LeBron James surprised his IPromise School students Thursday by announcing a $1 million grant from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation to build a brand new gymnasium at the Akron school.
The Akron native made the announcement at his alma mater, St. Vincent- St. Mary High School.
The new gym will be used for physical education programs and after-school activities, and serve as a safe space for children.
“To my kids, this is more than a gym,” James said. “The Dick’s Sports Matter program is helping us provide even more opportunities. An opportunity to play and learn in a safe place that many don’t have access to. I can’t imagine where my friends and I would be if it weren’t for the coaches and teachers who cared about us and the opportunities we had.”
The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation was established in 2011. Its Sports Matter Community Grant Program was launched just last year and benefits high-poverty, local youth sports teams, leagues and schools.
The I Promise School, a partnership between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, opened last year to third- and fourth-graders and is designed to help at-risk children with a curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). There are currently 240 students attending the school and what a way to wrap up the school year.
As if a new gym wasn’t enough, the Akron school board also accepted a $330,000 donation from James’ foundation to expand the family resource center at the I Promise School to grow the space and include a laundry room. The principal’s office and a teachers’ lounge also will be renovated.
“I believe the sky is the limit for these kids, and the results we’re seeing are just the beginning,” James said. “Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation believes in the opportunities and values sports provide, and I’ve experienced that at every level. I saw it growing up with my teammates, and I see it with my kids now. The benefits of playing sports can extend to every aspect of your life, and I’m excited we’re able to provide a space for that growth at the I Promise School.”