LeBron James’ I PROMISE School to Open Transitional Housing for At-Risk Students

First, the LeBron James Family Foundation started the I PROMISE Program to help kids in Akron pay for and go to college. Then, the Los Angeles Lakers star worked with his organization and Akron Public Schools to open the I PROMISE School, which caters to the needs of the city’s lowest-performing students and their families. Soon, LeBron will expand that “promise” to include transitional housing to those students and families, with an assist from Graduate Hotels.

According to USA Today, the boutique hotelier, which typically caters to hospitality needs in college towns, has purchased an historic apartment building down the street from the I PROMISE School in Akron, and plans to renovate and furnish the units in what will become the I PROMISE Village by Graduate Hotels. The development is expected to officially open in July 2020, though some needy families could begin moving in as soon as January.

“Initially, our work was focused on helping these kids earn an education,” LeBron said in a statement. “But we’ve found that it is impossible to help them learn if they are struggling to survive, if they are hungry, if they have no heat in the freezing winter, if they live in fear for their safety.

“We want this place to be their home where they feel safe, supported and loved, knowing we are right there with them every step of the way as they get back on their feet.”

The initiative, like so many associated with the I PROMISE School, ties back to LeBron’s personal story. He famously missed 83 days of school as a fourth grader while he and his mother, Gloria, moved more than a half dozen times between the homes of family and friends. Back then, the Jameses may well have benefited from the sort of transitional housing that the I PROMISE Village will soon provide.

“If you’re coming to school and you were on the street or in a shelter, and coming to school and placed in a classroom to learn about math or read books, there is no way those children can focus on learning,” Michele Campbell, the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, told USA Today.

The I PROMISE Village will join a full suite of services that the school provides to students and families beyond classroom education for kids. The parents of the school’s 343 students between third and fifth grade also have access to food, clothing, medical care, mental health services, GED classes, mentors, legal assistance and financial literacy courses.


Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.