Did Michael Bloomberg and Jeffrey Epstein ‘Collab’ on a Charter School Funding Plan?

Amid the flurry of rumors connecting Democratic Party presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg to convicted (now deceased) pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, social media users posted a photo of what they called a “collab” between the two involving a charter school.

On February 14 2020, the “TrueAnon” podcast posted excerpts from a document touting Epstein “welcoming” an announcement from Bloomberg — who at the time was mayor of New York City — that he would be funding four new charter schools:

Thanks to @bornwithatail_ for finding this Bloomberg x Epstein x Charter Schools collab pic.twitter.com/LnJJxjCFfh

— TrueAnon Pod (@TrueAnonPod) February 15, 2020

The screenshots, which were later posted on Facebook by other users, were taken from an actual statement released by the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation on March 15, 2013:

New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, recently announced that he will personally fund the creation of four charter schools in New York City. The announcement was welcomed by New York financier and education philanthropist, Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, a long-time supporter of Bloomberg, has financed numerous charter schools across the country including the Maya Angelou schools in Washington DC, the highly acclaimed Bard High School Early College in New York City and the Harlem Link Charter School.

The Mayor has a keen sense of what’s needed to run a charter school,” Jeffrey Epstein noted, whose own foundation also has a long history of supporting early education and Head Start programs. “Bloomberg oversees numerous charter schools and understands how to optimize fiscal and academic standards.”

But while the podcast called the foundation’s post evidence of a collaboration, the statement does not mention Epstein contributing anything monetary toward the project:

Bloomberg’s funding will come through his foundation, the Young Men’s Initiative, which is also funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Once approved by the state Board of Regents, the co-ed charter high schools will open in September 2014, alongside four public schools in five high-poverty neighborhoods: in Brooklyn, the South Bronx, Queens and East Harlem. Both the public and charter schools will share a board of trustees, with Melanie Hartzog, a former City Hall official for Health and Human Services, as a proposed member.

Bloomberg launched the foundation in 2011, the same year he told PBS in an interview:

There’s this enormous cohort of black and Latino males, age, let’s say, 16 to 25, that don’t have jobs, don’t have any prospects, don’t know how to find jobs, don’t know what their skillsets are, don’t know how to behave in the workplace where they have to work collaboratively and collectively.

Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 for soliciting an underage sex worker, was arrested on federal sex-trafficking charges in July 2019. A month later, while awaiting trial, he died in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. The cause of death was officially listed as a suicide by hanging, but conspiracy theories surrounding his death persist both online and off. Two guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, have pleaded not guilty to charges of altering jail records to make it seem like they carried out their required checks on Epstein’s welfare prior to his death. On January 30 2020, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres announced that the two guards’ trial would be moved to June 2020.

We contacted the former mayor’s charity foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, seeking comment on the Epstein group’s 2013 statement. Gawker reported in 2015 that Bloomberg was listed in an address book belonging to Epstein, though the context for that inclusion was unclear.