Basketball star LeBron James proved he was a hometown hero when he returned from Miami to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. But it is also turns out that James is proving he is a hero off the basketball court as well. Last month, James partnered with the University of Akron to provide four-year scholarships for students in his I PROMISE program. Now, he’s also trying to help disadvantaged parents complete their basic education.
The LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) has partnered with Project Learn of Summit County to launch a program that will help parents get their GED. The I PROMISE, Too program will encompass GED education, life skills, technology and family activities. Parents in the program will also receive a tablet to help with their educational and technological development. Students begin classes in the fall and are expected to graduate in 2016.
James said he was motivated to launch educational programs because he wanted to make an impact that continues after his basketball career is over.
“That’s part of my whole plan,” said James in 2014 interview with the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “From the beginning, when I started to do my foundation work, I wanted to do something that would be sustainable, and not just do ‘one-offs.’ You do something one summer and then it’s over and done with. I wanted to do something that they would be empowered by, that was going to be sustainable, something that would last for generations. “
Alexia Harris, project manager for Project Learn, said students returning to school to get their GEDs need all the support they can get.
“It takes a lot of courage to start classes to earn a GED once you’ve been out of school for years, even decades,” Harris said. “Definitely, things can get in the way of completing the process, things like work or family issues. With the LeBron foundation, we’re working with these parents to be as accommodating as we can, and the incentives can help. The laptops, for instance, that’s a cost to them that they won’t have to bear.”
The LeBron James Family Foundation plays an active role in supporting and mentoring Akron children. LJFF’s Wheels for Education Program and Akron’s “I PROMISE” Network provide mentoring experience and workforce training to more than 1,100 Akron Public School students.
James actively engages children in the program by writing letters and keeping in touch with them through social media. Participants in the program are also eligible for gifts such as computers or cash for groceries. According to federal filings, the LeBron James Family Foundation spent almost $1 million on educational programs last year.
“We are so excited about the I PROMISE, Too program because a huge part of our foundation’s work centers around parent involvement,” said Michele Campbell, executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation. “This is an opportunity to help our parents make strides in their own academic careers so they are better equipped to help our students keep their educational promises. We can’t reach our students without their parents’ support, so this program is monumental for our families and their futures.”
Campbell said the I PROMISE, Too program was a chance for parents to accompany their children on their educational journey.
“This is an opportunity to help our parents make strides in their own academic careers so they are better equipped to help our students keep their educational promises,” Campbell said. “We can’t reach our students without their parents’ support, so this program is monumental for our families and their futures.”