Monday was an iconic moment for LeBron James as he launched the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, effectively opening the doors of opportunity to underprivileged kids in the community.
Through his LeBron James Family Foundation and the Akron Public Schools, the current Los Angeles Lakers forward who was born in Akron, achieved a dream that had been in the works for about a decade.
The I Promise School will focus on helping kids with challenging backgrounds who were struggling with their studies to meet their academic goals. By running an academic session longer than the typical school schedule, and addressing non-academic factors that could hinder development, the school hopes to bring its kids up to speed to enable them be at par with their peers. Parents of the school’s kids will also be able to benefit from the program through job placement assistance and an on-site food bank that enables families to access healthy food resources to prepare meals in their homes.
The school’s principal, Brandi Davis, explained the distinguishing appeals of the I Promise School from a regular school:
“I think the missing link in public education is that family wraparound support. Because our students come to school and they’re worried about things at home. We want to create that safe, that secure and that caring and loving environment for our families and our students so that our kids can focus on education.”
James understands these kinds of challenges that kids go through, having been affected as a little kid growing up in Akron where he once missed 83 days of school due to the inability of his mother to provide resources to enable him attend school consistently.
The jitters before the first day of school are real right now!!! Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life when we open the #IPROMISE School. This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams… https://t.co/PwmRaHRfng
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 29, 2018
James’ turnaround moment, however, came in 1993 when Frank and Pam Walker opened their doors to him and took him in their home, enabling him to focus on his studies around his fourth grade. Using that experience, and the assistance he got from the Walker family, James now hopes many more children can benefit from his own philanthropy by donating millions to the project through his LeBron James Family Foundation and pulling support from institutional sponsors.
The I Promise School, which began classes for kids on Monday, started with two grades – third and fourth, and will gradually expand into other grades as the years go by.