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Federal and state authorities last week were investigating the abrupt closure of a Massachusetts company that owed trips to Europe to as many as 5,000 people, the majority of them high school students and teachers.

Milestone Educational Institute of Cambridge, Mass., which also operated as the American Leadership Study Group, abruptly closed its doors this month after collecting money for summer tours abroad from people in at least 10 states.

Based on the fact that Milestone charged its clients $1,000 to $3,000 each to organize their tours abroad, authorities have estimated that the company may have collected as much as $10 million before closing.

William J. McMullin, a special agent in the Boston office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, last week confirmed that the F.B.I. was probing the firm's financial transactions to determine if federal fraud statutes had been violated.

Attorney General Scott Harshbarger of Massachusetts is also examining the company's dealings, although a spokeswoman declined to say whether a formal investigation had been launched.

The company had not declared bankruptcy as of last week, the spokeswoman said.

Callers to the company last week got a recording saying the firm "is suspending operations, having encountered severe financial difficulties, and cannot complete the scheduled tours.''

"The situation is being assessed by our financial personnel in order to get an accurate picture of the funds available for refunds,'' the recording said. "There is no further information available at this time.''

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Neither Milestone Educational Institute nor the American Leadership Study Group is included in a list compiled by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, a Leesburg, Va.-based organization that requires applicants for listing to submit financial statements and other documents to verify their legitimacy.

Young children in the United States are less likely to be immunized against a range of diseases than are children in developing countries, according to a report released this month by the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF.

The report, "The State of the World's Children 1993,'' reports, for example, that 95 percent of 1-year-olds in Mexico, 89 percent of those in India, and 91 percent of those in Thailand were immunized against polio in 1991.

Nearly 80 percent of the world's children are fully immunized now, saving three million lives each year, the report states.

In contrast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 37 percent and 56 percent of 2-year-olds in this country did not receive all the federally recommended vaccinations in 1991.

The Clinton Administration has proposed an immunization plan to provide free vaccines to needy children and to increase funding for vaccine recordkeeping and outreach to parents.

Private giving to 287 of the nation's independent K-12 schools rose 7.5 percent between the 1990-91 and the 1991-92 school years, according to a survey released last week.

Giving outpaced inflation after failing to do so the previous two years, according to the survey, which was conducted by the New York City-based Council for Aid to Education. The council calculated the rate of inflation between the 1990-91 and 1991-92 school years to be 3.2 percent, using the Consumer Price Index adjusted on an academic-year basis.

Total giving to the 351 schools participating in the most recent survey was $431.7 million during the 1991-92 academic year, with an average of $1.23 million per school and a median donation of $786,000.

Among the 287 schools participating in both surveys, giving by alumni rose 8 percent, giving by parents rose 9.8 percent, and giving by foundations rose 7.1 percent on average.

Corporate contributions remained unchanged after rising an average of 3.1 percent the previous year, reflecting a general trend in decreased corporate giving during the recent recession, the report states.

Members of a specific minority group make up more than half of the total population in nearly 6 percent of the nation's counties, according to federal tabulations from the 1990 U.S. Census released last week.

In 46 of the nation's 3,248 counties, the members of various minority groups, taken together, account for more than three-quarters of the population, according to Census Bureau data.

Texas had the largest number of jurisdictions in which members of racial or ethnic minority groups now constitute the majority, followed by California, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

The new tabulations of local data on racial and Hispanic-origin groups are available by calling the Census Bureau's population division at (301) 763-5002.

Vol. 12, Issue 38

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