Startup transforming community colleges receives $29 million in funding from Shaquille O’Neal

BY Ben Ebuka Oji February 7, 2024 6:46 AM EDT
Tade Oyerinde and Shaquille O'Neal
Tade Oyerinde (the Chancellor of Campus) and Shaquille O'Neal. Photo Credit: Campus

Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal is venturing into a new arena by making a significant $29 million investment in Campus, a startup committed to transforming community college education.

Campus, established by Tade Oyerinde, a 29-year-old entrepreneur, aims to address the issue encountered by community colleges, where the graduation rate is less than 40%. O’Neal, highlighting his discontent with this figure, stressed that his investment in Campus is driven by a passion to make a difference in people’s lives rather than solely pursuing immense financial gains.

“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.”

The accredited community college has over 726 students and is currently implementing creative methods to improve the quality of education. Additionally, it offers crucial resources to students enrolled in its online business administration program, including complimentary laptops, internet access, and a personal success coach. Campus also provides associate degrees in paralegal studies and AWS cloud administration.

Campus collaborates with professors from prestigious institutions like Vanderbilt, Princeton, and New York University to deliver synchronous classes.

O’Neal’s significant contribution to Campus signifies his commitment to equipping students with the necessary resources for success. By doing so, he is creating abundant prospects for the next generation, enhancing the American education system, and aligning with a venture that is working to revolutionize community college education.

O’Neal is delighted at the youthful presence of Campus founder Oyerinde, and he is hopeful about their collaboration. He drew a parallel between their partnership and his legendary on-court bond with Kobe Bryant, affirming, “He’s gonna be Kobe and I’m gonna be Shaq, and we are going to knock this thing out of the park.”

“Today, I am excited to announce our newest Campus investor and partner, NBA legend, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, Dr. Shaquille O’Neal. When we met and he shared his life story with me, it was almost immediately obvious that his values aligned with our mission of maximizing access to world-class education. We also had a lot of fun, and we both got excited about the chance to bring him onto the investor team. As a partner, Shaq brings his enormous influence and his belief that education has the power to help people build the lives that they want,” said Tade.

Other investors include OpenAI founder Sam Altman, Discord founder Jason Citron, Bloomberg Ventures, Rethink Education, Reach Capital, and others.

“These entrepreneurs and investors support our vision for the future of American higher education and joined the investor team to help fuel our next phase of growth,” said Tade.

In addition to his legendary status as an athlete, O’Neal is also highly educated. He hold a Ed,. D., an education doctoral qualification from Barry University which he attained in 2012.