Some people call LeBron James the GOAT for his prowess on the basketball court. Others say it’s his work in the community that really makes him the greatest of all time.
Residents in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, experienced that work firsthand this week, when his “I Promise” school opened its doors to 240 at-risk third- and fourth-graders.
The school, a project of the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, provides students with a slew of awesome perks.
According to James, in addition to attending a school run by The King, students will also receive:
- Free tuition
- Free uniforms
- Free breakfast, lunch and snacks
- Free transportation within 2 miles
- A free bicycle and helmet
- Access to a food pantry for their family
- Guaranteed tuition for all graduates to the University of Akron
What’s more, parents of students will receive access to job placement services and help acquiring their GEDs.
The school’s curriculum was crafted with the help of Akron County educators, who say they’ve long seen their students underperforming in the classroom. There will be a focus on hands-on STEM education, with an emphasis on developing problem-solving skills, according to the foundation website.
Students will also have a later start time for school days and more staggered breaks in order to promote year-round education.
Although the school is currently open only to third- and fourth-grade students, classes will expand from first to eighth grade by 2022, James told CNN.
In a tweet Sunday, the day before opening, James said the school’s first day would be one of the greatest – if not the greatest – moments in his life.
“The jitters before the first day of school are real right now!!! Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life when we open the #IPROMISE School. This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams…,” he wrote.
Several public figures praised James for his work, including former first lady Michelle Obama, who called him “a role model on and off the court.”
James, who has given millions to the project, told CNN, “We want every kid to walk through this school to be inspired, to come … away with something. Something where they can give back.”
The three-time NBA champion has become increasingly active in social issues in recent years, often speaking out against instances of racism and other forms of inequality. He said that for him, this school is an opportunity to create change.
“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,” he said.