The LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) in partnership with Stand Together held a conference in Akron, Ohio, which was an eye opening experience on educational innovation.
The organizations operate within the framework of the Akron public school system to provide a first of its kind, complete wrap-around of support services to the students, siblings, and parents. The students are selected through a lottery which targets the bottom 25% of academic performers within the Akron District. Students and their parents are encouraged to fully engage in the Family Resource Center to access the essentials necessary for student success. In the resource center, they can find clothing, food, household cleaning, and maintenance items. The teachers are allowed to shop in the tool kit for classroom supplies and items needed for special projects. Students that graduate with a “B” average are offered full scholarships to the University of Akron and Kent State University. Both universities offer mentorship programs that occur on the I Promise campus. The I Promise School currently provides academic services to students through the eighth grade but has plans to expand through the 12th grade.
One of the strongest elements of the conference was the extraordinary partnerships. The I Promise School partners include the University of Akron, Kent State University, The Center for High Impact Philanthropy, The 100 Black Men of America, Georgia-Pacific (Atlanta), Stand Together, A for Arizona, Chase Bank, Star Bucks, Resolution Public Affairs and many others. As a result of the conference, we are exploring potential opportunities to collaborate with some of the I Promise partners on a couple of the Booker T. Washington Initiative’s education and workforce development projects such as the Port Arthur ISD (CTE and Industry connection program) and the Resolution Public Affairs (Build Our Way Out – Investing in the Future of America Coalition).