Best-selling Author Mitch Albom Donates $10,000 to U Prep Academy Debate Team

University Prep Academy named beneficiary of 2013 Second Annual S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon at local press conference

Detroit, Mich. (March 26, 2014) – Mitch Albom, international best-selling author and noted journalist, today announced his $10,000 donation to University Prep Academy (UPA) High School’s tournament-winning debate team. The debate team is one of several local charitable organizations and programs benefitting from the proceeds raised at Albom’s 2013 Second Annual S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon hosted at Somerset Collection on December 5, 2013. The funds will be used to help send members of the team to the uber-competitive Tournament of Champions (TOC) next month. Having recently received its fourth bid to attend the TOC, the UPA debaters will be the first African-American team to compete at this highly regarded national tournament. The day-long S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon raised nearly $400,000 for its charitable partners.

“We’re proud to help sponsor the magnificent and much-needed work of these Detroit charities, and we’re grateful to all the caring people who donate each year to our Radiothon and make this possible,” said Albom. “Our goal is to give it all away, and we are.”

University Prep Academy (UPA), one of two districts in the University Prep Schools charter system, is no stranger to competition. The team recently took first place at the 2014 California Invitational held February 15-17 at the University of California, Berkeley. Now ranked seventh in the nation by the National Debate Coaches Association, the UPA debate team was the first-ever African-American team to win the Cal High School Forensics Tournament. The win not only earned them the ranking of seventh in the nation, but a fourth bid to the TOC which will be held at the University of Kentucky on April 26-28. While the success of the team is inarguable, competing in a large-scale event such as the TOC comes with a significant price tag. Tournaments can cost upwards of $1,000 per student for travel, accommodations and entry fees, making it harder for urban public charter schools such as UPA, to compete at the national level.

“It is the generosity and support of people like Mitch Albom and the many listeners that donated to the S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon, that will help turn dreams into reality for these kids,” said Sharon Hopkins, UPA High School debate coach. “These students have already overcome unimaginable obstacles – they built this team, they continue to beat the odds and they deserve the chance to compete at the highest level. This contribution puts us one step closer to making that happen.”

Hopkins launched the team in 2010 with 20 eager students that competed monthly against Detroit area, public, private, and charter schools at Wayne State University. In its first year, the team was chosen as one of only two schools to represent Detroit at the National Urban Debate Tournament in New York City in the spring of 2012. A member of the Detroit Urban Debate League, the team has consistently grown since its inaugural year having ranked and/or won several tournaments on a local, regional and national scale.For more information about the team’s progress or to find out how to support the UPA debaters, visit

About University Prep Academy (UPA)

A University Prep Schools (U Prep Schools) district, University Preparatory Academy (UPA) encompasses five Detroit-based schools including two elementary schools, along with both a middle and high school. UPA High School opened in September of 2003, as UPA’s first middle school students were finishing eighth grade. The UPA district offers students a private school education for a public school cost. Through a combination of individualized and expeditionary learning models, U Prep Schools students are afforded the unique opportunity to learn in an environment that extends education beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. Guided by a commitment to preparing students for the world around them, U Prep Schools foster a holistic approach to learning that is rooted in providing its students access, opportunity and experience. For more information about UPA, U Prep Schools or any of its campuses, visit