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Charity Set Up After RI Fire Has Had Modest Effect

Among the possible reasons given for the small number of children who have received scholarships: Many of the children â¿¿ perhaps dozens â¿¿ are not yet college age. (Four were not even born when the fire happened and are now 9 years old.) Some children never even graduated from high school and chose not to go to college. And many families bitterly swore they'd never take a dime from the Derderian brothers.

But many families contacted by the AP said they had never heard of the fund and wished they had known about it so they could have taken advantage of it. Others complained it can be hard to contact. People who tried in recent months found the phone number disconnected and said emails went unanswered.

The brothers were owners of The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., when pyrotechnics set off by the heavy metal band Great White ignited flammable foam installed inside the club as soundproofing. The Derderians pleaded no contest to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in 2006. Jeffrey was sentenced to community service, and Michael served less than three years of a four-year prison term.

While Michael was still behind bars in 2007, Jeffrey Derderian and King, along with their wives, announced they were starting the Station Education Fund. King said at the time that the fund was primarily geared toward children from kindergarten through 12th grade, with the money covering expenses such as tutoring, proms and athletic equipment.

Some of the victims' families praised the brothers. Others were skeptical they would be able to raise enough money to make a difference to children growing up without their parents. Some accused the Derderians of using the charity to try to make themselves look good. The first fundraiser was held a few months before Michael Derderian went before the parole board for the first time in 2008.

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