Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James is opening a transitional housing facility.
An extension of his I Promise School — which opened last year in Akron, Ohio, for at-risk youth — James’ new I Promise Village will provide free temporary housing at an apartment building, not far from the school, aimed at helping students and families who struggle with homelessness, domestic violence and other challenges that can hinder education.
The idea came from listening to families’ needs, as well as learning from his own childhood, in which James and his mother, Gloria, bounced from home to home, Michele Campbell, executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, told Curbed.
“Students with more extreme behavior tended to lack stable housing,” she said. “We quickly realized that if we weren’t able to address the issue of safe and stable housing for a family, we wouldn’t be able to deal with the real issues inhibiting a student’s learning.”
The project seeks to build a 22-unit building and, over the next several months, the site will be renovated to feature student artwork, as well as other positive imagery and activities.
Individual units in the building will be flexible, meaning they’ll be able to accommodate different family sizes. The ground floor will have a large dining room, common area and an intake center to offer support to newcomers. Outside will be a recreational area.
“Initially, our work was focused on helping kids earn an education,” James said in a statement. “But we’ve found it is impossible to help them learn if they are struggling to survive, hungry, have no heat in the freezing winter [and] if they live in fear for their safety.”