elected mayor just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Mike Bloomberg led New York City through the aftermath, including the work of rebuilding the World Trade Center site and transforming Lower Manhattan into the diverse, 24/7, family-friendly community it is today. The resilient spirit, hard work, and courage of countless New Yorkers enabled the entire city to make a remarkable recovery.

Mike began his chairmanship of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in 2006. The institution bears solemn witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, and has become one of the most visited sites in New York City. It honors thousands of victims and recovery workers and preserves their stories for young people and future generations that have no memories of the attacks.

In 2021, the world came together to mark 20 years since the attacks. Mike welcomed President Joe Biden and many other visiting dignitaries to the Memorial & Museum’s in-person commemoration ceremony, which was attended by over 8,500 people.

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9/11 Memorial & Museum
Mike Bloomberg tours the 9/11 Memorial Museum with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Supporting Culture in Lower Manhattan

The Performing Arts Center

First conceived as part of the World Trade Center Master Plan in 2003 and chaired by Mike Bloomberg, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC) is now under construction and scheduled to open in 2023. The Performing Arts Center will be a cultural anchor for Lower Manhattan – and a symbol of renewal as New York City rebuilds in the wake of a crisis yet again.

Clad in marble, the building will glow at night, reflecting the vitality of the performing arts. Inside, state-of-the-art spaces will house productions in theater, film, dance, music, and chamber opera. Designed to change layouts with innovative technology, these performance spaces will give artists new opportunities to create and engage with audiences from around the world. The Performing Arts Center will also serve as a prominent community space for Lower Manhattan’s residents, workers, and visitors.

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Top photo: With partner Sustainable Growers, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports women coffee producers in Rwanda, Congo, and Tanzania, with long-term investments resulting in the women-operated Question Coffee Café and the Coffee Academy. Sustainable Growers was recognized as a model at Expo 2020 Dubai, advancing four UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Credit: Clay Enos