By Rachel O'Brien
Deputy Policy Editor, OpenTheBooks.com
On June 3, 2022, we sampled 50 nonprofits receiving city grants and found that 15 received $21 million but were not in compliance with the state statutes on charitable solicitation.
Here's the update two months later...
There are ten that owed fees and only three paid the fees and are now in compliance with state law. Two organizations weren't assessed a late fee; and two organizations are closed and can't solicit donations. The state had one organization wrong on its website and the organization was compliant with state law.
Furthermore, Visit Balitmore Education and Training Foundation still owes fines and is not in compliance with the Maryland Charitable Solicitation Act. The parent organization, Visit Baltimore, received roughly $30 million in city funding for travel during the pandemic and is funded from a city tax.
We requested comment from city comptroller Bill Henry and Al Hutchenson, the CEO of Visit Baltimore.
Here's a sample of our findings:
- Following up on the investigation, 15 city charities received $21 million in taxpayer-funded grants. Turns out that only four are now in compliance with state law, 9 aren't in compliance, and two are closed. All but one received city funds in FY2021.
- These organizations -- that owe the state late fees and are not current to solicit funds -- received funds from the city and support city services for the homeless, Safe Streets, education, health care, and more.
- Visit Baltimore Education and Training Foundation -- this is a particularly troubling case, considering the parent organization, Visit Baltimore is funded by a city tax and received tens of millions of dollars for 'travel' when travel was shut down during the pandemic.
We contacted the Maryland Secretary of State's office and asked specifically about the following 15 organizations. Here are their statuses as of last week:
These organizations were not current on the Maryland Secretary of State charitable website, June 3, 2022 (updated 8/5/2022):
- Baltimore Community Mediation Center/Community Mediation Program ($366,000 in city payments): Not paid a late fee to date | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Community Law in Action Inc. ($24,824 in city payments): Paid part of their late fee | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Dayspring Programs Inc. ($7.1 million in city payments): Paid late fee | But Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Enterprise Community Partners Inc. Organization should have been listed as current; submitted annual registration on time last year, should not have displayed as out of compliance on our website, website should be updated tomorrow to reflect that
- Family Health Centers of Baltimore Inc. ($700,000 in city payments): Not paid a late fee to date | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Family Recovery Program Inc. ($97,909 in city payments): Not paid a late fee to date | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Health Care for the Homeless Paid late fee and now has current registration
- Hearing and Speech Agency of Metropolitan Baltimore Inc.: ($80,557): Not paid a late fee to date | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Learning Is For Tomorrow ($62,000 in city payments): Not paid a late fee to date | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Reservoir Hill Improvement Council Inc. ($111,389 in city payments): Not paid a late fee to date | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
- Total Health Care Inc. ($874,379 in city payments): Not paid a late fee to date | Not in compliance, 8/5/2022
These two applied to register under the Maryland Solicitation Act but had not submitted all of the required information to be registered and in full compliance with the Act and can’t solicit charitable donations.
- Youth Empowered Society Inc. Not assessed late fees
- New Vision House of Hope Inc. ($46,000 in city payments): Not assessed late fees
These two were deemed closed, as the organization has ceased all charitable solicitations in Maryland or has failed to file the required documentation.
- People’s Homesteading Group Inc. ($80,000 in city payments): Registration closed, no late fees due
- Sisters Together and Reaching Inc. ($701,000 in city payments): Registration closed, no late fees due
(Source: city payments from FY2021)
We reached out to Comptroller Bill Henry and CEO of Visit Baltimore Al Hutchenson and didn't receive a response by the deadline.