Over the past year and half in lockdown, the struggles wrought by education inequality in America have reached a fever pitch. Entering the public stage at this timely moment is I Promise: a new documentary film directed by Marc Levin, detailing the journey of NBA star LeBron James as he struggles to close the opportunity gap for students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
With a runtime of 102 minutes, I Promise provides an in-depth study of the inaugural academic year inside I Promise School: a groundbreaking institution developed by James, which opened its doors in 2018. Its STEM-focused approach to education is led by the philosophy of Social Emotional Learning–a comprehensive curriculum highlighting the importance of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
Applying this model to the urban education environment, James hopes to open new doors to underprivileged youth in the city of Akron and beyond. Students enrolled in the I Promise School receive perks such as free tuition, free uniforms, free bicycles and safety helmets, complimentary meals and free transportation with two miles of the school grounds. The grand finale: students who successfully graduate from the institution receive guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron.
It is this exceptional model of learning that I Promise sets out to explore. Originally slated to premiere as a web series on the now-defunct short-form app Quibi, the film was taken on as part of a new lineup by YouTube Originals, amid the likes of upcoming flicks such as Seat at the Table with David Attenborough, and Shut it Off ASAP from AsapSCIENCE and B17 Entertainment. I Promise is executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, in conjunction with their own media company known as The SpringHill Co. Additional team members include Susanne Daniels, global head of original content for YouTube, and development manager Zoe Di Stefano.
I Promise will hold its YouTube premiere on Thursday, September 28th at 12 PM EST, free-to-watch with ads.