Morehouse School of Medicine announces $225 million fundraising campaign

Morehouse School of Medicine administers the first of two Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to civil rights leaders including Andrew Young and sets up reminders for the second dose Tuesday, January 5, 2021.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Morehouse School of Medicine administers the first of two Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to civil rights leaders including Andrew Young and sets up reminders for the second dose Tuesday, January 5, 2021. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Goals include graduating more Black doctors

Morehouse School of Medicine is embarking on a fundraising campaign with several key goals, particularly training more Black doctors.

The historically Black medical school near downtown Atlanta announced plans this week to raise $225 million to support scholarships, programs, facilities, research, clinical innovation, and community service as part of what it describes as its first comprehensive capital campaign.

One key goal is to raise at least $75 million for an endowment to ease the debt burden on students. The school has approximately 700 students, with an annual tuition for first-year students of about $45,000. On average, Black medical school students graduate with more debt than white students since they more frequently come from lower income households.

The school’s leaders say this effort is necessary to address the underrepresented percentage of Black physicians nationwide. While Blacks make up about 13% of the nation’s population, just 5% of doctors in the U.S. are Black, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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“We are on a mission to change the world, a mission that is more important now than ever before, as society continues to struggle with the dual pandemics of racial injustice and COVID-19,” the school’s president, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, said in a statement Wednesday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “These pandemics have a disproportionately negative impact on disadvantaged communities. We at Morehouse School of Medicine can change that.”

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Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice welcomed the incoming class during a program in the auditorium in this June 2019 file photo. When Montgomery Rice became the first woman to head the Morehouse School of Medicine in 2014, she had big plans, including increasing the number of aspiring physicians the school admitted. BOB ANDRES / ROBERT.ANDRES@AJC.COM

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice welcomed the incoming class during a program in the auditorium in this June 2019 file photo. When Montgomery Rice became the first woman to head the Morehouse School of Medicine in 2014, she had big plans, including increasing the number of aspiring physicians the school admitted. BOB ANDRES / ROBERT.ANDRES@AJC.COM

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Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice welcomed the incoming class during a program in the auditorium in this June 2019 file photo. When Montgomery Rice became the first woman to head the Morehouse School of Medicine in 2014, she had big plans, including increasing the number of aspiring physicians the school admitted. BOB ANDRES / ROBERT.ANDRES@AJC.COM

About 66% of the school’s graduates go on to practice in primary care and 72% plan to work in a primarily underserved area, school officials said. Rice points to studies showing that Black patients generally receive better care from Black doctors because they often more acutely understand their health challenges.

Other organizations have contributed to the school’s goal to reduce the financial burden on its students. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by business titan and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced in September a four-year gift totaling $26 million designated to help Black students at the school receiving financial aid.

The school’s $225 million goal is one of the largest fundraising campaigns by any HBCU. In March, Spelman College, also in Atlanta, announced a $250 million campaign for a new technology and innovations building, renovations for its arts facilities and to enhance scholarships and bring in top faculty.

Morehouse School of Medicine officials said they have raised $114 million through an earlier part of the fundraising effort. Many colleges and organizations conduct similar “quiet” fundraising to show donors the strength of the effort before announcing the public phase of the campaign. The main $150 million campaign will likely continue through at least 2025, school officials said.