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4 Sep 2015

LeBron James and the University of Akron partner to give Akron youth full scholarships

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September 4, 2015 Category: Stateside Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  LeBron James and Dr. Scott Scarborough stand with children of the ‘I Promise’ Project.

By  John “Hennry” Harris

BOSS Sports

LeBron James continues his mission to give back to his hometown of Akron in a major way.

James is giving kids from Akron, Ohio who grew up with the challenging backgrounds like his a chance to attend college for free.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star has partnered with the University of Akron to provide a guaranteed four-year scholarship to the university for students in James’ “I Promise” program who qualify.

The scholarship will cover tuition and the university’s general service fee which is currently $9,500 per year.

As many as 2,300 children could potentially benefit from the scholarships.

“It’s the reason I do what I do,” said James, who announced the program recently while hosting an event for students at Cedar Point Amusement Park. “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.”

The University of Akron and the LeBron James Family Foundation are still finalizing the criteria for the scholarships, but the students will have to:

• Graduate from high school within Akron’s public school system

• Achieve standard testing requirements

• And fulfill a community service obligation

As a star in high school, LeBron James played many of his games on the university’s campus and deepened his connection after he turned professional.

“It means so much because, as a kid growing up in the inner city and a lot of African-American kids, you don’t really think past high school,” said James, who bypassed college to jump to the NBA. “You don’t really know your future. You hear high school all the time, and you graduate high school, and then you never think past that because either it’s not possible or your family’s not financially stable to even be able to support a kid going to college.”

“I think it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever been apart of,” James said. “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.”

University of Akron president Scott Scarborough told reporters the school will rename its College of Education after James’ foundation.

The scholarship is the result of meetings between James and members of his foundation with the Akron President Dr. Scott Scarborough with the hopes of establishing a program that would have a long-term impact on the community.

Michele Campbell, who serves as executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, says that James, who grew up in a single-parent home, was visibly emotional when discussing the impact of the program.

“He has a chance to change their futures,” Campbell said. “Not everybody can be an NBA superstar, so to be able to provide the framework to make your dreams come true is overpowering.”

The scholarship announcement comes at a crucial time as the University of Akron recently announced $40 million in widespread cuts – including the loss of the basketball team – due to financial troubles.

“Every institution goes through an adjustment from time to time, and you look at what you’ve funded in the past and you look at the things that are new opportunities and new initiatives for the future, and this fits in ourlbjwithbasketball sweet spot,” Scarborough said. “This is a program that focuses on the local area. This is a program that rewards earning your way into college. I think LeBron’s philosophy is that things are earned not given, and that aligns well with our emphasis on experience and learning and career service and education.”

The first high school class eligible for the scholarships will graduate in 2021.

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