LeBron James may have taken his talents to the LA Lakers, but he is leaving something very valuable behind in Ohio: a chance for 240 at-risk third and fourth graders in his hometown of Akron to get a brand new public school designed to help them achieve. James and his LeBron James Family Foundation have partnered with The Akron Public School system to create the IPromise School, which opened its doors on Monday, July 30.
The school, which plans to expand over the next several years to house about 1,000 students grades 1 through 8, has at its core a lot of innovative ideas and “best practices” plans for educating these children, who have fallen behind their peers academically by one or two years. The IPromise School will have a longer school year (to promote year round learning), a longer school day (9am to 5pm), an on-site food bank, and teams of emotional as well as academic support. Each student will receive a bike, as that is how James, a product of the Akron public school system, was able to explore different Akron neighborhoods. You can read more about this fabulous school in this Time magazine article, and you can read more about the LeBron James Family Foundation’s work here.
An important and exciting part of the IPromise School’s “wraparound” support for the children is its focus on the parents and guardians: it will offer them GED classes and job placement assistance. And if the students successfully complete the school program and graduate from high school, James’ foundation will cover their full tuition at the University of Akron.
In his inaugural address at the school on Monday, James reminded the crowd that “we adults have the responsibility not to let these kids down, to continue to be the teachers, the mentors, the parents, the coaches, the inspiration…the superheroes.” Kudos to James for using his resources and position as Basketball Superhero to help these Akron, Ohio parents put on their capes, and to help these students thrive. SO great to see this successful African-American focused on supporting education!!