Good leaders give back. And when leaders give back sincerely, it creates a mindset of abundance. It sends a strong message that your business is thriving and that you want others to share in your success.
Today, thanks to the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) and LeBron, Inc. the doors to the I Promise School (IPS) in Akron City, the fifth largest city in the State of Ohio, opened to new students. The NBA superstar created the school as an extension of the LeBron James Family Foundation to give kids opportunities to thrive.
LeBron’s school targets at-risk children in 3rd grade, because research has shown students at that age become most at risk for dropping out of school later in life. The school will focus on accelerated learning techniques for students to bring them up to speed where they might otherwise be lagging behind.
The LJFF partnered with Akron Public Schools to design a personalized learning curriculum for students. According to the U.S. Department Education’s 2016 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) and 2017 NETP Update, personalized learning refers to instructions in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimized for the needs of each learner. Personalized learning has the big four, it is adaptive, individualized, differentiated and competency based.
The concept school compares to the progressive Summit Charter Schools, a collective of educational facilities located in California and Washington State designed to prepare students for success in a four-year college or university. Meghan Whitman, former CEO of eBay, who grew the iconic Silicon Valley company from $4 million to $8 billion in revenues, is an investor and board member. The personalized learning institutions cap enrollment at 200. Each day, kids read for 30 minutes, solve math problems for 30 minutes, take online courses, talk with mentors about their career and life goals, and meet with other students to talk and share their feelings during Community Time.
LeBron’s I Promise School caps enrollment at 240 students. Each classroom holds 20 students for every teacher, and 12 teachers have been hired for the 2018-19 school year. There are 43 academic staffers, including a principal, assistant principal, four intervention specialists, tutor, English as a second language teacher, music instructor and gym teacher. IPS is a certifed STEM (science, techonology, engineering, math) school. The school day is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the school year last from July 30th until May 17th.
“We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence. We are letting people know it is about true wrap-around support, true family integration and true compassion.”
Brandi Davis, I Promise principal and Akron native.
In addition to programs designed for students there is a focus on combating factors outside of the classroom that could cause children to struggle. Services are available to help students deal from stress related to parents who are struggling to make ends meet. The school also provides services to families, which include job placement assistance for parents and an on-site food bank that will allow parents to pick out foods they can prepare at home.
The IPS building is a state-of-the-art renovated estate, coincidentally located just down the street from St. Vincent-St. Mary, where James attended high school.
School officials and the staff took possession of the building seven weeks ago to get the school ready for Monday’s opening.
The first day students were met outside by the IPS staff, the students also received school supplies, a computer and each student received a bicycle so they can ride to and from school.
The entrance to the school features a split staircase with the IPS and LeBron James Family Foundation logos. High on the walls at the entrance are 114 sneakers worn by James. The corresponding pair will be sold by Upper Deck and proceeds will help fund the school and the foundation.
The bottom floor of the building features a mural of LeBron James, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Martin Luther King Jr.
The walls of the school are lined with photos of James and children at foundation events.
When the third graders reach their senior year, if they’ve maintained a 3.0 GPA, they’ll be offered 4-years of college tuition to the University of Akron, paid for by LJFF. There is no timetable on this pledge, and with more than 1,000 students currently on track to receive the scholarship, James’ foundation could be spending more than $41 million to help the students achieve college degrees.