Ravens, kids group at odds over funds BUILD rejects $40,000 offer, asks $300,000 for Child First

April 19, 1997|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

The Ravens and a church-based community group are at an apparent impasse in talks to fund an after-school program for city children the team said it would help.

At the height of the legislative battle to preserve stadium funding last year, the Ravens, through the Maryland Stadium Authority, committed to a program of charitable giving. Among the proposed beneficiaries: the Child First Authority, a group created by BUILD, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, and authorized by state law.

BUILD is seeking a commitment of $300,000 a year each from the Ravens and Orioles, as well as other contributions from downtown employers, foundations and governments. The Orioles have not committed to an annual grant yet, but team owner Peter Angelos contributed $500,000 from his personal foundation.

BUILD rejected a Ravens offer of $40,000 for each of the next three years and the two sides have not met since late last year. The team now says it will explore funding other nonprofit groups assisting children in the city.

But BUILD activists plan to picket the Ravens' draft party today at the Sheraton Inner Harbor, to connect the issue with the high salaries the team will pay.

"We're trying to get them back to the bargaining table," said Kathleen O'Toole, lead organizer of BUILD. "We want the kids of Baltimore to be their 10th draft pick."

She wants the team to dedicate a specific revenue source to the group. BUILD is trying to raise $4 million a year in committed revenue so it can both operate and raise money from bonds for capital expenses.

The aim is to expand its after-school enrichment and education program, now in a handful of schools, to 40 schools citywide.

The Ravens were quoted, in a March 20, 1996, letter sent to legislative leaders by the stadium authority, as saying Child First was one of the programs to which it would like to "contribute annually and on an ongoing basis." The team said it expected its levels of charitable giving to all organizations to at least match the $300,000 a year it averaged in Cleveland.

But Ravens spokesman David Hopcraft said the team and BUILD have been unable to agree on the size and structure of a contribution. The team's Ravens Foundation for Families gave away about $145,000 last year to a variety of other charities, and hopes to give more this year, he said.

"We seem to be at an impasse because they seem unable or unwilling to understand our situation as a start-up foundation and we are unable or unwilling to understand their approach to giving," Hopcraft said.

"Maybe, after we move into the new stadium and as our foundation grows and we begin to generate some revenues and as they run their program for a few years, maybe that's the time to look at this again."

Pub Date: 4/19/97

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