If some 200 Akron seventh graders stick with LeBron James’ mentorship program for the next six years, a full scholarship to attend the University of Akron awaits them.
Actually, the opportunity to go to college for free extends to any of the approximately 1,000 at-risk children in Akron Public Schools who are currently involved with the LeBron James Family Foundation and the hundreds more who may join.
James announced a partnership between his foundation, the university, and JPMorgan Chase in which any child under James’ mentorship who graduates from Akron Public Schools and meets yet-to-be-determined testing, attendance, and community-service criteria would receive receive a free ride to the University of Akron.
The scholarships, paid for by the university, will cover tuition and Akron’s general services fee — currently worth about $9,500 a year.“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,” James later told reporters. “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.”
James likened himself to the children who will be eligible for these scholarships — a poor child of a single parent who didn’t have the money to go to college.
Five years ago, the James foundation switched its focus to mentoring and tutoring poor, at-risk youths who are in danger of failing out of school because of problems learning, with attendance, or in their homes. This partnership with the university could play a key role in helping James reach his goal of raising the city’s graduation rate.