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Role Models' future grants not certain

June 07, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Role Models America, which wants to open a military-style academy for high school dropouts at a former Army base, has been awarded funding for one year, not five as Role Models America officials have said, two U.S. Labor Department representatives said Wednesday.

Max Andrews, Role Models vice president of operations, said Tuesday the organization would receive grants of $10 million each year for five years through the U.S. Department of Labor.

Labor Department spokesman David Stewart and Laura Cesario, a department grant officer, said Wednesday that is not the case.

The government is awarding Role Models a $10 million grant for the academy's first year of operation, with money coming from the department's fiscal 1999 funds, Stewart said. That grant has been approved, but the paperwork won't be finished until later this month, he said.

Cesario said, however, funding for such projects is allocated on an annual basis and decisions on funding organizations will receive in subsequent years are not made until later.

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Robert Alexander, Role Models founder and president, said Wednesday that while the organization expects to receive $50 million over five years, not all of the money is yet allocated.

He said the paperwork for a second $10 million allotment, using fiscal 2000 funds, will be approved shortly.

But Stewart and Cesario said they are not aware of any further commitments.

Role Models plans to open the college preparatory school for high school dropouts at the former Fort Ritchie in the fall.

Andrews announced the $50 million commitment Tuesday following meetings between Role Models and PenMar Development Corp., which is leasing space at the fort near Cascade to Role Models.

PenMar is the Maryland General Assembly-created organization charged with bringing in businesses to replace the 2,000 jobs lost when the base closed in September 1998.

Andrews also said Tuesday that the Maryland-based nonprofit organization would make an offer to buy the entire 638-acre Fort Ritchie base within the next year. He said private funds would be used to take out a 50-year mortgage for the purchase but would not identify where the money would come from.

He said he did not know what the base would cost but said it would be more than the $2.5 million the U.S. Army paid for the land in the 1950s.

Andrews could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Role Model representatives are scheduled to meet Monday with the PenMar board during PenMar's monthly meeting to address some complaints the school has about PenMar.

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