The Weeknd usually makes headlines for his music. Now, he’s making music for his charitable efforts. Even though he has been vocal about dropping out of school, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about education or social issues.
The R&B singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, donated 50,000 Canadian dollars ($38,000) to the University of Toronto to help the school start an Ethiopic Studies program, according to Billboard. However, some reports are saying that he actually gave $50,000 U.S. dollars. The singer’s parents emigrated from Ethiopia to Toronto, Canada, in the 1980s. He took to Twitter to post the links to both the program and the donation page.
“Currently, the lack of resources and knowledge for adequately preserving cultural materials in Ethiopia means our cultural and historical heritage is disappearing at an alarming rate,” reads on the program page. “The Ethiopian studies program at the University of Toronto will play a vital role in teaching Ethiopia’s heritage to consecutive generations of students, in supporting digitization efforts, and to the dissemination of source material to the research community within and outside the University.”
According to the Toronto Star, The Weeknd responded “immediately” to the request from the Bikila Awards Organization. He is actually a former recipient of the Bikila Award, which was created in honor of Ethiopian long distance runner Abebe Bikila. Back in 2014, he received the Professional Excellence Award.
“It’s unbelievable,” Tam Gebeyehu, board member of the Bikila Award, told the Toronto Star. “He grew up in Toronto as an Ethiopian-Canadian, and now he’s giving back to the community.”
In addition, The Weeknd has donated $250,000 to the Black Lives Matter Network, his reps have confirmed to The Fader. The Black Lives Matter Network describes itself as “a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black Life.” There’s also a branch located in The Weeknd’s hometown of Toronto.
Back in early July, shortly after the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, The Weeknd tweeted, “Enough is enough. it’s time to stand up for this now. we can either sit and watch, or do something about it. the time is now. #blacklivesmatter.”
enough is enough. it’s time to stand up for this. we can either sit and watch, or do something about it. the time is now. #blacklivesmatter
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) July 7, 2016
He then followed up with the tweet, “#BLUELIVESMURDER.”
The Weeknd has been dating his girlfriend Bella Hadid for about a year. But, she has made it clear in her Glamour magazine September 2016 cover story that she’s dating Abel Tesfaye and not his stage persona. The 19-year-old model was acted about her personal life inside the pages of the magazine.
“I’m dating Abel. I don’t see him as The Weeknd. I’m proud of The Weeknd and the music he makes, but I really love Abel.”
The couple made their red carpet debut at the 2016 Grammy Awards, according to People. Hadid explained how important that night was for him.
“It was a big night for him. He has worked so hard, and he did so well that night. As a girlfriend I wanted to be there to support him. Seeing him so happy when he won a Grammy made me so happy.”
The Weeknd has shown his support for Hadid as well. He was seen sitting front row as she walked at New York Fashion Week earlier this year. Since then, Hadid and The Weeknd have been spotted on various dates and at basketball games. However, don’t expect them to share cute moments from their relationship on social media. They’re super private when it comes to sharing photos of each other on Instagram.
He previously opened up about their relationship in his interview with Rolling Stone back in 2015. The Weeknd revealed that he had his eye on the model for some time, but only to work with her.
“I actually asked her to be on the artwork for Beauty Behind the Madness. My motive was to work with her. It just kind of fell into my lap. If this had happened two years ago – well….she couldn’t.”
[Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images for Dior]