NBA star LeBron James has been a fierce advocate for youth empowerment and his latest effort sits at the intersection of racial equity and education. The Akron native has teamed up with Box Tops for Education and Walmart for the creation of a campaign centered on amplifying the contributions of diverse educators.
The initiative—dubbed The Best Year Starts Here—is designed to celebrate teachers of color who have been a source of inspiration in their students’ lives. It was also launched to support underfunded schools throughout the country. The project, which James joined through his philanthropic imprint the LeBron James Family Foundation, will digitally highlight the narratives of three teachers through the lens of their students. Box Tops for Education will also introduce an app feature in which individuals can donate to under-resourced schools. Walmart will use its platforms to spread awareness about the education-focused campaign.
“Teachers and school staff are some of the most influential people in our kids’ lives,” James said in a statement. “I know firsthand how important it is to see and learn from diverse educators – it builds confidence and creates a connection for every single student. For my foundation and our work in education, we’ve made this a priority in everything we do because we know how important it is to help students and families stay engaged. We’re excited to help share what we’ve learned and tell this story alongside Box Tops for Education and Walmart.” Lilly Moeding, who serves as the Brand Experience Manager for Box Tops for Education, says the company is “eager to share stories of extraordinary teachers who are statistically underrepresented to demonstrate the incredible impact they’re having on students and find new avenues to make a difference in communities across the country.”
This isn’t the first time James has teamed up with Walmart for an initiative centered on education. He surprised one of his I Promise School students with a back-to-school shopping spree. News about the effort comes less than a year after it was announced James’ foundation is working on creating a community hub in Akron.