Having attended St. Mary's College on a basketball scholarship, the 'Moonlight' star decides to give back to the school with funds that will aid students of color or other first-in-family youngsters.

AceShowbiz - Oscar winner Mahershala Ali has donated funds to help launch a new scholarship programme at his alma mater.

The "Moonlight" star was a student at St. Mary's College of California during his youth, attending the school on a basketball scholarship, which granted him the opportunity to earn a degree in mass communication and graduate as part of the Class of 1996.

Mahershala went on to attend a graduate course at New York University before launching a career in acting, and after winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the coming-of-age drama last year (17), he decided to give back to his college, contributing to the $30,000 (£23,400) raised from private donors to establish the Moonlight.

The fund currently provides partial scholarships via the longrunning High Potential Program, designed to aid students of colour or youngsters who are the first in their families to attend college, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Ali was one of the kids whose higher education dreams were achieved with the help of the programme, so cutting a cheque for school officials was his pleasure.

"I was a kid from Hayward (California) who got a solid public education," Ali said. "But Saint Mary's is definitely another level and there was a bit of a bridge to build to make up for what I wasn't prepared for. That's what the High Potential Program does."

Ali previously credited his time at St. Mary's with setting him up for career success, thanks to his professors for constantly pushing him to reach his goals.

"I can confidently say that I would have never gotten there (Hollywood) if it weren't for the guidance and love I received from the professors at Saint Mary's College," he said in 2012.

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