Bloomberg Philanthropies donates $25 million for graduate fellowship at Wagner

The Georgina and Charlotte Bloomberg Public Service Fellows Program will cover the tuition of up to 20 graduate students per year.

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Manasa Gudavalli

Bloomberg Philanthropies donates $25 million to endow the Georgina and Charlotte Bloomberg Public Service Fellows Program at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. This fellowship is expected to cover tuition for up to 20 students per year beginning in the Fall 2021 semester. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli, Image Courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Staff Illustration by Manasa Gudavalli)

By Saurabh Kumar, Staff Writer

Bloomberg Philanthropies donated $25 million to the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service earlier this month to endow the Georgina and Charlotte Bloomberg Public Service Fellows Program. The fellowship is expected to fully cover tuition for up to 20 students per year beginning in the Fall 2021 semester. It will also offer scholarships, paid internships, mentorship and a specialized curriculum.

“This contribution is going almost totally to fellowships,” said Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management. “Our goal is to try to prepare people to have careers that are going to focus on solving challenges that the public sector takes on.”

A former adviser to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Moss will oversee the fellowship, which is named after Bloomberg’s mother and daughter, both of whom are NYU alumni.

We are delighted that the Bloomberg foundation has chosen to endow the fellowships at Wagner, and hope the availability of these fellowships will encourage many students who had previously thought public service education was not viable for them to follow their passions,” Wagner Dean Sherry Glied wrote in an email statement to WSN. “This very generous fellowship will enable promising NYU undergraduates and MPA applicants from outside NYU to attend Wagner at zero tuition cost.”

The two-year program will pay for up to 20 students per year to complete a Master of Public Service or Master of Urban Planning degree at Wagner. The program will also offer paid internships and summer stipends to fellows. According to the university’s news release, the fellowship aims to ensure that economic barriers do not bar talented individuals with a passion for public service from pursuing their education and diversifying city leadership.

“Salaries in most public service occupations are modest, and the cost of tuition can be an important impediment to pursuing these careers,” Glied wrote to WSN. “The fellowship will take that barrier away.” 

CAS sophomore Maria Olifer, who studies public policy at Wagner, thinks there are too few people of color, women and young adults in government. She said the fellowship’s ability to alleviate the financial burdens of obtaining a master’s degree and its aim to increase diversity in city leadership are admirable. 

“I think this donation is an incredible step in the right direction,” Olifer wrote in a text to WSN. 

“The public policy problems of the future are unlikely to be solved by the old, white men in Congress,” Olifer continued. “We need more young people making public policy decisions.”

Fellows will have access to connections and experiences not often available to students, especially students from underprivileged backgrounds, Glied said. According to Moss, the fellowship will also offer students opportunities to get out of the classroom and go places they might not otherwise be able to.

“The program’s unique curriculum will truly use New York City, one of the most complex cities in the world, as its classroom, providing a greater understanding of New York’s many municipal systems and the non-profit organizations which support them,” a Bloomberg Philanthropies spokesperson told WSN.

According to the spokesperson, bringing more diverse perspectives into public service is critical. To best reach students who stand to benefit most from the program, Moss said he plans to reach out to undergraduate and graduate advisers at colleges that already have strong programs for people of color. 

“We are going to widely promote [the fellowship] and make this available,” Moss said. “We will make sure people know about it … There is going to be an explicit effort to have a very diverse class this year and coming years.”

Email Saurabh Kumar at [email protected]