The Masons are the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world, with a rich history in the U.S. that dates back to colonial times-George Washington was among the first Masons in the then newly formed United States. A cornerstone of Scottish Rite Masonry is a wholehearted commitment to volunteerism. Masons do their charitable work at a level where real differences can be made in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Following the philanthropic precedent of many other Masonic charities, notably the Shriners Burns Hospitals, the Children's Learning Centers Program represents a substantial charitable commitment. This commitment totaled $7 million in 2003 and we anticipate that the program will grow to even greater capacity in coming years.
In 1994, the Scottish Rite Masons joined forces with the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital to launch a major endeavor to help ease the life-long burdens of dyslexia. Until the Children's Learning Centers were launched in the 15 states of this organization's Northern Jurisdiction, no other national charity had adopted this critical need as a major concern. Although studies revealed the existence of remarkably effective programs for treating dyslexia, no one was addressing the issue and its cost to individuals and society in a systematic way.
The initial goal was to open 59 Learning Centers in 15 states. At that time, the Masons made the following philanthropic pledges:
To help children with dyslexia learn to read and to reach their full potential;
To help their families end the frustration, guilt, and disruption caused by dyslexia;
To help communities by building Learning Centers to help youngsters succeed in and out of school; and to fully fund this endeavor.
Currently 53 Children's Dyslexia Centers in 13 states provide tutoring at no charge to children from kindergarten through high school who have been diagnosed as dyslexic. Children are eligible regardless of economic status, race, religion, or Masonic affiliation. The positive impact of early intervention on the lives of these children and their families is enormous, and inspires our commitment to this program.
Additionally the Scottish Rite Masons Southern Jurisdiction runs 165 Rite Care clinics, centers and special programs for children with learning disabilities other than dyslexia.