Billionaire philanthropist surprises UMass Dartmouth graduates with US$1,000 cash gifts

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Photo credit AP News/Karl Christoff Dominey.

21st May 2024 – (Massachusetts) During the commencement ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, billionaire philanthropist Rob Hale stunned the graduating class with an unexpected gesture. Amid the rain-soaked event, Hale revealed a nearby truck filled with envelopes stuffed with cash.

As the graduates, huddled under ponchos and umbrellas, looked on in awe, Hale announced that he would be showering them with money. Security guards proceeded to bring the cash-filled duffel bags onto the stage.

Addressing the students, Hale stated that each of them would receive $1,000, but with a condition: they were to keep $500 for themselves and give away the remaining sum.

Hale emphasised that he and his wife, Karen, found tremendous joy in the act of giving and wanted to impart that sentiment to the graduates. He stressed the importance of sharing, caring, and generosity, particularly in these challenging times.

The founder and CEO of Granite Telecommunications, Hale boasts a net worth of approximately $5.4 billion, according to Forbes. He also holds a minority stake in the Boston Celtics.

This isn’t the first time Hale has made such a generous gesture. In previous years, he gifted graduating students at UMass Boston, Roxbury Community College, and Quincy College with similar cash presents. However, the UMass Dartmouth students had no prior knowledge that Hale would be speaking, let alone distributing money.

Joshua Bernadin, a chemistry graduate, expressed his surprise and happiness upon receiving the unexpected gift. While he contemplates how to spend his $500 share, he plans to donate the remaining $500 to the university’s theater company and gospel choir, organizations he was involved with during his time as a student.

Hale acknowledged that some graduates who did not attend the ceremony would miss out on the cash gift. However, he stressed the importance of showing up and being present for such significant events.

The philanthropist shared that local elementary schools personalize the envelopes given to each student, with one envelope labelled “Gift” and the other labelled “Give,” each containing $500. Although there is no way to enforce the donation, Hale believes that the majority of students will do the right thing and experience the joy that comes from giving.

Hale’s tradition of cash giveaways began during the pandemic when students had limited reasons to celebrate. The impact of their generosity has been significant, benefiting struggling local organisations and families who were suddenly able to afford Christmas gifts.