Slam Dunk for STEM: Timken Joins the LeBron James Family Foundation in I PROMISE

“We are family.” This philosophy guides the I PROMISE School, a collaboration between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools near Timken World Headquarters. Here, hundreds of at-risk third through sixth graders have access to groundbreaking academic intervention, wraparound support for their entire families, and a STEM curriculum that can change the course of their lives.

Soon, these budding innovators will learn about science, engineering, and technical career opportunities from Timken experts as the company joins the family of LeBron James Family Foundation partners.

“It’s an excellent match,” says Mike Leftwich, J.D., Timken associate relations specialist and recently-appointed LeBron James Advisory board member. “There are many capable kids in our community who only need the resources and opportunity to turn their inherent talents into greatness. Seeing positive examples of what can be achieved in the world of STEM helps them know that they can do it, too.”

Timken’s Promise: STEM Mentor, Academic Advocate

“Hope is a very powerful thing,” said LeBron James in an interview earlier this year. “No matter the situation, if a kid knows someone truly believes in them, that changes their outlook on everything. With our school, everything is built on giving kids the confidence that they can do anything. They know I believe in them, they know their teachers, the whole staff, and everyone we’ve put around them believes in them. It’s incredible what they can do when they feel that support.”

That support includes everything from problem-based learning plans to intervention services that address issues like hunger and housing. The holistic approach has worked; in just the first year of I PROMISE School in 2018, 90 percent of students met or exceeded their expected growth in math and reading.

Timken has committed to being a STEM partner for the I PROMISE School and will sponsor the school’s “Makerspace” – a lab and library where students can cultivate innovative thinking through hands-on exploration. Stocked with supplies to build a robot, create art, or go on adventures through reading, resources like these can help spark future goals and hope among children who have struggled academically or faced challenges in the home.

“We’d also like to connect students with Timken engineers who specialize in various technical disciplines like mechanical engineering, materials science and tribology, the science of interactive surfaces during relative motion,” Leftwich says. “Engineers can share how they work with each other and with customers to solve real-world technical problems.”

Inspired by LeBron James’ promise to give back to his hometown community, the children and teachers at the I PROMISE School take their own oaths to ensure that every student succeeds.

Giving Back to Move the World Forward

Mike Leftwich, associate relations specialist, represents Timken on the LeBron James Advisory board.

Leftwich feels a strong connection to the I PROMISE School for two reasons: he sees the real impact it makes in his own community, and it’s an investment in the future growth of STEM fields regionally and globally.

“LeBron and I PROMISE are such points of pride in our area,” he said. “I personally know kids that have received scholarships and others who received assistance through the program and see the difference it makes for entire families. When I was asked to participate on the board, it was a very quick yes.”

Leftwich also says that the Timken collaboration with the LeBron James Family Foundation is something that will have ripple effects beyond the community into the broader world of technology.

“It’s an opportunity for Timken to share our resources, knowledge and passion with these kids so they are are inspired to go into a STEM-related field,” Leftwich says. “For me, the biggest full-circle moment would be if—in the future—we interview a former I PROMISE student for a position at Timken. It’s about encouraging the next wave of talent—whether they end up here, or anywhere, innovating for the future.”

From Akron to India, Timken invests in communities to make the world a better place. See more examples of how the company promotes leadership in the Timken Corporate Social Responsibility Report.