Beacon Journal staff writer
The LeBron James Family Foundation is giving Akron Public Schools 1,000 computers for students to use both during classes and in the district's after-school programs.
The Hewlett-Packard computers 950 laptops and 50 desktop computers cost about $500,000.
Desiree Bolden, who directs the district's after-school program, told the Akron school board Monday night that the desktop computers will help students with emotional disabilities.
The laptops will be distributed to the 27 elementary schools participating in the program and Innes, Perkins and Roswell Kent middle schools beginning in January.
The kids might be able to thank LeBron via the Internet phone service Skype.
''So these computers will be used during the day and after school to extend learning and to work on projects and hopefully Skype with LeBron,'' Bolden said.
At his annual King for Kids Bike-athon in August, James presented checks for $75,000 each raised from the event and its sponsors for the Akron Urban League and the Akron Area YMCA, plus another $30,000 to the city's youth basketball program.
James' girlfriend, Savannah Brinson, and Michele Campbell, who manages the LeBron James Family Foundation, attended the board meeting with Akron Deputy Mayor Dave Lieberth.
''When we were at the Bike-athon this summer, it was Michele who came forward on behalf of LeBron and Savannah and said, 'Is there something else that we could do for children in the Akron Public Schools specifically?' '' Lieberth told the board.
Superintendent David James suggested helping the after-school program, which the city sponsored with seed money that has helped leverage other grants.
The program served more than 4,700 students last year, extending their school day to 5:15 p.m. with math and reading help, plus activities involving dozens of community organizations and institutions.
''The more we learned about it, the more we saw what a wonderful fit it was because it was true and authentic to what LeBron and Savannah's foundation was intended to be when it was formed,'' Campbell said.
The children who participate in the program aren't waiting for a Skype chat to say thanks.
Bolden presented Brinson with a stack of cards the children made and read one girl's message to LeBron for the board.
''Dear LeBron James, Thank you so much for giving us laptops,'' the girl wrote. ''You're so nice for trying to help our Akron after-school program. You're a nice friend, even though I never got to meet you. But still, thanks. God bless you.''
Lebron's Miami Heat open their regular season tonight in a nationally televised game against the Boston Celtics.