Bloomberg Philanthropies

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

Bloomberg Philanthropies is the charitable foundation of Michael Bloomberg.

It is 12th on its list of the largest grant-making foundations in the US, and is focused on five policy areas: the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education.

In the area of health, for example, Bloomberg announced in 2012 that his foundation was pledging $220 million over four years in the fight against global tobacco use.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has financed market-based education reforms in the US.

Lobbying for corporate education reform

Bloomberg Philanthropies, under the Bloomberg Education Policy Initiative, is lobbying for reform of America's education system. It also donates money to pro-reform political candidates.

Its funding is directed at two areas of reform: leadership in education; and lobbying for specific policy changes. Some of these benefit corporate education providers.

Education reform as Mayor of New York

Michael Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York from 2002-2013, stated that education reform would be his greatest legacy as mayor. To achieve this, he made the city a 'national laboratory for education reform'[1]

The reforms went under the banner of Children First, and were overseen in the main by his appointed schools chancellor, Joel Klein. The planning for the Children First initiative was funded by $4 million in private philanthropic funds, half of which was said to come from venture philanthropist Eli Broad. The planning for Children First was contracted out to McKinsey & Company. Michael Barber, then of McKinsey, formerly education adviser to Tony Blair was one of a handful of advisers to Bloomberg at the time. The team of consultants was led by Ron Beller, a partner at Goldman Sachs, and current trustee of Ark schools based in the UK.[2][3]

Bloomberg's education reforms in New York City were characterised by buzzwords like choice, competition, marketplace and accountability (much like education reforms introduced in the UK under Blair).

Specific policy reforms included:

  • Dramatically increasing the number of charter schools; under Bloomberg, New York City saw a dramatic increase in the number of independently-managed charter schools. This was accompanied by the closure of over a hundred schools deemed to be failing.
  • Reforms to how teachers are evaluated, controversially grading – and rewarding, or punishing teachers - according to test scores.
  • Pushing standardised testing; Bloomberg has supported groups in favour of Common Core State Standards.
  • Smaller schools; with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, New York City created hundreds of small schools (often by breaking up larger schools into smaller units).
  • Imposed limits on teacher tenure.

The Bloomberg-led education reforms in New York City sparked protests from residents and teachers unions. They are said to have shown 'mixed results'.

Lobbying for education reform across the US

Michael Bloomberg has sought to export his reforms, trialled in New York, across the U.S. The NY Times reported in December 2013, that he was creating a 'high-powered consulting group' to help him reshape cities around the world, based on his experience in New York.[4]

Examples of Bloomberg's money influencing education reforms across the US, include:


Bloomberg gave $200,000 to Education Voters of Idaho, a nonprofit group championing education reform laws in the state of Idaho, which would have limited collective bargaining rights for teachers, implemented performance related pay, and introduced more technology into teaching and learning. The pro-reform campaign was unsuccessful, and the laws were repealed by popular demand.


Bloomberg has put money into lobbying for education reform in Louisiana. Bloomberg Philanthropies states:

'The 2011 elections [in Louisiana] represented a rare opportunity to transform Louisiana’s State Board of Education and catalyze efforts to enact impactful education reforms in the state.'

Bloomberg's money:

  • Helped create a pro-education reform majority on Louisiana’s Board of Education, by personally supporting candidates running for seats on the Board 'who were dedicated to advancing student outcomes through strong policy.'
  • These reformers, including Stand for Children, 'went on to create and pass teacher quality provisions as part of a comprehensive education reform bill, which includes teacher quality and school choice provisions.'
  • Ensured that New Orleans continues to progress on nationally significant reforms while complementing Louisiana’s new statewide reforms, by supporting candidates running for seats on the Orleans Parish School Board in November 2012.[5]

Affiliations (education reform)

Influence in the UK

Michael Bloomberg has a growing interest in the UK. A 2013 article in the NY Times describes him as 'exporting his vast quantities of financial, social and political capital to this ancient city, where he has long yearned for influence.'[8]

  • Bloomberg and his company have donated nearly £1million to UK political candidates and political parties. He has also hosted dinners for, among others the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Also, when David Cameron sought to become prime minister in 2010, Bloomberg arranged for top political strategists to help out. He has also spoken twice at gatherings of the Conservative Party, whose views he shares. Bloomberg has donated thousands to the Tory candidate to become Mayor of London in 2016, Sajid Javid.
  • Bloomberg has a close relationship with fellow Mayor, Boris Johnson, who described Bloomberg as having 'a lot of cut-through in Britain'. On becoming mayor, Johnson sent his new chief of staff to New York for several days of training with Bloomberg’s deputies.
  • Bloomberg has financed the development of Bloomberg Place, a 10-storey, £300 million HQ for his business and charity (set to open in 2016). He also owns as flat in London's prestigious Cadogan Square.
  • He is underwriting a major expansion of the Serpentine gallery, and has supported the Royal Court and the Tate galleries. He also owns a box at Ascot.
  • A public relations firm was hired to make introductions in London society.[9]

Lobbying in the UK

Bloomberg Philanthropies employs the following lobbying firms in the UK (as of August 2015):

Bloomberg's UK offices also host regular breakfasts with the think tank Centre Forum, 'with keynote speakers from within government'.


Board of directors

The Board of Bloomberg Philanthropies includes (as of August 2015):

Former board members

  • Jeb Bush, former board member; Bush’s focus on the board was education reform.[10]




  1. Fernanda Santos, Bloomberg Focuses His Legacy on Education Reform, NY Times, 13 February 2012
  2. Wayne Barrett, THE UNDERSIDE OF BLOOMBERG'S SCHOOL REFORM, Village Voice, 21 October 2003
  3. Trustees, Ark website, accessed August 2015
  4. Michael Barbaro, Bloomberg Focuses on Rest (as in Rest of the World), NY Times, 14 December 2013
  5. Education Policy, Bloomberg Philanthropies website, accessed August 2015
  6. Supporters, The Seventy Four website, accessed August 2015
  7. Stephanie Simon, Activist targeting schools, backed by big bucks, Reuters, 16 May 2012
  8. MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM, For a Global Life, Bloomberg Builds His Own British Empire, NY Times, 7 February 2013
  9. MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM, For a Global Life, Bloomberg Builds His Own British Empire, NY Times, 7 February 2013
  10. Jeb Was Only Part of Bloomberg Group for ‘Education Reform’ — They Were Big Advocates of Common Core, IJReview, August 2015