Mass. Graduates Surprised with Envelopes Containing $1,000 as They Cross Stage

Billionaire Robert Hale told students to try to 'give a little more than you get'


Two thousand undergraduates at UMass Boston received more than just their degrees on Thursday.

Emphasizing the gift of giving, Massachusetts billionaire and philanthropist Robert Hale gave each graduate $1,000 as they collected their diplomas.

The money was split between two envelopes -- one containing $500 intended for them to keep and another holding $500 to give away "to somebody else or another organization who could use it more than you," Hale told the stunned crowd.

"These are turbulent times. You guys have survived. You've prospered," Hale told the graduates, whose freshman year began only months before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Hale and his wife wanted to share in their celebration, he said.

But in explaining his gift to students, Hale, the co-founder and president of Granite Telecommunications, also said the world needs more kindness and caring.

"These trying times have heightened the need to sharing, caring, and giving," he said, encouraging graduates to find charitable ways to spend the money. "Our community and our world need you -- need us -- more than ever."

The announcement came after Hale and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) each delivered keynote addresses to the undergraduate Class of 2023.

In his remarks, Hale encouraged graduates to find ways to give back to others.

"If you give a little more than you get and you take a few chances, don't fear failure -- defy it -- you will have a more fulsome life because of it," he said.

This is not the first time Hale has ponied up to help out college students.

Granite CEO Robert Hale gave $1,000 to each graduate at UMass Boston
Granite CEO Robert Hale gave $1,000 to each graduate at UMass Boston Credit: UMass Boston/Youtube

In 2021, Hale, also a co-owner of the Boston Celtics, made a similar gesture to graduates of Quincy College.

The same year, he and his wife also donated $30 million to Hale's alma mater, Connecticut College, after the couple gave the institution $20 million in 2015.

According to Forbes, Hale has a personal net worth of $5 billion and has donated over $280 million to schools, cancer research, and other causes.

Others' acts of generosity also have benefited graduates in recent years around the country.

Last year, students at Wiley College in Texas had their remaining balances -- a total of $300,000 -- cleared by an anonymous donor, while model Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel, the Snapchat co-founder, paid off student loans for the graduating class at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

And in 2019, billionaire Robert Smith paid off student loans for the graduating class at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

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