Billionaire Rob Hale Jr. gifts $1,000 in cash to Quincy College grads

"You have persevered in the pandemic, and you haven’t had a chance to celebrate the last 14 months like you should," said Hale

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A Massachusetts businessman and philanthropist gave each of the 490 graduating students at Quincy College a $1,000 cash gift.

Graduates received two envelopes at Quincy’s May 22 ceremony and each contained $500. Keynote speaker Robert Hale Jr., 54, CEO of Granite Telecommunications, said half the cash was for them and he urged the grads to use the rest to pay it forward, Forbes reported.

“You have persevered in the pandemic, and you haven’t had a chance to celebrate the last 14 months like you should,” Hale said in his address. “And you have seen society and the needs of society grow. We wanted to try to address both of those areas.”

Hale, known for supporting organizations focused on cancer research, said he was “flattered and honored when they asked me to be the commencement speaker several months ago,” according to The Patriot Ledger

“It just seems like these kids haven’t had much reason to celebrate, so I wanted to help them do just that,” Hale added. His $1,000 cash gift was a “heartwarming” surprise for many of the graduates.

“I was completely shocked when he said he was going to give us a gift,” said Beatriz Martins, 23, who graduated with a two-year business degree, according to the report. “I thought it would be a handshake or a pat on the back… I didn’t think it was going to be such a heartwarming and extraordinary gift.”

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Founded in 1958, Quincy is a public school that boasts 5,600 students and 46% are students of color. Many reportedly major in computer science or business. Hale graduated from Connecticut College and his net worth is estimated to be more than $2 billion, according to Forbes

Hale’s family recently pledged $50 million to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where Rob Jr.’s father was a patient until he died in 2008. The donation will support the Hale Family Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research. 

“Our intention is to substantially speed the pace of research and new treatments for this terrible disease,” Hale’s mother Judith Hale, a member of the Dana-Farber Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “We are investing in the exceptional talent at Dana-Farber because we are committed to finding a cure. That would be a wonderful honor for my husband and legacy for our family.”

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In 2018, Hale Jr. and his wife reportedly donated $50 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and $50 million to Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Working in partnership with the Hale Family, we have already made significant progress against pancreatic cancer,” Dana-Farber President and CEO Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher said in a statement. “Yet far too many families are still devastated by this disease.  We share the Hale Family’s bold vision to eradicate pancreatic cancer and save lives, here and around the world. With this incredibly generous, transformational gift, the Hale Family is providing us with an unprecedented opportunity, and responsibility, to do just that.”

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