He’s a New York City multibillionaire who’s pledged to give away his fortune while he’s alive, and Boston has become a beneficiary of his largesse. Michael Bloomberg may have based his career in Manhattan — first building Bloomberg LP, his financial services and media company, then spending 12 years as mayor of New York — but he’s never severed his ties to Medford, his hometown. His connection to, and affection for, the Boston area is apparent in his philanthropy: Last year, he gave Boston’s Museum of Science a staggering $50 million, the largest gift in its history, and made a $32 million contribution to Harvard University.
They aren’t traditional gifts, either. Rather than emblazon his name on new buildings, the 75-year-old Bloomberg wants to promote education by funding museum programs that celebrate science and engineering. At Harvard, his money will create a training program for mayors and other municipal leaders. Called the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, it’s aimed at making sure cities are run effectively.
“Mike’s gift to us is clearly investing in young learners and making a new generation of critical thinkers and leaders in today’s world,” says Annette Sawyer, the museum’s vice president of education and enrichment programs. The donations will ensure that “we’re able to support children and families here,” she says, and at Harvard “it’s building a pipeline of tomorrow’s leaders in government.”