Social Justice Initiative From LeBron James

Inside the Huddle
Posted on 10/02/2020
Image of LJFF logo(from CrainsCleveland.com)

Akron native and NBA star LeBron James has been a highly visible figure in the social justice movement of 2020, and now his foundation is unveiling a new initiative surrounding the cause.

The LeBron James Family Foundation is launching the I Promise Huddle, a recurring initiative designed to unite diverse voices and turn the desire for change into action, according to a Thursday, Oct. 1, news release.

The inaugural Huddle — which is in partnership with Stand Together, a philanthropic community that looks for solutions in education, poverty and economic opportunity — is a private, invitation-only affair, the release said. The event will run — in-person and socially distanced — from Monday, Oct. 5, through Wednesday, Oct. 7, primarily at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, according to a foundation spokeswoman. A tour of the I Promise school is also on the agenda.

Organizers say the Huddle will "transcend politics and policies to acknowledge and activate against systemic racism in communities at its roots in education." The Huddle hopes to turn discussion into immediate action and provide tools for change in every community, the release stated.

"To create real change, we must have an open and honest dialogue about what is actually happening and model actionable ways to fix these issues," said LJFF executive director Michele Campbell in a statement. "The purpose of the Huddle is to not just talk about these injustices that have held some members of our communities back for so long.

"We want to bring together people to share our passion for this hard work and engage and empower them to activate their own communities. Because our country and our communities need action, and we believe we'll have a dynamic group of people, ideas and models at the Huddle to continue this movement we've started in Akron."

The inaugural Huddle event will bring together science and health scholars, business leaders, educators, advocates, investors and philanthropists as well as students and youth activists for panels, town hall discussions and breakout sessions, the release stated.

Among the confirmed speakers are Tim DeRoche; Rebecca Sibilia, founder of EdBuild; Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments; Rajiv Vinnakota, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation; and Brandi Davis, I Promise School principal. The event also will include a student-driven town hall with youth activists from across the nation. A full agenda of the I Promise Huddle is here >>. James, whose Los Angeles Lakers are competing in the NBA playoffs, will not be in attendance, the spokeswoman said.

"We're proud to support the inaugural I Promise Huddle and partner with the LeBron James Family Foundation to bring together diverse voices to create a better education system for everyone," Brian Hooks, CEO of Stand Together, said in a statement. "This starts with a call to action to stop forcing kids to attend schools that fail to meet their needs simply because of where their parents live. Assigning kids to schools based on their ZIP code perpetuates historical injustices in K-12 education and must be ended if we are to live up to our country's ideals of equality and justice."

The LJFF has made a significant impact in Akron to help underserved and disadvantaged families with its I Promise Program and I Promise School, which has become a national example of education innovation and public-private partnership. The school for at-risk students is a partnership between the LJFF and Akron Public Schools.
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