International Youth Foundation
Locates in Baltimore

by Alice Cherbonnier

WHEN the International Youth Foundation (IYF) decided to move from its first location in Battle Creek, Michigan, it considered 20 cities in the U.S. and Europe. The search narrowed to two: Atlanta and Baltimore. And Baltimore won.

In June the IYF settled into temporary headquarters on the 8th floor of The Brokerage at 34 Market Place. Negotiations are under way for a permanent site downtown.

"We decided on Baltimore primarily because the city was overwhelmingly receptive," said Douglas Franklin, IYF's director of social marketing-a Canadian job title that translates roughly into the American "public information officer." "We also considered Annapolis, but Baltimore was exceptionally gracious and extremely active in its encouragement." This city's supportiveness, coupled with its easy international access through BWI, Dulles, and National airports and "its proximity to D.C. without being in D.C." were the primary deciding factors.

Why would city and state officials pay so much attention to this relatively small organization? For the IYF is no corporate behometh; its 22-member staff has grown to only 30 since the move, and most staffers are not from Baltimore. Its $14 million annual budget is largely spent on overseas projects.

So the reasons for the ardent courtship of the IYF weren't jobs and money-at least, not directly. But the IYF is a far bigger and more important organization than its small staff would imply. It serves as a catalyst for improved conditions for young people between the ages of 5 and 20-an age range identified as under-served by the IYF's founders. Its nine-member multinational board of directors has an exceptionally high profile, assuring that the IYF's message is heard in major boardrooms and high government offices.

"Most support for children goes for ages zero to five," said Mr. Franklin, "and focuses on survival. The later age group has been neglected. We deal with issues such as child labor and child prostitution."

IYF operates directly in nine countries-the Philippines, Thailand, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, South Africa, Ecuador, and Australia-and indirectly in 30 other countries through partnerships with other foundations.

The goal of IYF programs is to "educate to change how people act," said Mr. Franklin. "We share information on what works. We're a catalyst to coordinate. We don't re-invent the wheel. All our projects must be sustainable-able to continue once they're established without our support."

IYF stresses corporate involvement in solving the problems of youth. "We try to get companies to care about children," said Mr. Franklin, "because they are our future. Helping them will earn companies a good return on investment."

Overseas companies soon won't be the only ones whose consciousness will be raised by the IYF. "We're just in the process of launching a U.S. program," said Mr. Franklin, "and we expect we'll start with inner city youth in Baltimore."

He pointed out that in about four years' time half the world's population-about 5 billion people-will be under the age of 20. The problems the world faces from this burgeoning population are enormous, but can be mitigated if dealt with effectively at the earliest possible stages. "There are effective programs that do work," Mr. Franklin stressed.

The IYF was founded in 1990 with seed money and ongoing support from the Kellogg Foundation (hence the Battle Creek address). The foundation has committed $68 million to the effort, to be paid out through the year 2002; much of this support is in the form of matching funds. According to Mr. Franklin, the IYF has raised a total of about $110 million to date, including Kellogg funds.

For more information about the work of the IYF, call 347-1500.

Another Baltimore-based organization dealing with international issues is Catholic Relief Services. Headquartered at 209 W. Franklin St., CRS has 175 employees here, and over 1800 more world-wide. Its annual budget is about $270 million. CRS welcomes donations from the public; send to CRS, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, also located in Baltimore, focuses on youth concerns in the U.S. For information, call 547-6600.

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This story was published on Wednesday, August 7, 1996.