Stafford family donates $1 million to open education center

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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Before leaving for Los Angeles next month, quarterback Matthew Stafford and wife Kelly have one last gift for the city of Detroit. On Thursday, the couple announced they're donating $1 million to fund the Kelly and Matthew Stafford and Friends Education Center for the SAY Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park. 

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford poses for a picture before the game with wife Kelly and daughters Chandler, Sawyer and new baby Hunter at Ford Field in Detroit on October 28, 2018.

The project is the second time the Stafford family has donated $1 million to the center. In 2015, one year after the park was closed due to city budget cuts, the couple committed resources to begin restoration of the facility and playing fields. 

The new pledge will help finance a 20,000-square-foot facility with classrooms, labs and vocational training space. 

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“It has been our goal to always give back to the city," Kelly wrote on Instagram. "Detroit and its people have blessed us in so many ways, we only hope you have felt our gratitude through our joy of giving back to the city. As we sat down and tried to figure out how to thank you one last time, we felt like words were not sufficient. And so, we have teamed up with Mitch Albom to create an education center that will be attached to the SAY Play Center where Stafford Field is also located. The new building will enable the center to increase its student population who benefit from the center’s academic, athletic and arts programs, and service adults with job training programs, GED classes, and community events. This is the legacy we want to leave behind."

This is just the latest in a long list of philanthropic contributions by the Stafford family.  In August, the couple donated $1.5 million to the University of Georgia, with a large chunk of that money earmarked for the school's new social justice initiative. 

More:In first comments since trade, Stafford calls conversations with Lions 'hardest' of his life

And during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple partnered with local restaurants in Metro Detroit to donate hundreds of meals to frontline workers. And in the fall, they also provided supplies to facilitate remote learning for students at the Detroit Lions academy. 

Stafford, the No. 1 draft pick in 2009 for the Lions, has played all 12 seasons with the franchise. Last month, the team agreed to trade him to the Los Angles Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff and three draft picks, including a pair of future first-round selections.

That trade will become official in March. 

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