Life and Arts

LeBron James: I Promise

Basketball star opens public school

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WHAT IT IS

  • On July 30th, 2018, LeBron James opened the I Promise school.
  • The public elementary school is located in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. [The Washington Post]

  • The I Promise school currently enrolls third and fourth graders and came to be through a collaboration with the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools. [LeBron James Family Foundation]

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  • The I Promise school differs from other local public schools through its “wraparound services.”
  • The goal of the I Promise school is to provide children and families in underprivileged areas of Akron with free education and other vital necessities.

WHY IT MATTERS

 

Celebrity schools are not new. Other famous figures including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Pitbull have opened private and charter schools with their money. I Promise is a public education facility, meaning any family in the area can enroll their children in the STEM certified school for free. [NPR]

THE HOPEFULS

A different approach

For students and families who seek help beyond the classroom, the school offers a free food bank pantry, a bicycle, and helmet for each student, a seven-week summer camp, and full tuition to the city’s local college to those eligible.

 

The school also runs from July to May (only 1 month off for summer break), the school day lasts for 8 hours, and class sizes are capped at 23 students. [The Washington Post]

 

 

Not just for kids

The school also provides an opportunity for parents who did not graduate from high school to earn their GEDs as well as financial aid for housing. [The Los Angeles Times]

 

 

From student to teacher

James’ own experience as a struggling student due to financial issues at home allows him to understand the importance of a stable public school. James' also hopes the I Promise school encourages education reform on Capitol Hill. [The Atlantic]

THE SKEPTICS

Not enough

While James has served as the face of the I Promise school in the media, his contributions of $2 million covers less than half of the institution's total cost. [TIME] Some argue he should give more.

 

 

Long-distance relationship

Some believe the basketball player’s latest career chapter playing for the Los Angeles Lakers could result in less direct involvement for a project that is largely his vision.

 

 

Oversight

Some worry that forming a school curriculum around a heavy STEM focus could lead to gaps in student academic performance from a potential lack of social studies or arts exposure. [The Washington Post]

WHERE WE ARE NOW​​

  • The school year has officially begun for the third and fourth graders enrolled.

  • The school plans to teach kids from first grade through eighth grade by 2022. [LeBron James Family Foundation]

  • Stephen Curry, player for the Golden State Warriors and main rival of the Cavaliers, tweeted his support of the school the day after the announcement. [Twitter, @StephenCurry30]

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Read the "promise" students are asked to pledge.

  • Look through a photo gallery of the I Promise school.

  • How will the I Promise school effect surrounding public schools in Akron?

  • Is this the new model of charity for other celebrities to follow?

Key Vocabulary