LeBron James surprised his I PROMISE School students by announcing a $1M Sports Matter grant from the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation to build a brand new gym that will offer students a safe space for PE and afterschool sports.
I Promise School students gathered at LeBron’s high school alma mater, St. Vincent – St. Mary High School, for the surprise announcement to hear they are getting a new gym.
The I PROMISE School (IPS) – a public school founded in partnership with Akron Public Schools and the LeBron James Family Foundation – serves 240 of Akron Public School’s most at-risk 3rd and 4thgrade students. All students at IPS started the school year in the bottom 25th percentile and were performing below grade level. In less than a year, they’ve shown incredible improvement, with 90 percent meeting or exceeding individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing peers across the district.
Not stopping there – data shows kids who are physically active and play sports have higher test scores, get better grades, are absent less and are more likely to go to college. Kids living in low income areas have significantly less opportunities to play sports often because of cost and lack of facilities.
That’s why DICK’S and its Foundation created Sports Matter in 2014, pledging more than $50 million to address the funding crisis, and has helped fund thousands of youth sports programs and impacted millions of young athletes nationwide.
“To my kids, this is more than a gym. The DICK’S Sports Matter program is helping us provide even more opportunities.” Lebron said. “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.”
“I believe the sky is the limit for these kids and the results we’re seeing are just the beginning. 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.”