Kent - Kent State University has opened the gates of opportunity for all eligible students in the LeBron James Family Foundation’s (LJFF) oldest I PROMISE Network class by guaranteeing free tuition for four years, and one year of free room and meal plan.
The free tuition program was born out of an existing partnership between Kent State and the LJFF in which I PROMISE students attend summer enrichment college preparation programs at the university; those existing programs will continue.
“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.”
Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley said the partnership is another way in which Kent State is working to have a life-changing impact on the young people of Northeast Ohio.
“We have already seen the impressive results that the I PROMISE Network is having on its participating students,” 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.”
Tankersley, however, noted that while Kent State is helping to make the college dream a reality for these students, it is the students who really made it happen.
“This was earned,” she said, noting how diligently the students applied themselves since becoming part of the first I PROMISE class as third grade students. “The efforts of the I PROMISE students are to be celebrated.”
“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 oldest class of I PROMISE Network students is currently juniors and will be eligible for the Kent State package as college freshmen in the 2021-22 academic year. To be eligible for the free tuition, I PROMISE students must be successfully admitted to Kent State, fill out required financial aid forms and complete a requisite number of community service hours each semester.
Under the new program, Kent State will cover the tuition that remains for the I PROMISE students after they receive funds from traditional financial aid sources and will provide the first year’s room and meal plan.
To remain eligible for the free tuition each year, the students must remain in good academic standing, must complete a minimum number of credit hours annually and must take part in a required number of community service or volunteer hours.
“Flashes always give back,” Tankersley said. “Much like LeBron, we believe in service to our community.”
Part of the free tuition program may include work-study jobs on campus, which will give the students a true “sweat equity” stake in their education, she said. The free tuition guarantee includes no loans that would have to be repaid.
Tankersley said offering the freshman year room and meal plan is an important step to ensure the students remain in college and on track to achieve their degrees.
The university also is beginning a fundraising effort to help cover other expenses for these students, including the remaining three years of room and board, books and other 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 first I PROMISE class consists of 193 students. “Our plan is to offer the same opportunity to future I PROMISE classes as well,” Tankersley said.
The LJFF’s I PROMISE program supports more than 1,400 Akron students in grades three through 10 through mentoring, college and career preparation and wrap-around family support.
“There’s so much that we can accomplish through this partnership in the future, and no limit to what these students can achieve,” Tankersley said.
Photo courtesy of Kent State University
© 2020 iHeartMedia, Inc.
Hear news updates at the top and bottom of the hour:wtam.com/listen