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Mitch Albom, Walt Wheeler and Scott Benson presenting a proclamation to the Michigan Masons, declaring October 5th 2016 Masons of Michigan Day. Courtesy photo.

Although the exact percentage of illiterate Detroit residents is a question of debate with numbers ranging from 47% to 12%, it’s still a serious issue to address. With the goal of helping make progress with Detroit’s youth on tackling this important challenge, the Michigan Masons are putting $5 million over the next decade into programs to support literacy and tutoring.

The money is going to S.A.Y. Detroit. It’s a non-profit initiative founded by author Mitch Albom and run by the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.

A large amount of the support is going toward the S.A.Y. Play Center at Lipke Park, a motivational academic, sports and enrichment center located in northeast Detroit that opened in 2015. As we’ve previously reported, it’s located on a 14.5 acre campus that was formerly an abandoned recreation center.

According to the organization, the entire grant will be given to S.A.Y. Detroit and its umbrella of charities founded by renowned author and journalist Mitch Albom. The donation will provide continuing support of S.A.Y. Play’s literacy and tutoring programs that serve Detroit’s youth, ages 8 to 18. The gift is called “M.A.D.E. by Masons” which is an acronym for Making A Difference Everywhere. The gift also contains a pledge of volunteer hours from the Michigan Masons.

Here’s how S.A.Y. Detroit works. To become members, students must work to achieve a 3.0 GPA, maintain an outstanding attendance record in school, and spend at least one hour each visit in the academic center in order to use its state-of-the-art sports and enrichment programs, including Robotics and STEM, dance, music (Notes for Notes) and the arts.

“Too many Detroit children face the barriers of illiteracy and achieving their full potential,” said William Finkel, Grand Master of Michigan Masons in a statement. “The Michigan Masons through the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation are committed to helping these children. Organizations like S.A.Y. Detroit are vital to the future of Detroit.”

Editor’s note/Correction: The headline previously said $10 million, the correct number is $5 million.