NBA star Kyrie Irving is paying it forward by investing in the futures of HBCU students. According to Forbes, the Brooklyn Nets point guard recently covered tuition costs for students at Lincoln University.
Students who attend historically Black colleges and universities are disproportionately impacted by the student debt crisis. According to a study conducted by the United Negro College Fund, HBCU students borrow loans at higher rates, have higher levels of unmet financial needs and graduate with higher debt than students at non-HBCUs. Cognizant of the financial burdens faced by HBCU students, Irving was determined to step up and provide support. The generous gift was distributed amongst nine seniors attending the Pennsylvania-based institution. The donation was made through the K.A.I. Family Foundation; a nonprofit organization founded by Irving designed to empower youth from underserved communities through education and combat food insecurity.
He surprised the students with the news during a virtual call. “I’m grateful for all you young leaders,” he said. “I wouldn’t be sitting in my position and embracing who I am without knowing where I come from and people helping me along the way, so just paying it forward. I’ve committed to my service a long time ago and I’m walking the steps now and I want the same for others.”
Paying the tuition costs for the Lincoln University seniors is one of many philanthropic efforts that Irving has led in recent months. Amid the pandemic, he donated $323,000 to Feeding America and provided 250,000 meals for New York residents through City Harvest. “Seeing the effects of COVID-19 reach our loved ones, our schools, our jobs, and access to food has really impacted me,” he wrote in an Instagram post about the donation. He also committed $1.5 million to supplement the salaries of WNBA players who opted out of playing to focus on spreading awareness about systemic injustice.