August 9, 2016 4:13 pm

The Weeknd donates 50K to University of Toronto for Ethiopic Studies program

The Weeknd attends the "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, has donated $50,000 to help establish an Ethiopic studies program at the University of Toronto.

The two-time Grammy award-winning R&B singer is the son of Ethiopian immigrants.

The move was organized by the same group behind the Bikila Award, which “foster[s] academic, professional and business excellence and promote[s] volunteerism among persons of Ethiopian origin,” according to their website.

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Tesfaye’s donation came about once U of T professor Michael Gervers, of the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, pledged to donate $50,000 of his own money if the university and the Ethiopian community could match the contribution.

Looking for donors, the group reached out to The Weeknd wondering if they’d even get a response, but Tam Gebeyehu of the Bikila Awards organization said he had no idea that the singer would respond so quickly.

“It’s unbelievable,” Tam Gebeyehu told the Star. “He grew up in Toronto as an Ethiopian-Canadian, and now he’s giving back to the community.”

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According to the Star, money will go toward a course on Ge’ez, the ancient language of Ethiopia that’s sometimes referred to as Ethiopic.

The goals of the program, according to the website asking for donations, is to “disseminate to the larger world, through research and education, the unique contributions of the Ethiopian cultural heritage in art, literature and languages.”

The Toronto native tweeted about the new program and included a link for fans to offer additional donations.

In 2014, Bikila Award presented The Weeknd with the Professional Excellence Award for his outstanding achievement as a singer/songwriter and pursuing his dream in music.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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