Billionaire Commencement Speaker Gives UMass Graduates $1000 Each – With a Catch

This year’s commencement ceremony at UMass Dartmouth saw graduating students receive an extremely generous gift, with a catch.

A $1000 Gift

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Graduates at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth received more than they bargained for at their commencement ceremony last week – $1000 more, to be exact. 

Billionaire Appearance

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Billionaire Robert Hale Jr, founder and CEO of telecommunications provider Granite Telecommunications, made an appearance at the ceremony with a literal truckload of cash.

An Unexpected Envelope

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As this year’s graduates crossed the stage to receive their certificates, Hale handed each of them an envelope with $1000 cash enclosed inside. While the students had no idea what was going on, he explained its purpose.

“$1000 Cash Right Now”

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“Each of you is getting $1,000 cash right now,” he said to rapturous screams and applause from the crowd. But he soon explained that the money was split into two separate bundles.

A Gift With a Catch

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“The first $500 is our gift to you,” he said. “The second $500 is for you to give to someone else or an organization that could use it more than you. Share in the joy of the gift of giving.”

The Gift of Giving

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Hale urged each graduate to give $500 to a charity or cause close to their hearts, in a meaningful display of the importance of giving to others. 

A Dual Appearance

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The billionaire philanthropist had arrived at the ceremony, there to receive the Chancellor’s Medal, but had decided to extend a generous gift to all of the departing alumni. 

1200 Attending

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Altogether, he spent $1.2 million in cash for the 1200 students in attendance at Cressy Field, the college football field, where the ceremony was held last Thursday. 

One Meaningful Gesture

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While some might argue that the gift is a drop in the bucket for someone with a reported $5 billion net worth, the graduating students will not be among them. For those 1200, as well as the charities they choose to donate to, it’s an extraordinary gift.

First-Gen Students

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According to a spokesperson for UMass, 40% of this year’s graduates are first-generation students, meaning they are the first in their families to graduate from college. 

Various Minority Backgrounds

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Many of that number also come from less privileged economic backgrounds, and 31% are people of color, the spokesperson added.

Encouraging Them to Persevere

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Hale also gave a commencement speech of his own, urging students to persevere through difficulties and to continue to pass on acts of caring and generosity to the wider community, in the same way that he had.

“We Need Sharing, Caring, and Giving”

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“These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring, and giving,” he told the crowd. “Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever.” 

Not the First Time

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What some may not know is that this is far from the first time Hale has given out such a gift to graduates – he has done it four times at 3 different colleges in the past four years, depending on where he is giving a commencement speech.

Three Lucky Colleges

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The first was at Quincy College, the second at Roxbury Community College, and the third and fourth times were both at UMass. All three schools are located in Hale’s home state of Massachusetts. 

One Organization Already Benefits

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Hale talked to PEOPLE magazine about the donations and even shared that he had already received praise from an organization that received a $500 donation from an unnamed student.

“The Seed of Philanthropy”

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“We wanted to give [the graduates] a real gift to celebrate their perseverance, but also [encourage] giving to an organization or person who could use it to create that seed of philanthropy,” he explained of his and his wife’s decision.

“We Are Getting the Gift”

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“We have had the good fortune to give money, and it feels like we are the ones getting the gift,” he continued. 

Inspired by Covid

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Hale was inspired to commit to the 500/500 commencement gift in 2020, at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The billionaire philanthropist felt the need to address the hardships many students had gone through, and to “celebrate with them.”

“They Weathered the Storm”

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“I told Karen, ‘These kids have been through horrible times.’ They didn’t have classes. They have to sit six feet away, they have to wear masks,” he explained. “It’s a very diverse community with a lot of kids for whom college is a financial hardship. They weathered the storm.”

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The post Billionaire Commencement Speaker Gives UMass Graduates $1000 Each With a Catch first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.



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