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Many consider him the NBA’s GOAT, but one day LeBron James could be known as one of education’s GOATs.
On July 30, James opened his Akron, Ohio-based I Promise School. The non-charter public school, similar to one James attended, will enroll 240 third- and fourth-grade at-risk children. The school plans to grow enrollment to over 1,000 students, reported Business Insider.
To bring the idea to fruition, the LeBron James Foundation worked with the Akron school district as well as 120 stakeholders such as administrators, corporate sponsors, parents, teachers, and volunteers to learn what students from the district needed. This comes as Akron’s public schools are among Ohio’s lowest-performing ones.
The group determined the program would help children develop skills to deal with the trauma seen in day-to-day lives as well as offer a challenging math and science program to advance their educations. The school’s “wraparound” services aim to cut down on stress felt by kids whose families might be struggling financially by offering a food pantry, housing assistance, and job and family services, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The school offers a seven-week summer camp program. Each student can also get a Chromebook to use for homework and a bicycle. The foundation has also taken parents into consideration as the program will enable them to obtain GEDs along with additional continuing education opportunities.
But what may be most interesting is the opportunity these students could have for a college education.
Scholarships for College Education
The kids in the I Promise program will also have an opportunity to receive a full scholarship via the LeBron James Family Foundation, the school’s biggest donor, to the University of Akron. While the program will initially enroll up around 1,300 kids, when it was first announced by the Foundation and James in 2015, the intent was to award scholarships for up to 2,300 kids.
With this number of students ideally qualifying for scholarships, this would represent a large financial commitment by the foundation and James personally as in-state tuition and fees at the University of Akron currently sit at $11,466 annually—or factor by four years and the number is potentially $45,900. Then multiply this by 2,300 kids and scholarships would approximately reach $105 million.
For all the kids to qualify is ambitious. James has confirmed, per Business Insider, that students will have to meet detailed standards to qualify for scholarships, such as a 3.0 GPA upon graduation. Per a James spokesperson, placing a financial figure on the commitment isn’t accurate as tuition cost could vary.
James, who also spent millions of dollars from his own pocket, said of the program to CNN: “We want every kid that walks through this school to be inspired, to come … away with something, something where they can give back. For kids, in general, all they want to know is that someone cares. And when they walk through that door, I hope they know that someone cares.”
Author: Debbie Baratz
Debbie Baratz has written about topics including personal finance, financial markets, and banking. And as a media relations professional, she spent 10+ years working at not-for-profit, private, and publicly-traded financial institutions. When Debbie isn’t working, she can be found working out, reading, or traveling.