Originally published May 10, 2019 by CBSSports.com.
By Cody Benjamin
A brand new gymnasium is coming to LeBron James’ I Promise School after the Los Angeles Lakers star announced Friday a $1 million grant courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods and the company’s Sports Matter initiative.
Billions of dollars have been cut from school sports budgets in recent years, according to a press release James sent out about the grant, and the cuts disproportionately impact students in low-income areas. So the $1 million grant, which stems from the Dick’s Sporting Goods foundation, seeks to “address the funding crisis” by encouraging both physical education and after-school sports.
Unveiled in a surprise announcement at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, James’ alma mater, the grant mirrors the motto of the I Promise School, which LeBron opened in 2018 to primarily serve at-risk youth.
“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.”
As the release notes, the I Promise School was founded in partnership with Akron Public Schools and the LeBron James Family Foundation, hosting 240 of Akron Public Schools’ most at-risk third- and fourth-graders and offering free tuition to the University of Akron for anyone who graduates.
In April, a New York Times report indicated that 90 percent of the school’s students met or exceeded individual growth goals in district assessments, outpacing students across their Akron, Ohio, district and marking “extraordinary” test-score improvement from when the school opened in July 2018.