The Weeknd is giving back to a cause close to his heart. The singer, born Abel Tesfaye, has donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto in support of its Ethiopian Studies program. The Toronto native's parents emigrated from Ethiopia to Canada in the 1980s and he has spoken in the past about the impact his culture has had on his music.
The GRAMMY winner's family made the donation in his absence at a fundraising event on Sunday (Aug. 7) at the university's Varsity Stadium. The much needed funding is part of a larger call to action made by Professor Michael Gervers, who promised to donate $50,000 of his own money to further Ethiopic studies. The Weeknd was inspired to help the campaign after the Toronto-based non-profit Ethiopian group Bikila Award put a call out for assistance.
The 26-year-old has a longstanding relationship with the organization after being named the recipient of its Professional Excellence Award in 2014. "His donation helps us preserve our culture and share it with everyone else,” board member Tam Gebeyehu told the Toronto Star.
Speaking with CBC, Tim Harrison, chair of the university's Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations department, revealed that The Weeknd's generous donation will support an ancient Ethiopian language course to be offered in January.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) August 6, 2016
Now, the singer is using his platform on social media to encourage others to support the program. On Aug. 6 he asked his nearly four million followers on Twitter to check out the campaign and help if they can.