LeBron James Pledges $41mn to Send 1,100 Ohio Teens to College*
By Jake Anderson
Keeping true to his promise to give back to the community where he grew up, Lebron James announced Monday that his foundation will subsidize the college educations of 1,100 Ohio high school graduates. In order to cover these tuition costs at the University of Akron, the Lebron James Foundation committed $41 million, enough to fund four year scholarships at $9,500 per student.
James remarked on his new charitable endeavour:
“It’s the reason I do what I do. 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.”
Lebron James, one of the most famous—and wealthy—professional athletes in the world, made headlines in recent years when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA basketball team to play for the Miami Heat. His much-publicized and demonized “decision” broke the hearts of many local Akron and Cleveland residents, who had revered “King James” and everything he meant for a city—an entire state, in fact—with economic problems and no professional sports championships to speak of since 1964.
James preceded his exaltant return to Cleveland in 2014 with a stunning open letter, in which he stated,
“I feel my calling [in Ohio] goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get. In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”
It appears James is already making good on his promise to give back to his community in a major way. In recent months, James and members of his foundation met multiple times with University of Akron President Dr. Scott Scarborough to discuss long-term plans that would be beneficial for the community. The education department, which will soon be renamed the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education, will begin accepting applications for the scholarships in 2021.
It couldn’t come at a better time for a university that recently announced $40 million in widespread cuts, including the entire baseball program and 215 lost jobs.