By Jenny Conn
The LeBron James Family Foundation will provide long-term mentoring and tutoring to kids in its programs, through partnerships with Signet Jewelers and the United Way program.
The foundation made the announcement at a big splash Friday at Litchfield Community Learning Center. That followed a presentation last Friday at Firestone Community Learning Center, where the foundation gave out cross country and track and field uniforms.
In the new partnership, members of the United Way iC.A.R.E. Mentoring will train volunteers from Signet's pool of 3,000 employees to mentor, tutor and provide other programming across the Akron Public Schools for kids in the foundation's programs, said Desiree Bolden, who runs Akron After School.
United Way hopes the partnership leads to mentoring programs at more Akron companies.
The training United Way's iC.A.R.E. Mentoring will provide Signet employees is a long-term commitment, which is vital to making the students' dreams come true, said the foundation's Executive Director Michele Campbell.
"LeBron James is an expert in dunking a basketball, but when you think about one-on-one mentoring, I wouldn't that say he or the foundation is an expert in mentoring," Campbell said. "They are working with us and our mentors to help get them the best training so they can be the best mentors for these kids."
Here's what it's about.
LeBron James' programs: The LeBron James Family Foundation selects the district's most challenged children to participate in Wheels for Education, for younger students, while the I PROMISE Network, for middle school and high school students.
Both programs provide intervention, support, encouragement and incentives to help students make it to graduation, and eventually attend the University of Akron through the foundation's I PROMISE Scholarship
Akron Public Schools: Superintendent David James said mentoring will help students whose problems go beyond the classroom.
"Their problems in the greater community and at home spill over into the classroom," he said. "Having mentors who are willing to give their time, to help a kid or mentor a kid or whatever they have time for, is a huge blessing for us and these kids."
Signet Jewelers: Akron-based Signet Jewelers has a 100-year history in community, and supporting women and children has always been a focus for the company, said David Bouffard, Signet's vice president of corporate affairs.
"We know that education is critical to the development of children and mentoring provides support for success in school," he said.
United Way: iC.A.R.E. Mentoring Director Jonathan Greer said the partnership is also a good way to not only help students but to get more area companies involved in the schools.
"This is a watershed moment," said United Way President and CEO Jim Mullen. "It's the first of what will be coming up."