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Casey Foundation to offer $400,000 in local grants

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is launching a $400,000 grants program today intended to make life a little better for Baltimore's disadvantaged children.

The money will be disbursed to public agencies and nonprofit community organizations that provide health care, counseling, education, recreation or cultural enrichment to the city's deprived children.

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"We are trying to have as an immediate impact as we can in improving outcomes for disadvantaged children and families in Baltimore," said Warren Simmons, director of Baltimore relations the foundation.

Letters have been sent to 274 possible groups, seeking applications. The recipients include big organizations such as the city's public school system and small ones such as the Everyman Theatre on Charles Street.

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Bill Rust, a spokesman for the foundation that 10 months ago moved to Baltimore from Greenwich, Conn., said the money will be given out in some 30 to 40 grants, ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 each.

"When we came here in August our idea was to do something for the city that is our home," said Mr. Rust.

The grants will be one-shot affairs for the most part. Organizations that win one this year could not expect to get another in the near future.

In addition to the $400,000 direct grants program, the foundation has set aside another $750,000 for the city. It will be spent this year in connection with Baltimore's Empowerment Zone projects, the urban revitalization efforts funded by a $100 million federal grant.

Both programs will last for at least five years, said Douglas W. Nelson, executive director of the Casey Foundation. Funding levels over that time will remain at or be greater than this year's.

Roger I. Lyons, head of the Baltimore Urban League, predicted the grants program would be especially valuable to small community organizations. "It will allow them to make a difference in children's lives," he said.

The Direct Grants Program for Baltimore is a departure from the Casey Foundation's usual strategy, which, Mr. Simmons said, "is focused on improving systems."

The foundation generally finances new ways of delivering services to children. The foundation hopes these innovative ideas will influence larger providers of child care, such as state or city governments, to adopt the new approach.


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