Robert Hale, the founder and CEO of Granite Telecommunications, gave $1,000 each to 2,500 graduate students. But he called on graduates to donate half of the gift, or $500, calling it the “gift of giving.” He is not the only billionaire to donate to students. His gift is unusual in that it went directly to the recipients. Something is loading.
Thanks for recording!
Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed on the go. download app
A billionaire telecommunications magnate gave thousands of graduate students $1,000 each on Thursday – but the money has a catch.
Robert Hale, co-founder and CEO of wholesale telecommunications provider Granite Telecommunications, presented two envelopes totaling that amount to students at the University of Massachusetts Boston at their graduation ceremony.
He then urged them to donate half of the gift, or $500, calling it the “gift of giving”, according to media outlets including NBC Boston.
“There are two sets of envelopes: one says ‘gift’ and the other ‘offer’. The first is for you, the ‘gift’ is for you. The ‘give’ is also for you, but it’s is for giving,” Hale said, according to NBC’s report.
—NBC10 Boston (@NBC10Boston) May 26, 2023
CBS News video from the event shows shocked graduates cheering as workers pull stacks of envelopes from bags after Hale’s announcement.
Since there were 2,500 students in the undergraduate cohort at the start, the donations amounted to $2.5 million for Hale – which is just a small dent in his $5 billion fortune. , according to Forbes’ estimate.
Hale, 56, made his fortune from privately held Granite, where he has a 70% stake, Forbes reported in an October 2022 profile. The telecommunications company has generated more than $1.6 billion in revenue in 2021 and holds no long-term debt, according to the publication.
This isn’t the first time Hale has made such a surprise.
In May 2022, Hale donated $1,000 each to 150 graduates of Roxbury Community College in Boston, per NBC Boston.
In 2021, he also gave $1,000 to 490 Quincy College graduates in Massachusetts. He also told the students to donate half the amount. It is unclear whether the donations were tracked.
Hale’s cash donation could help freshly graduated graduates entering the workforce amid high US inflation that hit 4.9% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to UMass Boston’s Office of the Bursar, undergraduates in the state pay more than $15,000 in fees per year.
US student loan debt has also increased massively over the years, collectively reaching $1.73 trillion in 2021 from $925 billion in 2011, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, citing data from the Federal Bank of St Louis.
Hale isn’t the only billionaire to donate to students recently, though his donation is unusual in that it went directly to the recipients.
Billionaires typically donate to the colleges themselves, as in the case of hedge fund Citadel founder Ken Griffin, who gave Miami Dade College $20 million to launch a new scholarship in April.
Hale and his wife Karen are active philanthropists, donating about $1 million each week in 2022 to 52 nonprofits, Forbes reported in October 2022.
Hale did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent via Granite Telecommunications outside of normal business hours.