Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

LeBron James speaks at the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, July 30, 2018.
Phil Long/AP
Education

LeBron James Is Giving 193 Students a Free Ride to College


Why Global Citizens Should Care
At-risk youth come from low-income families and are less likely to gain the skills needed to escape poverty. Global Goal 4 works to provide quality education to all children to ensure they have the tools to reach their full potential. You can join us and take action on this issue here

The junior class at LeBron James’ school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio received major news about the future of their education on Wednesday. 

The LeBron James Family Foundation announced that it will provide four years of free tuition at Kent State University (KSU) for eligible students in the first graduating class at I Promise School. The class of 193 students will have the option to enroll in the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Todd Diacon, KSU president, shared the news at a ceremony with I Promise School students and their families. Diacon had each student check under their seat to open an envelope with the university’s offer. 

"The I Promise program is built on the ‘earned, not given’ philosophy," Michele Campbell, executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, said in a statement to Global Citizen. "We are so excited that our students that have worked incredibly hard have earned even more life-changing opportunities to grow and excel." 

I Promise students must be admitted to KSU and apply for financial aid. The university will then cover the balance. First-year housing and meal plans are also included in the package. 

To alleviate the financial burden school supplies places on families, KSU announced a fundraising effort to cover books and housing after the first year for students who need additional support. Tuition is not the only barrier to education low-income students around the world face –– lack of access to transportation, the need to work to help support family, and having to choose between basic needs and school also get in the way. 

To continue qualifying for free tuition, students are required to meet a minimum number of community service hours each semester. Tuition will remain free for the students as long as they maintain good academic standing and meet community service requirements. 

I Promise School has an existing relationship with KSU –– students attended summer enrichment programs at the university this summer. 

Read More: 7 Amazing Things About LeBron James' New School for Low-Income Students

"We have already seen the impressive results that the I Promise network is having on its participating students," Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley said in a statement.

James first opened I Promise School, which serves over 1,300 at-risk youth, in 2018 to help get students back on track to complete their education. Ohio’s four-year high school graduation rate for black students at public schools was among the lowest states in the nation in 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

"I just know that so many kids in my community just don't have many options," James told reporters after the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. "For me to be able to be in a position to give these kids options to decide what they want to do with their future, it's probably the best thing I've ever done."