The LeBron James Family Foundation has partnered with a Chicago-based hotel company to address a pressing need for some of its students: housing.
In a video announcing the I Promise Village by Graduate Hotels, the LeBron James Family Foundation Executive Director Michelle Campbell says, "We have families who are homeless; families whose lives have been instantly upended by gun violence; families who have no heat, no electricity, no running water. We have families that are struggling to survive."
Graduate Hotels will renovate a former Akron apartment building known as the Westmont where families in need will be housed until they get back on their feet. The building is located within a few blocks of the I Promise School in Akron.
Graduate Hotels, founded in 2014, has 21 hotels located in university-anchored communities. Twelve more are under development and expected to open by the end of 2020. Real-estate developer Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners owns the chain. Ben Weprin founded AJ in 2008. In a statement released by LeBron's foundation, Weprin calls this move, "... a monumental next step for us..." No information about the cost of the renovations or how they will be funded was included with the information released by LeBron's Foundation.
Renovations of the Westmont are expected to begin immediately and the housing is slated to be ready for families when the I Promise School begins its next year in July 2020.
In the statement, LeBron James said the I Promise School intended to focus on education, "But we’ve found that it is impossible to help them learn if they are struggling to survive – if they are hungry, if they have no heat in the freezing winter, if they live in fear for their safety. We want this place to be their home where they feel safe, supported, and loved, knowing we are right there with them every step of the way as they get back on their feet.”
The I Promise School serves more than 1,400 of the most challenged Akron students and their families, providing them with the programs, support and mentors they need for success in school and beyond.