Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving $150 million to Harvard University for a program designed to help mayors around the world more successfully lead their cities by training them to better manage, innovate and share best practices.
The gift is the latest in a long line Mr. Bloomberg has made to universities over many years and comes as cities are stressed by the coronavirus pandemic and related revenue shortfalls.
The gift is an extension of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which Mr. Bloomberg launched in 2017 with a $32 million gift. The additional money will go toward hiring 10 professors, building out programs to train mayor at Harvard and facilitating two year fellowships for Harvard graduate students in mayoral offices around the world.
“This is a major new investment in the people who have enormous and unique powers to attack society’s biggest challenges: mayors,” said Mr. Bloomberg said. The former three-term mayor, who launched a short-lived bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The pandemic has driven home just how important mayors are to the everyday lives of billions of people.”
Mr. Bloomberg has given Johns Hopkins University, his alma mater, more than $3 billion, Cornell University $100 million to help build the school’s technology campus on Roosevelt Island in New York, and $100 million to four historically Black medical schools to ease the debt of medical students.
The Bloomberg Center for Cities is a collaboration between Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School. Last year, in response to the pandemic and protests calling for racial justice, the Initiative convened weekly conference calls with mayors and their teams to provide up-to-date public-health information, crisis-management tools and the opportunity to share key information.
Mayors are struggling with unfunded mandates from state and national government, said Jorrit de Jong, faculty director of the program. The Initiative has focused on helping mayors use data to make better-informed decisions, leverage their bully pulpit and network with peers in other cities to share best practices.