This the mission goal displayed on the website of LeBron James’ I Promise school’s website. Opening in 2018, the school currently has students attending grades three and four, with the aim of being fully-operational by 2022, teaching grades one through eight. The school is designed to educate and help at-risk youth in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio. The aim is to positively influence children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives. The school is dedicated to not only helping the students that attend it but also focus on helping the family as well of each student. Utilizing their Family Resource Center and the school’s “family plan”, the school works with the families of the students to ensure a stable and healthy home environment.
This kind of home environment was important for James to include as part of the school’s work. Growing up in Akron, James faced a hard childhood with a tumultuous home life. With a mother who had a hard time finding a permanent job, James ended up moving quite frequently throughout his childhood, missing several days of school at a time, including 83 days during fourth grade. In a video that he posted on Twitter, James said the following:
“Everything they’re going through as kids I know and for me to be in a position where I have the resources, the finances, the people, the structure, and the city around me, why not?”
The LeBron James Foundation is also funding quite a bit more beyond just the walls of the school, providing the children with school uniforms, food for families, career placement services, bikes and helmets for each student, transportation for qualified individuals, and GED’s and job placement services for parents. In addition to this, students who graduate with a 3.0 GPA, can receive free tuition to the University of Akron, granted through the “Akron I Promise Network Scholarship” that was developed between the University of Akron, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase in 2015.
And now, just recently, the school has received safe housing for students at the school to live while they receive their education, named the I Promise Village. Taking a historic apartment building in Akron, renovations will be performed on the building to offer struggling families a place to live. In a statement in regards to the new housing facilities, James had this to say:
“Initially, our work was focused on helping these kids earn an education. But we’ve found that it is impossible to help them learn if they are struggling to survive — if they are hungry, if they have no heat in the freezing winter, if they live in fear for their safety… We want this place to be their home where they feel safe, supported, and loved, knowing we are right there with them every step of the way as they get back on their feet.”
The renovations are being worked on with Graduate Hotels, a hotel company that operates boutique hotels in college towns across the country. Graduate will be in charge of the renovations and will donate the finished building to the school when the work is done. Currently, at 22 units in the building, the housing facility is aimed to be operational in July when the next school year starts.
While James has faced his share of controversy in recent months with his response to the NBA’s controversy with China, work like this does a lot to show us that he is still trying to do some good work in the world. Whether or not you agree with his actions over the NBA/China issues, we can’t ignore the fact that he is offering this children a positive influence that they may never have had otherwise. We hope to see work like this continue throughout the country and the world, and we hope to see those who can help take action to do so.