The Weeknd Donates $50,000 to U of T for Ethiopic Studies Program

BY Alex HudsonPublished Aug 8, 2016

Toronto soul-pop superstar the Weeknd is the son of Ethiopian immigrants, and he's now celebrating his roots by donating $50,000 to the University of Toronto to start an Ethiopic Studies program.

The Toronto Star reports that the singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, donated the money after a request from the Ethiopian-Canadian organization Bikila Award. U of T professor Michael Gervers had previously pledged to contribute $50,000 if the university and/or Ethiopian community could match that donation, and evidently Tesfaye rose to the challenge.

Bikila Award board member Tam Gebeyehu told the Star, "It's unbelievable. He grew up in Toronto as an Ethiopian-Canadian, and now he's giving back to the community." Gebeyehu added, "His donation helps us preserve our culture and share it with everyone else."

The cheque was presented on Saturday (August 6) at the Bikila Barefoot Challenge at U of T. All told, more that $170,000 has been raised for the program.

The Weeknd shared a couple of tweets about the Ethiopic Studies program:
U of T will reportedly be launching a course on Ge'ez — a script used for several Ethiopian languages — within a year.

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