When LeBron James opened up his I Promise School last year in Akron, Ohio, to help at-risk students, there was still a housing need for many of the children and their families. And it’s something that’s since been addressed in a major way.
Because the school is now working with Graduate Hotels’ CEO Ben Weprin to provide temporary housing for some of those families. Weprin, who visited I Promise in May, partnered with the school to purchase a historical building in Akron where more than 20 units will be renovated.
The residence, which is called the I Promise Village, is within walking distance of the school, and the executive director of I Promise explained why proper housing goes hand in hand with education when it comes to the student’s success.
“Some are homeless, some live in shelters, and we have a student who was the victim of a gun invasion in their home and watched his brother get shot and a cousin get shot and die and he had to go back in that home,” Michele Campbell told USA Today.
The building will be fully opened in July 2020, but Campbell said she’ll move in at least one family who’s in desperate need as early as January. And she’ll do it while construction in other parts of the property are still going on. The school will work with families to secure permanent housing as well.
“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,” said James in a statement.
“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,” he added.
The I Promise School currently has 343 students in the third, fourth and fifth grades, and it’ll open up to eighth graders by 2022.
News of the Akron residence comes shortly after it was reported that James donated 800 pairs of his LeBron 16 sneakers to I Promise Students. Before that, he announced a $1 million donation for a new gymnasium that comes from a partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods.
And earlier this year, it was reported that 90 percent of the I Promise students who were at least one grade level behind, either met or surpassed goals in reading and math on the Measures of Academic Progress Test.