All 193 students in the inaugural class of LeBron James’ I PROMISE School in Akron, Ohio have been offered free tuition to attend Kent State University
College is expensive. So expensive that the current student loan debt in the United States is estimated at $1.6 trillion. The financial burden of college makes it difficult for many children to attend a 4-year program, and those who take out loans are often paying them off for the rest of their lives. Basketball star LeBron James wanted to give the inaugural class of his I PROMISE School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, an opportunity that every child deserves — to attend college without the financial burden. All 193 students, currently high school juniors, learned this week that will be able to attend Kent Sate University in Ohio, where they will receive free tuition.
Students were surprised with the exciting news during a college visit to the Ohio university campus. After listening to moving speeches by administrators, students were asked to lean down and pick up envelopes under their seats. As they read the news that their tuition for the entire four years as well as one year of room and board would be covered, their eyes widened and many erupted in cheers.
Thankfully, there were cameras rolling to capture the joy and excitement they experienced when they were informed. Additionally their parents were able to watch the live feed from a separate room, many bursting into tears.
Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley wanted to make sure it was understood that the scholarships are not a gift. “This was earned,” she said, noting how diligently the students applied themselves since becoming part of the first I PROMISE class as third grade students, in a press release. “The efforts of the I PROMISE students are to be celebrated.”
— LeBron James Family Foundation (@LJFamFoundation) February 12, 2020
“We have already seen the impressive results that the I PROMISE Network is having on its participating students,” Tankersley said. “We are so pleased that Kent State will become the next step in the educational journey of these amazing young people, and so happy that we can start them on their way to exciting careers and lives full of inspiration.”
After the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, James explained to reporters that he is grateful to be able to give back.
“We have so many options, and I just know that so many kids in my community just don’t have many options,” he said. “So for me to be able to be in a position where I can give these kids options to decide what they want to do with their future, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done.”
There is only one catch: the students have to get into Kent State. While they will be eligible as college freshmen for the 2021-2022 academic yea, they must fill out an application as well as required financial aid forms, complete a required number of community service hours each semester, and be admitted.
To remain eligible, they will need to continue engaging in community service and complete volunteer hours, remain in good academic standing, and complete a minimum amount of credit hours every year.
“We are so pleased to take our partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to this next level and welcome these students fully into the Kent State family,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “Kent State looks forward to the time when our campus is teeming with I Promise students.”
LeBrown opened the I PROMISE School, a public elementary school supported by the LeBron James Foundation in 2018, admitting some of the city’s students with behavioral problems. His mission? To provide academic, legal, professional, and health support for the children and their families. While some doubted the concept, students immediately flourished. In less than a year, 90 percent of the students met or exceeded their expected growth in math and reading.