Early Briefing: AOL Cuts Back On Local Donations

Here's some of the local business stories in today's newspaper:

AOL stopped its annual pledge to Greater D.C. Cares and cut funding of the Loudoun Summer Music Fest. (Photo By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)

* AOL is scaling back its philanthropic contributions in the Washington region as it reinvents itself as a global Internet advertising firm.

This month, AOL cut funding to the Loudoun Foundation's annual summer music festival, an event it co-founded and to which it donated $60,000 to $80,000 each year. The company previously shuttered its AOL Aspires grant program, which funded activities for scores of local schools, and halted its annual pledge to Greater D.C. Cares. Loudoun Youth Inc. received what it regards as its last AOL check this year. And AOL has eliminated a community investment office through several rounds of layoffs.

The shift is part of AOL's new business strategy, focusing on online advertising. The firm recently moved its headquarters from Dulles to New York and expanded operations outside the United States, launching portals across Europe.

"In the past, we focused on Northern Virginia, but our aspiration is to really reflect the areas where we have a major presence, which now includes Bangalore, [India]; London; New York and Mountain View, [Calif.]," said AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley, who heads a smaller community-investment group. AOL plans to announce global giving initiatives in early 2008.

See the rest of the story here.

* The FBI this month launched a mortgage fraud task force, gathering federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax counties to map out a strategy to tackle the issue region-wide. One of the federal investigations is centered on Rippon Landing, according to Steve Durst, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service spokesman for the D.C. division, whose agency investigates mortgage fraud because it involves use of the mail. See story.

* McLean's Booz Allen Hamilton is considering whether to split itself in two -- one half incorporating its government work and the other its commercial activities. See story.

* Sallie Mae CEO Albert Lord has seen his stake in the student lending giant decline sharply since the unraveling of a deal to take the firm private. See story.

* Shave and a haircut: 920 bits.

It may cost a lot more than the two bits of old, but the traditional barbershop shave is making a comeback. Even as the service disappears from old-style barbershops, a new generation of Washington area chins is discovering the indulgent pleasures of the hot-towel, warm-lather professional shave at upscale salons, men's spas and specialty retail shops. See story.

* DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and a commercial development team have agreed on an $850 million deal to build retail shops, apartments and condominiums on public land where the city's former convention center once stood. See story.

* Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown pledged yesterday that the state will pay for "a substantial portion" of more than $70 million in transportation projects sought by Montgomery County as it prepares for the expansion of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. See story.

By Dan Beyers  |  December 18, 2007; 7:13 AM ET  | Category:  AOL
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It's interesting that it's mentioned that AOL is planning to contribute more globally, specifically London. It is my understanding that AOL has stopped supporting NSPCC since Dana Dunne is in office in London, an organisation that AOL Europe had supported over the last few years and worked with. Hopefully the global expansion does not reduce AOL's social responsibility and credibility!

Posted by: Maria D. | December 19, 2007 10:28 AM

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