LeBron James was in Akron this week opening his long fabled elementary school for at-risk youth. You may have seen this image circulating social media platforms:
Mr. James is not privately sponsoring a charter school as many of his wealthy forbears have done in the past. No, he is creating a new public school in the Akron school system that will act as the 29th elementary school in the Akron Public School District. This is breaking the mold of “giving back” and implanting himself in his community as a beacon for positive change. LeBron is not leaving a donation to be (possibly poorly) allocated by a state education board.
At the I Promise School, students are provided with:
- Free Breakfast & Lunch
- Free tuition
- Free transportation within 2 miles
- Food Pantry for families
- GED & Job Placement support for parents
- Free Bicycle and Helmet
- Teachers have benefits as well:
- Weekly meetings with psychologists
- Options for free personal training
Mr. James’s actions are reparative to communities that have long been in need of support. Do any of us think that this kind of help would be achieved with a million dollar donation to a school district?
In an age when sports are being politicized, it’s refreshing to see something so pure, so wholesome, so generous being done to “pay-it-forward.” This is a trendsetting move that pays dividends, not just from this school year, not just from eight years down the line when some of these children enroll in UAkron tuition-free, but for the indefinite future. This is a revolution and LeBron James, a man without a college-degree, is securing Akron’s culture for many years to come.
Also, in this being a community involvement project, I don’t hesitate to believe that construction workers and anyone who works on the I Promise School was treated with respect and paid on-time and adequately.
By wedging itself into the public sector, the “I Promise” model becomes the new philanthropic form for professional athletes.