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LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools establish the I PROMISE School

Innovative and family-centered education proposed for some of Akron’s lowest-performing students

The LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) will partner with Akron Public Schools (APS) and a committee of local leaders, educators, parents and experts to design an I PROMISE School (IPS), a new Akron public school.

“This school is so important to me because our vision is to create a place for the kids in Akron who need it most — those that could fall through the cracks if we don’t do something,” said James. “We’ve learned over the years what works and what motivates them, and now we can bring all of that together in one place, along with the right resources and experts. If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families.”

The LJFF is consistently working to find on-the-ground work and research-based interventions to help keep students in school and on track in their educations. The proposed vision for the I PROMISE School is an expansion of curriculum with a STEM, hands-on, problem-solving learning focus infused with LJFF’s “We Are Family” philosophy to create an innovative and supportive learning environment.

A committee will work over the next six months to determine how students will be selected for the school using multiple criteria. The targeted eligible population will be similar to LJFF’s current students: students who are at risk in reading and who are in need of additional academic intervention before falling further behind their peers.

There will also be an intentional effort to engage the entire family to create a supportive environment both in the classroom and at home. In addition, the University of Akron’s LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education is aligned to provide integrated curricular support, research and continuous assessment.

“We are excited about the potential of the I PROMISE School to provide specialized programming and invaluable resources for our students,” said David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools. “We’ve seen the positive influence of the LeBron James Family Foundation on our students, and we look forward to continuing to do everything we can to put our students in a position to be successful.”

Once the planning committees complete their work, they will submit a master plan to the APS Board of Education for approval in October. If approved, the I PROMISE School would open its doors in the fall of 2018 with newly identified third- and fourth-grade classes while adding first and second grades the following year. By 2022, the school will be complete with first through eighth grades. Eligible students will be selected for IPS by a random lottery system.

Founded in 2004, the LeBron James Family Foundation’s mission is to positively affect the lives of children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives. Recognizing the life-changing importance of education, the foundation invests its time, resources and attention in the kids of James’ hometown in Akron, Ohio. Through its Wheels for Education and Akron I PROMISE Network programs, the foundation serves more than 1,100 Akron-area students by providing them with the programs, support and mentors they need for success in school and beyond.

In 2015, James partnered with the University of Akron to guarantee four-year college scholarships to all eligible students who graduate from high school and complete the criteria in the classroom and in the community.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.