NBA superstar LeBron James opened his first elementary school for at-risk students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio on Monday, July 30. "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 father-of-3 said at a press conference in the school's temporary building on Monday, July 30.
The school serves 240 of Akron's most academically challenged students. The students were chosen from a random pool of underachieving 3rd and 4th graders with the lowest marks on aptitude tests.
Akron's biggest success story missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade. LeBron's dream is to give the children something he never had growing up: a quality education and to know that someone cares.
“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,” he said.
The I Promise school is part of Akron Public Schools. The district paid $2.9 million out of its general fund for the landscaping, furniture, teacher's salaries, books, and other essentials. The LeBron James Family foundation pays for everything else, including 4 extra teachers to allow for smaller classrooms.
The school is housed in a temporary building owned by the district. The walls are lined with LeBron's game worn shoes and inspirational quotes by LeBron.
LeBron tapped educator Brandi Davis to be the school's first principal. By 2022, the school will have 1,000 students in 1st through eighth grades.
The students, who began their first day on Monday, were given clothing, jackets, bicycles, helmets, as well as free breakfast, lunch and snacks. And a food pantry is set up in the school for children who don't have enough food at home.
Students who live over 2 miles away get free transportation to and from school.
If the students graduate, a college education awaits them at the University of Akron.
Education begins at home, so the students' parents are offered job placement and the opportunity to continue their education or earn their high school diplomas, ESPN reports.
“We want every kid who walks through this school to be inspired,” James told CNN. “To come away with something. Something where they can give back and it doesn’t matter -- it could be anything, but just for kids, in general, all they want to know is that someone cares. And when they walk through that door, I hope they know that someone cares.”
WATCH: NBA star LeBron James’ I Promise school opened yesterday. James and his foundation opened the Ohio school for at-risk third and fourth graders in his hometown, calling it one of the best moments of his life. @lesterholtnbc has the details. #ipromiseschool #lebronjames #nba #school #education #akron #ohio
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