AKRON, Ohio — The first graduating class of students at LeBron James' I PROMISE school will now have the opportunity to attend a local college tuition free.
Kent State University announced Wednesday that graduating students who meet certain requirements would receive four years of free tuition and one free year of room, board and meals.
The program students would attend summer enrichment college preparation programs at the university.
"We are so pleased to take our partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to this next level and welcome these students fully into the Kent State family," Kent State President Todd Diacon said. "Kent State looks forward to the time when our campus is teeming with I PROMISE students."
The class, consisting of 193 Akron-area high school juniors, became part of the I PROMISE program in 2011 as third-grade students, the KSU news release states.
"We have already seen the impressive results that the I PROMISE Network is having on its participating students," KSU Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley said. "We are so pleased that Kent State will become the next step in the educational journey of these amazing young people, and so happy that we can start them on their way to exciting careers and lives full of inspiration."
Students must be successfully admitted to KSU, fill out required financial aid forms, complete the requisite number of community service hours each semester to be eligible for free tuition. The program also applies to work-study jobs on campus.
"The I PROMISE program is built on the 'earned, not given' philosophy. We are so excited that our students that have worked incredibly hard have earned even more life-changing opportunities to grow and excel," said Michele Campbell, executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation. "We are so thankful to the entire Kent State family for believing in our students and providing exactly the type of programming and support they need to be successful not only in school, but in life."
The university is also launching a fundraising effort to cover other expenses for the students, including the other three years of room and board, books, and experiential opportunities.
"I promise you we will be working diligently to raise additional money to help cover the costs of room and board for these students for three additional years, and also to provide for other things they may need such as books and study abroad experiences," Tankersley said.
The I PROMISE School graduates also have the choice of a paid-for education at The University of Akron. James partnered with the school to guarantee four-year scholarships to all eligible students who graduate from the program and meet the I PROMISE program's criteria.
I PROMISE is a collaboration between the Akron Public Schools and the LeBron James Family Foundation. At-risk students are selected by lottery to attend the school, which has a STEM-based education model, longer class hours and specialized nutrition.
This story was originally published by Ian Cross on WEWS in Cleveland.