Matthew Stafford Returns to Detroit for Education Center Groundbreaking


Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom was joined by former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and his wife, Kelly, outside the SAY Detroit Play Center on Friday to unveil a new addition to the facility.

The Kelly and Matthew Stafford & Friends Education Center will be a major expansion of the center, which was opened in 2015 by Albom’s nonprofit SAY Detroit. The center is an after-school facility for Detroit children ages 8-18. It provides academic enrichment, sports, activities, and mentorship to students from some of the city’s most underserved communities.

The ceremony opened with remarks from Albom, who said he was delighted with the success of the center and the prospect of its imminent expansion.

“We grew and grew, and reached the point where we couldn’t continue educating as many children as we wanted without more space,” Albom said. “And when Matthew and Kelly were on their way to Los Angeles, instead of having a big party…they decided to leave a legacy behind.”

Matthew and Kelly Stafford deliver remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kelly and Matthew Stafford & Friends Education Center at the SAY Detroit Play Center on April 22, 2022.

The Staffords donated $1 million to the project, which will expand the Play Center by approximately 20,000 square feet. Upon its scheduled completion in 2023, the addition will allow the center to accommodate more students, as well as offer new programs, including vocational training for teens and adults.

“We’re so proud of what (the Play Center) has become, of what it’s going to be in the future, of all the people it’s going to affect,” Matthew Stafford said while addressing the crowd. “It’s an amazing place to be a part of.”

After:Mitch Albom’s SAY Detroit Radiothon Awards $1.6 Million to Dozens of Metro Detroit Charities

Mayor Mike Duggan addresses the crowd at the groundbreaking for the SAY Detroit Play Center Kelly and Matthew Stafford & Friends Education Center on April 22, 2022.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson were also in attendance, sharing the many positive ways the center has impacted the surrounding community.

“That whole area came back,” Duggan said. “A few people can make a difference.”

For more information on the SAY Detroit Play Center, visit

Lauren Wethington is a breaking news reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or find her on Twitter at @laurenelizw1.


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