AKRON, Ohio ― LeBron James isn’t just helping kids afford college. He wants them to stay there and leave with diplomas.
The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, whose foundation announced a partnership with the University of Akron last year to pay for four years of tuition for inner-city public high school graduates who meet certain criteria, has established an institute at the school to assist students.
The I PROMISE Institute will provide resources to support students pursuing four-year degrees. The institute will be constructed in a space inside InfoCision Stadium on campus. It will provide around-the-clock support to students.
“When we first started this program, I wanted my kids to graduate from high school,” James said. “But the more we grow as a foundation, the more we find can be done to give our kids the best chance to be successful. We don’t just want our kids to get to college. We want them to graduate from college. And we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help them do that.”
The first class for the program is currently in eighth grade and will be enrolling at Akron in 2021. James’ foundation has established a board of academics from across the country to establish a curriculum for the institute and determine the best ways to help urban youth stay in school.
“If we want to be ready for our students when they get to campus in a few short years, the work needs to start now,” said Michele Campbell, the foundation’s executive director. “For many of our kids, they are the first in their families to attend college, so we want to create a familiar, encouraging environment where they feel safe and supported.”
Even before the institute is open to college students, it will serve as a center for high school students and their parents as they prepare for the college experience.
On Wednesday, James reiterated his commitment to helping others.
“My foundation is probably, besides my family, the No. 1 thing in my life,” he said. “Being able to change kids and families, giving them an opportunity to see better days, we strive to do that every single day. And I get emails and I talked to my kids weekly about their progression in elementary school all the way to the kids in middle school, high school and the kids that are going to be going to college soon. So, that’s a huge thing for me.”