LeBron James to Provide Full Scholarships for Akron Youth

by August 14, 2015

Yesterday, LeBron James and his non-profit foundation announced their plan to give full scholarships to kids in James’ I PROMISE Network upon their graduation from high school in 2021. James wants to fully fund his kids through four years at the University of Akron, to give them an opportunity beyond high school they may have never considered an option before. Via Akron Beacon Journal:

The LeBron James Family Foundation and the University of Akron could be putting as many as 2,300 Akron kids through college in a new partnership announced Thursday.


James and UA President Scott Scarborough revealed the next evolution in the foundation’s I PROMISE program at the organization’s annual “family reunion” — this year a Cedar Point excursion for nearly 5,000 students and family members.


The Akron contingent — a sea of green in identical “We Are Family” T-shirts — slipped away from the roller coasters in the late afternoon to gather at a stage outside the park to hear the news.


“If you are one of LeBron’s kids … we want to tell you you have a college scholarship waiting for you at the University of Akron when you graduate from high school,” Scarborough said before being drowned out by cheers.


“What do you dream to be? Do you dream to be a teacher? A scientist? An engineer or a doctor? This college scholarship is your way to make that happen, and all because that man believes in you,” Scarborough said with a nod toward James.


“This is one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of,” James said in a news conference after the staged event, which included the UA marching band and fireworks. Growing up in Akron’s inner city, he said he knows “kids don’t really grow up thinking beyond high school.”


College isn’t a realistic future for many, he said, and “kids need to see a finish line.”


Scarborough said UA will work with the foundation over the next five years to raise the money to cover the tuition and general fees for the first recipients, who will be graduating from high school in 2021.


As a fallback, UA will prioritize its regular financial-aid program to make sure the free college promise is kept, but Scarborough said he is confident fundraising efforts will meet most of the demand.


In each of the last four years, the foundation has selected about 300 third-graders attending Akron Public Schools to enter its Wheels for Education program, which provides summer technology camp experiences, after-school activities and mentorship opportunities. As those students enter middle school, they are moved to the foundation’s Akron I PROMISE Network, where they remain through high school.


Students eligible for the free four-year scholarships include about 1,100 students currently in those programs, as well as an estimated 1,200 expected to be added over the next four years. Scarborough said he hopes the “renewable partnership” will go beyond even that.


Scholarship recipients will be expected to meet grade-point average, attendance and other standards that are yet to be determined, Scarborough said. A committee will meet to draft the guidelines.


“Our goal is to make it reasonable, to make it a level that these kids have a good chance of succeeding when they come to the University of Akron,” Scarborough said. “The more students who get there, the better.”


He estimated a four-year scholarship is valued at $38,000.