LeBron James recently announced a $1 million donation to his I Promise School for a new gymnasium, which he said will be more than just a place to shoot baskets.
The school, which he opened in July of 2018, is located in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and he made the announcement on Thursday (May 9) at his alma mater St. Vincent St. Mary High School.
James partnered with the retail juggernauts Dick’s Sporting Goods for the $1 million grant and stated the new gym will be a safe space for children where they can participate in after-school activities.
“To my kids, this is more than a gym,” said the Los Angeles Laker.
“The Dick’s Sports Matter program is helping us provide even more opportunities. An opportunity to play and learn in a safe place that many don’t have access to.”
“I can’t imagine where my friends and I would be if it weren’t for the coaches and teachers who cared about us and the opportunities we had,” he added.
James launched I Promise in partnership with his LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, and each year the district identifies third-graders who’ve fallen behind academically. From there, eligible students are placed in a lottery to determine who will ultimately attend.
The school says it has a 20-to-one student-teacher ratio, and kids attend classes from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They’re also given free breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and programming is year-around.
I Promise has already seen great success too, because last month it was reported that 90 percent of students who fell at least one grade level behind, met or exceeded their scores in reading and math.
The results came after the children took the Measures of Academic Progress testing, and it’s something that former president Barack Obama acknowledged.
“I believe the sky is the limit for these kids and the results we’re seeing are just the beginning,” said James when he spoke of the new gym. “Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation believes in the opportunities and values sports provide, and I’ve experienced that at every level. I saw it growing up with my teammates and I see it with my kids now.”
“The benefits of playing sports can extend to every aspect of your life, and I’m excited we’re able to provide a space for that growth at the I Promise School,” he added.