LeBron James is expanding his efforts to help kids in need yet again.
A little over a year after opening his I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, Bron is expanding the efforts to help at-risk youths, according to USA Today.
Partnering with Graduate Hotels CEO Ben Weprin, the I Promise School will soon open an I Promise Village. The goal of the I Promise Village is to provide transitional housing for students and their families who are going through traumatic experiences.
For Michele Campbell, executive director of James’ charitable foundation, this was the next step. She knew countless children that were in horrific situations.
“Some are homeless, some live in shelters and we have a student who was the victim of a gun invasion in their home and watched his brother get shot and a cousin get shot and die and he had to go back in that home," Campbell said. "It was terrifying for him. I was unsure how we were going to provide housing. I knew we wanted to do it. I didn’t know how we would do it."
For many children, traumatic home and family situations make successfully navigating a school day almost impossible.
That coupled with the inability to feel safe and articulate what they are going through can manifest itself in behavioral issues. Most schools are not equipped to handle that effectively and instead punitive measures are thrust upon these kids, perpetuating a vicious and crippling cycle.
This is something James knows all too well.
As a child he missed cumulative months of school in part because he didn’t have permanent or transitional housing. He and his mother, Gloria, moved at least a half dozen times during his fourth grade year.
“Initially, our work was focused on helping these kids earn an education. But we’ve found that it is impossible to help them learn if they are struggling to survive, if they are hungry, if they have no heat in the freezing winter, if they live in fear for their safety,” James said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports and other outlets. “We want this place to be their home where they feel safe, supported, and loved, knowing we are right there with them every step of the way as they get back on their feet.”
Graduate Hotels and the I Promise School purchased an historic Akron apartment building, set to officially open in July as the I Promise Village by Graduate Hotels. But Campbell said if there is a family in dire need, they can move them in as early as January, if need be.
"The reality is that we will be able to get in that building as early as the third week of January and if I had a family that was in desperate need, we would move them in while doing construction in another area.”
In a world where it is so easy to be cynical, we must applaud the tremendous efforts by LeBron James. Kudos.