Meharry Medical College gets $34M gift to increase number of Black doctors, improve minority health

Meharry Announcment Quan camera_frame_14926.jpeg
Posted at 7:25 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 21:47:29-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Meharry Medical College has received a $34 million gift to increase the number of Black physicians nationwide and help medical students pay off student loan debt.

On Thursday, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $100 million donation to four HBCU medical schools, including Meharry Medical College.

Meharry President and CEO Dr. James Hildreth said Bloomberg Philanthropies made the donation to increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S. by reducing the their financial burden and help improve the health disparities among minority communities nationwide.

“This is a momentous day for Meharry Medical College, our students and the people we serve,” said Hildreth. “We could not be more honored to receive this gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies or more excited about what it means for the future of minority health care for generations to come.”

This is the largest donation in the college’s history.

Additionally, Dr. Hildreth said the donation makes it possible for currently enrolled medical students to be eligible for a scholarship up to $100,000. The grant also covers “wrap around” services, such as financial counseling for students and resources to track the program’s success.

"This gift says to the nation very loudly and very clearly that Black health care matters," said Hildreth.

According to Meharry, only 5% of practicing physicians in the U.S. are Black, and data shows that Black patients have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors.

Several students tuned into the announcement via Zoom; a handful were invited to attend in person. 'I started to have tears in my eyes because I was like, this is the reason I chose this institution," said Aliah Fonteh, a Meharry medical student.

While the scholarships won't absorb every penny of debt that med student Asha Cotterell has collected, she knows from a pretty reliable source what it means to be that much closer to financial freedom. "My mom actually, I don’t think finished paying off her student loans until last year and she’s in her 60s," said Cotterell.

Fonteh says this investment in her future has inspired her to do her absolute best. "I’m going to push harder than I ever have before and I’m going to encourage my colleagues to do the same," she said.