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Baltimore’s Inspector General investigating Strong City over mismanaged grant funds

The Baltimore Inspector General’s Office is conducting an investigation into allegations that Strong City Baltimore has mismanaged funds for grassroots organizations, according to representatives of two such groups who spoke with investigators.

Citing policy, the office of Inspector General Isabel Cumming declined to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

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Kevin Anderson, the founder and executive director of an organization called NewFIT, confirmed he had spoken with investigators from Cumming’s office. Rosheda Harrell and Kim Sauer, co-founders of the group Fearlessly Loving Yourself, also told The Sun that they had spoken to the office’s investigators.

“The survivability of my organization is at stake now in part because of the mishandling of my account with Strong City,” Anderson said.

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Strong City acknowledged in a statement last week that it had been struggling with managing some of its 156 accounts, blaming the problems in part on its rapid growth in recent years as it expanded from a neighborhood organization to a “fiscal sponsor” that helps smaller groups manage their funds.

The probe, and Strong City’s ongoing problems, were first reported by the Baltimore Brew.

Earlier this year, Strong City celebrated the opening of its new headquarters in the redeveloped former A. Hoen & Co. Lithograph building in East Baltimore, but its longtime CEO departed a short time later along with other key staff.

Interim CEO Reginald Davis said Friday that “I am unaware of any [Office of the Inspector General] investigation or been contacted.”

In its statement last week, Strong City said it has “lacked the sophisticated technologies, staff capacity, tools and communication protocols necessary” to keep up with projects. It said it was working to fix the problems and improve communication, which Davis said last week was one of the key concerns raised by frustrated groups it works with.

“Simply put, we have made mistakes as an organization, and the past few months have been a time of intense self-reflection for us,” the group’s board wrote in a letter to affected organizations.

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