Basketball superstar LeBron James plans to open a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, for students at risk of falling behind in academics.
The I Promise School will open for elementary students in the fall of 2018 with support from James’ family foundation, according to plans revealed on Tuesday. It plans classes for students in third and fourth grades during its first year, and will expand to include grades 1 though 8 by 2022.
The school will draw students who “are at-risk in reading and who are in need of additional academic intervention before falling further behind their peers,” the LeBron James Family Foundation said in a statement.
James, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star forward, was raised by a single mother. He entered the NBA in 2003 after emerging as a basketball phenom at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.
James spoke about the school at an event Tuesday in a historic Akron theater. “Even though I was underprivileged,” he said, he was lucky to grow up with mentors, his mother and close friends.
“They would not let me get off course,” he said. ”A lot of the kids I see today in the community and all over the world are not lucky enough to have the same mentors and the same people around that can help their dreams become reality.”
The I Promise School aims to provide a supportive environment for students who lack guidance, James said.
“We definitely understand how important it is to create an environment where our most challenged and at risk students feel safe, supported an cared for,” said Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James at the event as a wall of adults in “We are family” T-shirts stood on stage.
A formal proposal for the school will be submitted for school board approval in October.
James has previously offered Akron kids educational opportunities. He created 1,100 full-tuition scholarships in 2015 to the University of Akron for teens who completed an “I Promise” program that included goals for attendance and grades.