Aug 08, 2016 06:45 AM EDT
The Weeknd Gives $50,000 To Fund Ethiopic Studies Program
The Weeknd has donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to help its Ethiopic studies program kick off. The Scarborough native, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, is of Ethiopian descent.
The Toronto Star reported that "Can't Feel My Face" singer "immediately" answered the call from the Bikila Awards organization. The organization was surprised with the generous donation since they weren't even sure if he would respond to their request.
The Bikila Award is named after Ethiopian Olympic hero Abebe Bikila. In the 1960s, he was able to win two gold medals after running barefoot in the marathon. The organization was created with the aim of fostering academic, professional and business excellence. It also aims to promote volunteerism among Ethiopian-Canadians.
"It's unbelievable," Tam Gebeyehu, board member of the Bikila Award told the publication. "He grew up in Toronto as an Ethiopian-Canadian, and now he's giving back to the community."
The Weeknd's donation came after University of Toronto professor Michael Gervers, from the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, promised to donate $50,000 from his own pockets. The condition was that the university and the Ethiopian community would need to match the contribution.
The organization reached out to The Weeknd. The singer was previously given the Professional Excellence Award by the Bikila Award in 2014.
"Back then he was doing a lot of stuff, but was still a boy from Scarborough just rising to fame," Gebeyehu added. "His donation helps us preserve our culture and share it with everyone else."
The singer took to Twitter to share about the project, saying that he is proud to support the Ethiopic studies program that shows the "brilliant and ancient history of Ethiopia." He also shared links for more information on the program as well as the link to donate.
According to Complex, the first course in the program will be about the study of the ancient Ethiopian language. It is set to launch within a year.
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