LeBron James is taking a huge stake in the future of his hometown, announcing this week that he’ll personally fund scholarships for 1,100 low-income kids to go to college.
On Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers star announced that his LeBron James Family Foundation will pay for scholarships for all of the kids currently in his I Promise program. The program helps kids in grades three through seven, and as long as they meet attendance and grade requirements, they’ll have all of their tuition covered by the foundation for the University of Akron.
The University of Akron, which is also involved in the program, will be renaming its College of Education for LeBron’s foundation.
“I think it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever been apart of,” James told ESPN of the program. “This is very special to me. As a kid growing up in the inner city and as an African American kid, you don’t really think past high school because it’s not possible or your family can’t support you. For us to be able to do something like this… it means so much.”
“It’s the reason I do what I do,” he added. “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.”
With tuition at the University of Akron running $9,500, SB Nation calculated that LeBron James is making a giant investment.
“Oh and we also did some math: 1,100 kids x $9,500 x 4 years = $41.8 million. That’s two seasons with the Cavaliers basically!”
And that’s not including how much tuition will rise between now and 2021, when the program begins.
LeBron announced the initiative at the I Promise program’s annual “family reunion,” a gathering for nearly 5,000 students and family members, Ohio.com reported.
“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,” University of Akron president Scott Scarborough said to deafening 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 as he nodded toward LeBron.
LeBron James said he was inspired to start the program after growing up in inner-city Akron, where he said many students simply didn’t view college as an option for them. He wants to change that, saying, “kids need to see a finish line.”
[Picture by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]