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Opportunity Narrative Spotlight: Mayor Michael Bloomberg

by Tamara Keeney   •  

This Valentine’s Day, Opportunity Nation is marking February 14th with an additional cause of celebration: the birthday of our Leadership Council co-chair, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

As the Mayor of the City of New York, Bloomberg has made a commitment to increasing opportunity scores across the five boroughs. To recognize Mayor Bloomberg on his birthday, let’s take a look at his opportunity narrative from his birth in Brighton, Massachusetts to his current role as Mayor of New York City.

Looking at the Opportunity Index we see that Bloomberg’s birth place of Brighton, located in Suffolk County, faces significant barriers to opportunity in the categories of economy and education. After the Bloomberg family moved only 11 miles north to the suburb of Medford in Middlesex County, the opportunity score increased from a C+ to a B+ with Middlesex County ranking lower than Suffolk only in overall community score. This drastic jump in scores highlights the impact an individual’s birth place can have on their future, even from one county to a neighboring county.

In 2012, Suffolk County, MA had an overall grade of a C+.

In 2012, Middlesex County, MA had an overall grade of a B+

After graduating from high school in Medford, Bloomberg took out loans and worked as a parking lot attendant to put himself through college at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Had Bloomberg decided to take up residence in Maryland, his bachelor’s degree would put him in the minority of Baltimore City adults who hold an associates degree or higher. The below average number of adults holding any degree coupled with the high employment rate suggests an opportunity for the introduction of additional workforce development programs to assist Baltimore residents with easier access to employment and social mobility. Mayor Bloomberg has addressed the barrier of college affordability through donations to his alma mater saying, “Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it.” Bloomberg’s first donation to Johns Hopkins in 1965 was for $5. To date, he has donated over $1 billion to the school.

Working his way up from an entry-level position on Wall Street to eventually becoming the Mayor in 2002, Bloomberg has a new set of opportunity related challenges to address in each of the five boroughs of New York City. The Opportunity Index scores for the five boroughs and their five separate counties vary. However, four of the five boroughs score lower than the New York state average in the education category.

In response to the troubled education sector in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has implemented changes in alignment with an overall goal of increasing high school graduation rates and adequately preparing graduates with career skills. The changes have seen measurable success with graduation rates up 40% since 2005 and dropout rates down 10%.

From his beginnings in Suffolk County to the job he now has to increase opportunity scores across New York’s five boroughs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s story of opportunity highlights a number of the issues facing individuals in pursuit of the American Dream. Given the opportunity to make measurable change in New York City, he has committed to investing in innovative ideas to approach the challenges faced by our country as a whole.

At our 2011 Summit Mayor Bloomberg had the following to say regarding opportunity, “It is the time that America can show that this still is the land of opportunity. That we care for each other, that we’re willing to listen to new ideas, and that we’re not going to give up on any Americans.” We are honored to have Mayor Bloomberg as the co-chair of our Leadership Council as Opportunity Nation works to restore the ladder of opportunity, one rung at a time.

Tamara Keeney

Writer, Opportunity Nation

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