Cities of Promise has often referred to the broad range of scholarship-centric initiatives as “the Promise movement.” And hasn’t every social movement in modern history pushed forward with the establishment of an identifiable face?
So a question for those in education circles is this: Will LeBron James — the global icon who just committed more than $50 million to pay for college scholarships for Akron students — become the “Face of Promise?”
One could reasonably argue that he already is. His announcement came on Friday afternoon and within 24 hours coverage came from a broad range of media — from CNN to ESPN, from Time Magazine to TMZ, from Essence to the Grio, from the Washington Post to the Chicago Tribune to USA Today, and from Fortune to Mashable. His donation is one of the biggest individual commitments in Promise history.
But yet another credible argument would be, “let’s just wait and see.” There is no question of his amazing reach — primarily as an 11-time NBA All-Star with five straight trips to the NBA Finals. He is also a well-known pitchman for enormous companies and Judd Apatow recently called him a “weirdly good actor” after his performance in “Trainwreck.”
His ability to draw attention to the Promise movement would be unparalleled. But will he leverage his gift to his hometown, its students and its largest university to bring attention to programs outside of Akron? Will his focus on his hometown spawn similar programs from other celebrities?
Boy, do we hope so. We’ll just wait and see.