Giving Compass' Take:

• Meredith Nelson reports on the unusual aspects of LeBron James's I Promise School for at-risk kids in Akron, Ohio.

• How can this model be scaled? How can research highlight the most impactful improvements? 

• Learn more about the benefits of community schools

If anyone can make school cool, it’s LeBron.

Start with the imposing chandelier, the split staircase with its grand curves, and the 114 game-worn sneakers displayed on the walls in the lobby of the brand-new I Promise School in Akron, Ohio.

That’s the view that greeted 240 at-risk third- and fourth-graders — the first students in a unique partnership among NBA superstar LeBron James, his LeBron James Family Foundation, and his hometown of Akron, Ohio — when the doors opened Monday morning, their first day of school.

Kids get breakfast, lunch, and a snack each extra-long school day — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — during an extra-long school year — July 30 to May 17. There will be a seven-week summer school program. Perks for the handpicked teachers include personal workout trainers.

Parents can get their GEDs and job training through the school. Students will be immersed in a curriculum that blends humanities with STEM learning, with access to tutors and an English-as-a-second-language teacher, and parents and kids can use the school’s emotional, career, and other support services year-round. Each kid gets a new bicycle and helmet to keep fit and explore areas outside the often violence-ridden neighborhoods they live in.

And the icing on the cake: Beginning in 2021, every graduate of the I Promise program will get free tuition at the University of Akron, provided by James.

Read the full article about I Promise School by Meredith Nelson at The 74.