A 3-time NBA Champion, 3-time NBA Finals MVP, and 4-time NBA MVP, LeBron James is no slacker. In fact, he’s been in the spotlight for over fifteen years as “the next big thing” and then an NBA superstar. The comparisons to Michael Jordan have been in full swing for over a decade, yet James has continued to impress both with his ability on and off the court. This past week however, he made the largest impact yet, with the opening of the I Promise School. It opened the first week of August in Akron, Ohio, as a joint effort between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools. Its objective is to educate at-risk youth in Akron and identify those who have fallen behind in school and help accelerate their learning.
The school will have a longer school day and school year, and those students that complete the school’s program will get tuition provided by James at the University of Akron, beginning in 2021. Services are available for students, to help them cope with stress as it relates to parents who are struggling to make ends meet. In addition, there are activities to prevent the kids from having too much idle time and potentially getting into trouble.
The school also provides services to families, including job placement assistance for parents and an on-site food bank that will allow parents to pick out foods they can prepare at home. Finally, James credits his bicycle as a huge factor in his childhood that gave him an escape from dangerous parts of his neighborhood and the freedom to explore – every student will receive a bicycle when they arrive.
James recently went on CNN and explained that sports is a unifier… it’s what allowed all athletes to get to their place in life. He believes that his peers owe it to future generations to pay it forward and provide resources to those at-risk. James has always been a philanthropist, especially to his hometown of Akron. It will be interesting to see how the school operates, as potentially 50-75% of it will be publicly funded, as it is a part of the public-school system. Interestingly enough, most schools that are started by celebrities are charter schools or private ones. One thing is for sure – James will always have the students’ best interests at heart.