“The goal of this school is to have these kids feel like they’re superheroes,” LeBron James, NBA superstar and founder of Akron, Ohio’s I Promise School, can be heard saying on the trailer for a new docuseries released Monday.
I Promise, according to a press release shared with ESSENCE, is a 15-episode mini-docuseries that captures the challenges and successes of the I Promise school through the eyes of James, its students, teachers, and others close to the institution that was opened in 2018. Executive produced by James, the documentary provides an in-depth look at the first academic year and tells the story of James’ efforts to close the achievement gap in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The series, launched on mobile-only streaming platform Quibi, will explore the day-to-day highs and lows of what it looks like to empower young students who are in many cases educationally delayed and/or experiencing personal trials and trauma. That includes homelessness, incarceration of a family member, gun violence and more. Viewers will get to see what happens when the school staff works together with students and their families to completely shift the trajectory of these young people’s lives.
I Promise is launching on Monday with three episodes, and will continue to upload the less than 10-minute webisodes for the next 12 days. Each episode will address a specific theme in regard to James’s goal for the groundbreaking school.
“I think it’s important for us all to see and hear stories that can make each other better,” James told People of the documentary series. “That’s why I’m thankful that my SpringHill Entertainment was able to shine a light on these kids and these families, as well as so many other important things they’re doing.”
In addition to opening I Promise in the fall of 2018, James has also started construction on a safe housing building for students and their families. “Initially, our work was focused on helping these kids earn an education. But we’ve found that it is impossible to help them learn if they are struggling to survive — if they are hungry, if they have no heat in the freezing winter, if they live in fear for their safety,” James said in a statement after the purchase of the historic Akron building that is going through renovations. “We want this place to be their home where they feel safe, supported, and loved, knowing we are right there with them every step of the way as they get back on their feet.”