LeBron James may have skipped college, but thanks to the I Promise School – a joint project between his foundation and Akron Public Schools that opened Monday – over a thousand students from his home town won’t have to. The school, which is the product of a decade’s worth of work, is focused on helping Akron students from difficult backgrounds who qualify based on socioeconomic and performance factors. By 2022, IPS hopes to teach students from first through eighth grade, but on Monday, it was just 240 third and fourth graders who were on-hand for the opening. IPS has a longer school day and a longer school year, which is why it’s opening in July, but those who complete the entire program will be offered free tuition to the University of Akron, starting in 2021. And in addition to receiving two healthy meals every day, students will also be given free bikes, helmets, school supplies, and even some IPS clothing. For James, who recalled missing 83 days of school as a fourth grader while he and his mom Gloria ‘looked for stability,’ the opening culminated years of planning by his family foundation. ‘This means everything,’ James told The Associated Press in an interview before the public event. ‘I think this is the greatest accomplishment for me because it’s not just me. A championship is for a team, that’s for an organization and a city. But these kids, this is for generation after generation after generation and it’s for these kids, so it means everything.’ James recalled beating the odds of his youth when life was a daily struggle for him and his mom. Nothing was easy as the pair constantly moved and it was only with the help of others than James found structure. Now, he’s giving kids with the same problems a path. ‘There is no way I could have imagined this,’ he said. ‘I remember our foundation having a bike-a-thon, and I never thought a five-mile bike ride would turn into a school. This is something I’m at a loss of words for.’ It was in the fourth grade when James’s mother Gloria allowed him to move in with a local family, the Walkers, who offered him a more stable living situation while she continued searching for steady work. He would go on to have perfect attendance in fifth grade. ‘LeBron missed a lot of school in the fourth grade. It’s well-documented,’ Michele Campbell, the executive director of James’ foundation, told USA Today.