LeBron James surprises students at his I Promise School with free college tuition for 4 years

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

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Students from LeBron James' I Promise School got a life changing surprise Thursday — one that will impact their lives for years to come.

Students in the 11th grade at the I Promise School, which is a tuition-free school in James' hometown of Akron, were invited to spend the day at Kent State University.

When they arrived in the auditorium, the teens were asked to look under their seats. Then, Oprah-style, they found an envelope with a huge surprise inside.

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I Promise partnered with Kent State to provide four years of college — tuition free — for qualifying students if they choose to go there. Students will also receive a full year of room and board for free.

A video of the surprise tweeted by the LeBron James Family Foundation shows students erupting with excitement when they found out the news.

When you show up to @KentState for your 11th grade experience outing, but find out you’re also getting FREE tuition for 4 years AND a year of free room & board‼️ 😱😭 pic.twitter.com/udCrl95qFi

— LeBron James Family Foundation (@LJFamFoundation) February 12, 2020

And the I Promise inaugural class won't have to use their free tuition at Kent State.

"They get to decide if they want free tuition there [Kent State] or University of Akron, we have so many options," James told reporters Thursday. "And I just know that so many kids in my community just don't have many options, so for me to be able to give these options and decide what they want to do with their future, it's probably the best thing I've ever done."

It’s about options. 🙏

⚡️ @KentState
🦘 @uakron
#WeAreFamily pic.twitter.com/SjNsSMNnGG

— LeBron James Family Foundation (@LJFamFoundation) February 13, 2020

The I Promise School is just one part of the LeBron James Family Foundation. In partnership with Akron Public Schools, the foundation opened the I Promise School in 2018. Its mission is "to wrap around the most at-risk students and families in Akron," according to the site.

The school provides free tuition, busing, meals, uniforms, bikes and helmets and even benefits for parents, like GED and job placement services.

The I Promise School had promised free tuition to the University of Akron and now, they have expanded to Kent State. Both schools shared the news and their gratitude for the foundation on Twitter.

The LeBron James Family Foundation's I Promise program was working overtime Thursday. In addition to the tuition surprise for some students, 23 other kids in the program were sent to Chicago, where the NBA All-Star game will be played this weekend. There, they will have a "weekend of service & career exploration," the foundation tweeted.

"It's important to leave a place better than you found it & these [high school] students will do just that," they tweeted.

First published on February 13, 2020 / 6:21 PM

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