Coca-Cola Lifting the Weight of Student Debt

The Coca-Cola Foundation Commits $2.08 Million to Student Scholarships at Morehouse School of Medicine.

ATLANTA – November 11, 2019 – The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded $2.08 million to Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) for scholarships that will allow 12 medical students to pursue their dreams without the distraction of severe debt. In addition to this current gift, The Coca-Cola Foundation — which is the philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company — has provided over $3 million of funding to MSM since 2014.

Recipients include first-year medical student Adam Muñoz, who entered MSM to study psychiatry or primary care for Atlanta’s impoverished and mentally ill populations. "I want to be able to take a job that might not pay the most but could help a lot of people," he said. "But debt can put a lot of pressure on you. It can interfere with your education."

The average debt for medical school graduates is about $200,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Graduates of public medical schools carry an average of $243,902. Graduates of private medical schools carry $300,000 or more.

“Pursuing a medical education is challenging enough without the crushing burden of student debt,” said Helen Smith Price, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation and Vice President of Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company. “We want to empower these future healthcare leaders who have committed to MSM’s mission of serving the underserved.”

Six students from the 2019 entering class will receive $40,000 per year for four years: Muñoz, Breana Bess, Maria M. Fleiderman, Ka’Necia S. Martin, Lois J. Sharpe, and Carlton G. Smith. Another seven recipients will be named from the 2020 entering class of MDs.

“The Coca-Cola Foundation’s generosity continues to have a substantial impact on helping us achieve our ultimate goal of having students graduate from MSM debt-free,” said MSM President and Dean Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD. “Reducing their debt load means our graduates are free to pursue meaningful careers, unburdened by financially driven decisions.”

The scholarship awards are based on financial need and academic merit for the duration of the students’ medical school career. Students must maintain a 3.0 average to be eligible for renewal each year.

“The world needs what Morehouse School of Medicine does best: educating and graduating healthcare leaders with a dedication to serving the underserved,” said MSM Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Bennie L. Harris, PhD. “It’s about more than just getting a degree; it’s about truly making a difference. The Coca-Cola Foundation continues to be a generous supporter of this mission.”

As a result of this gift, students like Muñoz can graduate with a lighter debt burden — and their dreams intact. "I like that I will be free to control how I pursue a career in medicine," he said. "Helping the underserved will be emotionally rewarding."



Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), located in Atlanta, Ga., was founded in 1975 as a two-year Medical Education Program at Morehouse College with clinical training affiliations with several established medical schools for awarding the MD degree. In 1981, MSM became an independently chartered institution and the first medical school established at a Historically Black College and University in the 20th century. MSM is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians and has twice been recognized as the top institution among U.S. medical schools for its dedication to the social mission of education. The faculty and alumni are noted in their fields for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, and are known in the community for exceptional, culturally appropriate patient care. Morehouse School of Medicine is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctorate and master’s degrees.



The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, The Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world, including protecting the environment; empowering women; and supporting the overall well-being of communities through education, youth development, arts and culture, and economic development.