Posted by Terrence Dalton
Dr. Michele Campbell was our featured speaker at the Tuesday, July 13th weekly Rotary Club of Akron meeting. 
Click here o watch the presentation or copy and paste this link into your browser
Dr. Campbell has spent many years pursuing her passion in the education sector. The Akron native attained her education from Ohio institutions including a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ashland University, a Master’s from Kent State University’s Higher Education Administration, and a Doctorate from the University of Akron as a Doctor of Education. 
As the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, she is able to positively affect the lives of children and young adults through educational initiatives, Dr. Campbell brings LeBron’s vision to create positive and lasting change in his hometown to life through daily and long-term interventions rooted in research and driven by passion.
Under Campbell’s direction, in 2011 the LeBron James Family Foundation began working on the high school dropout crisis facing the Akron community and launched its core I PROMISE program in partnership with Akron Public Schools. This deep-rooted initiative targets the district’s lowest performing students and provides them with the programs, support and mentors they need for success in school, following them all the way through graduation. In partnership with the Akron Public Schools, the Foundation targets students at the end of their second grade that are struggling the most.  Research has shown that 25% of this identified group will likely drop out of school.  It is this segment of students that the Foundation and the I PROMISE School chooses to work with.  These students would then begin at the I PROMISE School beginning with the Third grade.
Dr. Campbell briefly touched on the challenges LeBron faced as a young student.  She reported that LeBron missed 82 days of school in the fourth grade.  It was this life experience that drove LeBron to create the LeBron James Family Foundation and all of the different programs that have evolved to create the opportunities for these students and their families to be successful.
In addition to sharing with us about the students and families they serve Dr. Campbell also shared about the LeBron James Family Foundation’s impact on the community – from opening the I PROMISE School, to expanding into transitional housing the I PROMISE Village by Graduate Hotels and long term housing with I PROMISE Housing, and culminating in the innovative House Three Thirty, which will see the historic Tangier turned into a community space providing job training, financial health, and gathering space for our I PROMISE families.
The growth into these other areas were the results of listening to the families of the students to see what barriers they were confronting that limited the students, but also themselves.  The families tend to have jobs, but not careers.  The I PROMISE Family concept is to help the family have more than just jobs, but a career path.
With a commitment to redefining community and building stronger families, The LeBron James Family Foundation invests its time, resources, and passion into creating generational change for the kids and families of Akron through a focus on education and co-curricular educational initiatives.
When asked if the LeBron James Family Foundation had plans to expand the program into other cities and States, Dr. Campbell stated the Foundation realizes their own limitations.  They have conducted workshops for other school districts and communities who are interested and will share their successes and challenges, but will remain Akron based.
With its foundational I PROMISE program, the Foundation serves more than 1500 students and their entire families by providing them with the fundamental resources, wrap-around supports and family programming they need for success in school and beyond.  As stated earlier, the Foundation has layered in additional supports including higher education and family supports at the I PROMISE Institute, transitional housing at the I PROMISE Village, longer-term housing at the upcoming I PROMISE Housing, and several hand-on supports in between.  According to Dr. Campbell, these life-changing resources, combined with the Foundation’s “We Are Family” philosophy are re-defining what a family and community looks like.
When asked why the program has been so successful so far, Dr. Campbell credited her staff for their efforts in creating trust with the families.  Trust in so critical for the families participating in the program. Trust is something that many of the families had not been able to find with many of their previous interactions with other “systems.”
For more information on the LeBron James Family Foundation and the I PROMISE School, I encourage you to visit their website at