NBA superstar LeBron James will be providing at least 1,100 kids with scholarships to the University of Akron.
LeBron James, who is a four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion, did not attend college himself because he was drafted right out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. The LeBron James Family Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of those growing up in impoverished situations like his, will be providing the children in the "I Promise" program with a full ride to the college in his hometown. The cost for a single student to go to Akron for four years is about $38,000.
The "I Promise" program consists of students in the Akron public school system. Each year for the last four, 300 third-graders are chosen to join the Wheels for Education program, which provides them with summer and after-school technology experiences. When they enter middle school, they join the larger network of the I Promise program.
More are expected to join, meaning the final number of children who receive scholarships could be as many as 2,300. The total cost to send all current members to UA is about $41.8 million, writes Scott Stump of Today.
James said that these kids, like he was, are in the midst of limited opportunity:
I think it's probably one of the best things I've ever been a part of. This is very special to me. As a kid growing up in the inner city and as an African-American kid, you don't really think past high school because it's not possible or your family can't support you.
The first students in the program will graduate high school in 2021, giving the university and the foundation the next five years to raise funds.
To keep up the scholarship, students will be expected to meet attendance and grade requirements.
According to Paula Schleis of the Beacon Journal, the partnership was announced by James and UA President Scott Scarborough at the I Promise program's "family reunion:" a trip to amusement park Cedar Point for the program's members and their families.
If you are one of LeBron's kidsâ¦ we want to tell you you have a college scholarship waiting for you at the University of Akron when you graduate from high school.
What do you dream to be? Do you dream to be a teacher? A scientist? An engineer or a doctor? This college scholarship is your way to make that happen, and all because that man believes in you.
James hopes to not only provide a brighter, more secure future for the children themselves, but also relieve the financial burden faced by their families.
Tracy Griffin, a single mom with three kids, was interviewed after the announcement. Her ten-year-old daughter Bria is in the I Promise program and dreams of being a pediatrician or veterinarian. Griffin said:
Just to know I don't have to worry about that. The rides are nice, but to suddenly find I'm a parent who doesn't have to worry about their child's future. It's a blessing. I don't want her to struggle like I did.
The school will also be renaming its College of Education after James, writes Lucy McCalmont of the Huffington Post.