The University of Akron has announced that NBA star LeBron James has pledged up to $42 million to provide four-year scholarships to eleven hundred underserved students in the city.
To be awarded through the LeBron James Family Foundation, the scholarships will cover tuition and general service fees — currently $9,500 per year — for qualifying middle and high school students enrolled in the foundation's Akron I PROMISE Network, which engages children and their parents in efforts to improve their educational and life outcomes. While the criteria for the scholarships are in the process of being finalized, the Associated Press reports that scholarship recipients must graduate from a public high school in the city, meet standard testing requirements, and fulfill a community service obligation. The first scholarships will be awarded to high school students who graduate in 2021.
In addition, JPMorgan Chase will fund efforts to track the progress of students in the program. "Already, our professors are working with the foundation to identify the best measures of success for students in the Wheels for Education program and the Akron I PROMISE Network and to find ways to help them even more," said University of Akron president Scott Scarborough."In addition, our faculty will recruit and train our students to become mentors for LeBron's kids." The university also announced that its education department will be renamed the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education.
"It means so much because, as a kid growing up in the inner city and [like] a lot of African-American kids, you don't really think past high school," said James, who bypassed college to jump to the NBA. "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."