LeBron James is giving kids from Akron — ones with challenging backgrounds like his — the chance to go to college for free.
The NBA star has partnered with the University of Akron to provide a guaranteed four-year scholarship to the school for students in James’ “I Promise” program who qualify. The scholarship will cover tuition and the university’s general service fee — currently $9,500 per year. James told ESPN he plans to provide this for 1,100 kids, which would cost his foundation a total of $41.8 million at the school’s current rates.
It’s the latest example of James, who often refers to himself “as just a kid from Akron” giving back to a community that helped raise him.
“It’s the reason I do what I do,” said James, who announced the program Thursday while hosting an event for students at Cedar Point Amusement Park. “These students have big dreams, and I’m happy to do everything I can to help them get there. They’re going to have to earn it, but I’m excited to see what these kids can accomplish knowing that college is in their futures.”
The school and the LeBron James Family Foundation are still finalizing the criteria for the scholarships. The students will have to graduate high school within Akron’s public school system and achieve standard testing requirements as well as fulfill a community service obligation.
James has had a long-standing relationship with the university. As his celebrity soared in high school, James played many game on the school’s campus and the four-time MVP deepened his connection with Akron soon after he turned professional.
“It means so much because, as a kid growing up in the inner city and a lot of African-American kids, you don’t really think past high school,” said James, who bypassed college to jump to the NBA. “You don’t really know your future. You hear high school all the time, and you graduate high school and then you never think past that because either it’s not possible or your family’s not financially stable to even be able to support a kid going to college.” -Lebron James