Ray Charles Foundation demands university return $3 million gift

In 2001 and 2002, Ray Charles made two donations totaling $3 million to Albany State University to build a performing arts center in his name. The school has yet to follow through on completing their end of the arrangement and now the late musician’s organization, The Ray Charles Foundation, is asking for that money to be returned. The group is arguing that Charles was very specific about how he wanted the money to be spent when he gifted it and as of now, the project seems to only exist “on the drawing board and in an unapproved downsized plan,” according to a statement from the foundation.

The university, however, is insisting that Charles’s donation was never restricted and that they’re continuing to search for additional funding for the building, which is estimated to cost at least $23 million to get up and running. “It has been a long and tedious process, but strides have been made in accomplishing this goal,” said the school’s spokesman Demetrius Love in an email statement. “Albany State University will continue in its efforts of honoring Mr. Ray Charles by constructing a fine arts building in his name.” He says plans have been burdened in recent years by increased budget cuts and a lack of state funding.

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Troy • February 16, 2012 @ 11:44 AM

    Leave it alone…what’s 3 million going to do to build an entire theatre? That’s pennies. I don’t blame the school for holding off. The foundation should back off

  2. Tyrone • February 16, 2012 @ 2:53 PM

    Garth Brooks just recently won in court for the same reason. A hospital promised to build a building in his mothers name then did not follow through. Therefore the foundation is in the right to ask and get their money back.

  3. David • February 16, 2012 @ 2:57 PM

    The foundation shouldn’t have taken the money unless it was prepared to start building. Give it back.

  4. Rita • February 16, 2012 @ 9:16 PM

    David – what is the University going to do? Build Part of it and leave it to decay untill they get the rest of the $$, to build the rest of it?? They have to wait to get the rest of the money, so they can build the entire building! I hope they are telling the Truth. If they aren’t they don’t deserve even the 3 mils.

  5. Tayderhead • February 18, 2012 @ 5:44 AM

    So the bldg costs $23 mil. And if the Ray Charles Foundation donated $3 mil & someone else comes along & donates $20 mil it should still be named after Ray Charles??? I think NOT!

  6. gbh999 • February 19, 2012 @ 1:31 PM

    Did the school promise to build and name a building for Mr. Charles, before he made his donation? If they did, then he has every right to demand his money back, because it would seem that he was being duped by a disingenuous school, in the first place. In fact it could border on fraud. Just because he is dead, do you think that his foundation, has run out of rights?
    Perhaps, we should wait for the “rest of the story”.

  7. jjjones • February 23, 2012 @ 12:24 PM

    Until the full details are known, it’s a 50/50 issue of they said/they said. It takes a long time to fundraise for such a big project, so unless the project is dead altogether which is what happened in Garth Brooks’ case, then the money should be allowed to sit and earn interest for the project. That’s my take without knowing any more detail than what I read above.

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