LeBron James Launches I PROMISE Program to Help At-Risk Youths Make It Through High School

LeBron James’ I PROMISE school in Akron, Ohio, is slated to open its doors in the fall of 2018. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images)

As part of his ongoing commitment to help students reach their fullest potential, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James on Tuesday, April 11, announced a partnership between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools to create a new I PROMISE school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

Eligible students will be selected via a lottery system to attend the elementary school, which will start with the first grade, Cleveland.com reported.

“We’ve learned over the years what works and what motivates them, and now we can bring all of that together in one place along with the right resources and experts,” James said in a statement. “If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families.”

The three-time NBA champion launched the I PROMISE program in 2011 with the goal of tackling the city’s high school drop-out rate. Each year, APS identifies a group of third-graders who’ve fallen behind academically. Through an expanded curriculum focused on hands-on learning and STEM activities, the I PROMISE program aims to help these students by providing them with the resources, encouragement and mentorship they need to make it to graduation.

In addition, the program sponsors after-school programs, Hometown Halls for local parents and caregivers, and a week full of activities each August to accomplish its goals of aiding at-risk youth. Students who stick with the foundation’s program are promised a full-ride to the University of Akron upon graduation, according to Cleveland. com

“We’ve seen the positive influence of the LeBron James Family Foundation on our students and we look forward to continuing to do everything we can to put our students in a position to be successful,” said David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools.

Details on the new I PROMISE school will continue to be worked out in the coming months, but the learning hub is expected to utilize specialized programming to foster an environment that promotes social-emotional learning. The school will apply a continued focus on both academics and character building, while the University of Akron’s LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education offers support, research and regular assessments for the new institution.

A master plan is slated to be submitted to the Board of Education for approval in October, after committees of local leaders, teacher, parents and other experts come to an agreement on logistics.

Upon approval, the I PROMISE School will open in fall 2018 with newly identified third- and fourth-grade classes, Cleveland.com reported. First- and second-grade classes will be added by 2019, and the school hopes to house students through the eighth grade by 2022.

“We know this is going to be successful,” said Michele Campbell, the foundation’s executive director, “because LeBron James has brought a community of partners, resources and expertise, and with the help of these partners, we’re ready to take this next huge step.”

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