“Shut up and dribble,” they said, but clearly, King LeBron James has other plans.
Nearly a year after opening the iPromise school for at-risk students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, LeBron is making headlines once again. This time, he announced that in addition to the school, he will be offering temporary, transitional housing to the families of the school’s students.
In a statement about the news, LeBron said, “Initially, our work was focused on helping these kids earn an education. 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.” James is restoring a historic apartment building in Akron, Ohio, and turning it into a place where families in need can call home.
Renovations will begin immediately on the “iPromise Village,” which was formerly known as The Westmont Apartment Building. The 22 unit, nationally registered historic building, was originally built between 1927 and 1930. The Tudor revival architectural style building is expected to be available for full use by next July when the school year begins.
The LeBron James Family Foundation partnered with Graduate Hotels to complete the renovation. In a statement, Graduate Hotels founder and CEO, Ben Wipren, said, “The I Promise Village by Graduate Hotels will be a monumental next step for us and LeBron and his Foundation’s commitment to the future of the students and their families.” He continued, “It’s humbling to see the change they are affecting on a daily basis, and we’re honored to be a part of the journey.”
LeBron’s philanthropic efforts are addressing a problem long identified by educators and school personnel in at-risk communities. The failure of policymakers and government to address the holistic needs of a community, simultaneously, in order to promote a student’s ability to thrive and obtain a quality education. LeBron is bringing common-sense solutions to systemic problems in real-time. Hopefully, his efforts will inspire his peers and others to do the same.