Lebron James likes to call the 1,100 students enrolled in the LeBron James Family Foundation's "I Promise" program, a resource network for middle and high schoolers in James' hometown of Akron, his kids: Now, the 30-year-old professional basketball player wants to send each of those kids to college for free.
James, originally from Akron, Ohio, announced those 1,100 students would attend college for free if they fulfill his program's requirements, alongside the University of Akron's President Scott Scarborough at his organization's annual "family retreat," according to ESPN.
"If you are one of LeBron's kids .. we want to tell you you have a college scholarship waiting for you at the University of Akron when you graduate from high school," Scarborough said at the program's annual "reunion" in Cedar Point, Ohio. "What do you dream to be? Do you dream to be a teacher? A scientist? An engineer or a doctor? This college scholarship is your way to make that happen, and all because that man believes in you."
The program is partnering with the University of Akron to pay those students' full scholarships, which costs about $9,500 per year in tuition, if they fulfill standardized testing requirements to attend the school and complete the program's mandatory community service obligations, according to Fox Sports. Fox estimates 1,100 paid-for students will cost James' organization and the University of Akron about $41.8 million, at the school's current tuition rates.
As tuition rates in the United States continue to rise, providing full scholarships could make all the difference in the lives of many students who face the heavy burden of finding out how to pay for higher education.
James' move also comes at a time when politicians gearing up for the 2016 presidential election are focusing on college tuition and student loan debt as a hot topic, unveiling different plans to curb the increasing costs of higher education.
The first round of students eligible for the full scholarships to the University of Akron will be graduating high school in 2021. James, who skipped college to play in the NBA out of high school, says he's excited to provide such an opportunity to kids growing up where he did, according to ESPN:
"I think it's probably one of the best things I've ever been apart of, this is very special to me. As a kid growing up in the inner city and as an African American kid, you don't really think past high school because it's not possible or your family can't support you. For us to be able to do something like this ... it means so much."