Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal is no stranger to success. Now, he’s helping community college students make the grade by investing in a $29 million startup called Campus.
Campus aims to solve a problem common among community colleges, which are supposed to provide a pathway for students to transfer to a four-year college or jump-start their career. In reality, fewer than 40% of students graduate, writes Fortune Education’s Preston Fore, and O’Neal thinks this statistic is unacceptable.
He told Fortune that he chose to invest in Campus, started by 29-year-old entrepreneur Tade Oyerinde, to change people’s lives, not to get sky-high returns—and he had some unusual inspiration.
“I heard Jeff Bezos say, if you invest in things that’s going to change people’s lives, you’ll always get a great return on your investment,” O’Neal told Fortune. “But this particular investment is not about great return because I feel that everyone should have access to world-class education.”
O’Neal is joined by other important CEOs, including OpenAI’s Sam Altman and Discord’s Jason Citron, in supporting Campus, which already boasts 726 students.
The accredited community college brings in professors from universities such as Vanderbilt, Princeton, and New York University to teach synchronous classes. It gives students in its nationally-offered online business administration program a free laptop, free internet, and a success coach. Campus also offers associate degrees in paralegal studies and AWS cloud administration.
O’Neal was surprised by how young Campus founder and chancellor Oyerinde is but predicted that together the two will be a dynamic duo in the field of education.
“He’s gonna be Kobe and I’m gonna be Shaq, and we are going to knock this thing out of the park,” O’Neal says.
Preston Fore contributed reporting.