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Alex. Brown giving back to its roots; Founding marked with $5.5 million gift to local nonprofits


Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its Baltimore-based investment banking business by giving $5.5 million to local nonprofit organizations -- more than double the amount it usually gives each year.

The charitable program, to be unveiled at a celebration Friday, is part of a series of events to honor the Baltimore founding of Alex. Brown Inc. in 1800 by Irish immigrant Alexander Brown.

The gifts will put the company's name -- the historical designation as well as the newer, merged version -- on new buildings throughout the region, including an education center run by the Living Classrooms Foundation and a new technology and entrepreneurship program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In addition to giving back to the community of its roots, the company -- acquired twice in the past three years -- is trying to send a reassuring message that while its parent company's headquarters is no longer in Baltimore, it can still act like a local institution.

"We wanted to use the opportunity to commemorate the old Alex. Brown name, specifically in Baltimore, on some edifices that would have some long-lasting value," said Mayo A. Shattuck III, co-chairman and co-chief executive officer of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. "We also wanted to spread the new name ... to some things that were programmatically consistent."

Alex. Brown and its employees have long been known for generosity in Baltimore. The firm has regularly had more members than any other company in the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of the United Way of Central Maryland -- those who give $10,000 a year or more. Last year, the company had 52 members.

The company also has conducted fund-raising drives for organizations such as Port Discovery, the children's museum, to which it gave $1 million in 1998.

The 200th anniversary charitable program will add $3.5 million to the Alex. Brown Charitable Foundation's $2 million annual giving program, $1 million of the new money coming from parent company Deutsche Bank AG.

The gifts include:

$1 million to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for the Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown Center for Technology and Science Entrepreneurship. The undergraduate certificate program, to begin this fall, will focus on training students majoring in science and technology in practical business and management skills.

$800,000 to the Walters Art Gallery, in partnership with the Baltimore public schools and SuperKids Camp, for a hands-on art curriculum for second-, third- and fourth-graders.

$200,000 to the Walters for an exhibit early next year of Edouard Manet's still-life paintings.

$500,000 to expand and renovate the New Song Community Learning Center in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore, including the construction of a new Alex. Brown lending library that will serve the center and the neighborhood.

$500,000 to the Living Classrooms Foundation to stabilize and renovate a sugarhouse at Chase Wharf -- the oldest industrial building standing on the Baltimore waterfront - and name it the Alex. Brown Maritime Education Center. The center will be part of the planned Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Project, a learning laboratory to celebrate the state's African-American maritime history and promote waterfront tourism.

$500,000 to the Maryland Institute, College of Art to begin a drive for its first new academic building since 1904. The building, which will cost $7 million to $8 million, is to feature a 600-seat auditorium, labs, classrooms and studio space, including room for expanded community outreach activities.

The projects were chosen from about 20 proposals focusing on youth, Shattuck said. "The idea was that if we invested more in local children and young adults, we were enabling these organizations to help young people with better opportunities," he said.

The Living Classrooms grant, the largest in that organization's 15-year history, makes it certain that the waterfront sugarhouse will be restored, said foundation president James Piper Bond.

Susan Tibbells, executive director of the New Song Community Learning Center, said the new library is sorely needed. Young children cannot easily get to the nearest public library, at the busy intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues, she said.

"It'll be a safe place where children can come and read a book after school," Tibbells said.

For UMBC, the gift will foster business skills for undergraduates whose majors often don't provide them. "The key is, nationally, most entrepreneurship programs are in business schools, and most people that take them are business students," said Sheldon Caplis, vice president for institutional advancement.

At Maryland Institute, the money will help with a more basic need. "We are out of room," said Douglas Frost, vice president for development.

A separate anniversary gift from the Alex. Brown Charitable Foundation will create a $200,000 matching gift program for the United Way of Central Maryland to encourage more $10,000 givers over the next three years.

Friday's birthday party for the investment firm will also feature a giant cake at the Inner Harbor and free admission this weekend to museums and other local attractions. Celebrations also will take place in 17 other cities with offices that historically have carried the Alex. Brown name.

The company was sold in 1997 to Bankers Trust New York Corp., which was acquired by Deutsche Bank AG in 1999.

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