NBA Awards LeBron James 'Community Assist'

LeBron James Awarded for his Commitment
Posted on 11/12/2018
(Lindsay Geller for A Plus)

On Thursday, October 25, LeBron James received the NBA Cares Off-season Community Assist Award for his part in opening the LeBron James Family Foundation's I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. 

The three-time NBA champion, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, designed the school to serve at-risk children by providing free uniforms, meals, busing, supplies, bicycles and helmets and even guaranteed tuition to The University of Akron to every student who graduates.

"Kaiser Permanente and the NBA are honoring James for his commitment to creating long-term, generational change throughout Northeast Ohio by providing both youth and their parents with year-round educational and wellness resources," the NBA said in a statement. As part of the award, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 to the LeBron James Family Foundation on his behalf. It is unknown what the donation will be used for, but it's possible it will go toward plans for the school's expansion.

The I Promise School first opened its doors on July 30 as part of the foundation's I Promise program, with the goal of improving graduation rates among local youth. Part of the Akron public school system, the elementary school welcomed more than 240 third- and fourth-grade students this summer. 

James aims to give the I Promise students the support and resources he felt lucky enough to receive as a kid. In a July interview with ESPN, he explained his personal connection to the elementary school's mission. "Growing up in the inner city, the numbers are always stacked up against you. So you didn't really know what was possible. I think what happened for me was that I got some mentors and little league coaches and some teachers who I kind of started to believe in. And they started to make my dreams feel like they could actually become a reality," he said. "So I feel like this is the point where we can kind of get into the minds of the kids and let them know that we're here for them. And I think that's what kids ultimately want, they just want someone to feel like someone cares about them. And that's what we're trying to do here."

In addition to the services geared directly toward the students, the I Promise School also provides onsite assistance to parents and families, including GED classes, job placement services, counseling, legal support and a food pantry. 

Taking a holistic approach to education, the I Promise program offers a new opportunity for the Akron community to come together. 

"To be able to create a place where they're excited about going to school and where they feel safe and supported — that changes everything for them," James said, according to NBA Cares. "And for my foundation, this is just the beginning for the I Promise School. We're still building and will continue to do everything we can to help these families with the challenges they face every day."
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