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Nonprofit weighing move here Youth foundation now based in Mich.


The International Youth Foundation Inc. is thinking about moving to Maryland, and, as is typical these days, it is seeking financial help. What's different is the kind of assistance the Michigan-based nonprofit group is asking for.

In addition to real estate guidance and possible government help, IYF hopes to land significant donations from private philanthropic groups in or near its new home.

This month, IYF officials have met not only with state and city economic development officials but also with representatives of Maryland's most well-heeled foundations, including the Joseph Meyerhoff Fund.

"There's some pretty significant upfront costs associated with relocating the foundation -- probably around a million bucks," said Doane Kelly of Kelly, Legan & Gerard, a New York-based relocation consultancy hired by IYF. "Longer term, they're looking for an affinity" with other area charities and "hopefully some long-term support as well."

The finalists for IYF's home are Baltimore, Annapolis, Atlanta and London. IYF may also choose to stay in Battle Creek, Mich., but foundation representatives said the group's search was launched on the assumption that it needed a home with a higher profile, proximity to other charities and better transportation.

IYF isn't a large organization. It has 25 workers and had an administrative and fund-raising budget of less than $2 million last year. Its total budget, including grants and programs, was $12.7 million for 1994, and thus far all its projects have been overseas.

But the group, started in 1990 with an endowment from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and dedicated to improving the lot and education of young people around the world, wants to grow. And local authorities say luring it to Maryland would polish the state's reputation as a hub for nonprofits.

Catholic Relief Services moved its world headquarters to Baltimore in 1989. And the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a well-endowed charity dedicated to disadvantaged children, moved to the city last year.

Local development and charity officials declined to disclose what offers, if any, are being made to IYF. The group's managers are scheduled to present a recommendation for a new site to their board of directors on Oct. 7 in the Philippines.

"What Baltimore gives them is a certain amount of synergy with other philanthropic organizations that are doing the same thing they are," said George B. Hess Jr., vice president of the Joseph Meyerhoff Fund. "It also gives them a few foundations that are potential" donors. "It also gives them a city that can benefit from their creativity. Baltimore has plenty of youth problems."

Don Mohanlal, chief operating officer for IYF, said that Baltimore foundations "have come up with a way to support some of the transition costs" if the charity were to move here. He did not identify them.

If local private charities do agree to help IYF, said Mr. Kelly, don't expect piles of legal documents to seal the deals.

"In Baltimore, we're talking about some pretty heavyweight people," he said. "When they look you in the eye and shake your hand, you take them seriously. What I'm saying is, I don't think we need a lot of lawyers to run around the thing."

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