American Community Properties Trust, the developer of the planned community of St. Charles, has pledged $150,000 to support the proposed Children's Learning Center at the La Plata campus of the College of Southern Maryland.

The gift, announced this week by the college, will help finance construction of the $1.2 million project. The CSM Foundation is engaged in a campaign to raise $500,000 for the initial design and work on the center. With more than $300,000 committed toward that goal, the college is planning to break ground on the project in mid-September.

As a result of the gift, the new 10,000-square-foot facility will be named the St. Charles Children's Learning Center at the College of Southern Maryland. College officials expressed special appreciation to J. Michael Wilson, American Community Properties Trust chairman, and Edwin L. Kelly, company president and chief operating officer, who were instrumental in arranging the donation.

"This child care and learning center will enable our students and community to have affordable and quality child care close to home, work and school," CSM Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph F. Shannon Jr. said in the announcement. He noted that the center will also serve a training role in the school's early childhood development program.

"Excellent schools are the cornerstone of excellent communities," Kelly said. He said the donation furthers efforts by the developers of St. Charles to meet the educational, employment and recreational needs of that community, in addition to providing benefits for Charles County.

Other major donors are:

* Community Bank of Tri-County, $25,000.

* Student Government Association, $10,000.

* Applied Ordnance Technology, $5,000.

* Vincent and Evelyn Hungerford, $5,000.

* 100 Builders' Club, $85,000; the goal is 100 individuals or businesses who each contribute $1,000.

* Waldorf Jaycees, a major sponsor of the fundraising effort, which has provided a venue for various activities, including a comedy wedding show planned Oct. 8.

The child center project was undertaken after a recent student survey found that "finding acceptable child care" was among the top five issues students face while attending the college.

The goal is to provide learning experiences and quality child care at a reasonable cost, said Michele Goodwin, director of advancement at the college.

A number of seats will be reserved for students, who will be charged a lower rate and have access to part-time child care.

The remaining seats will be available to the community on a first-come, first-served basis.

All funds for construction are being raised privately.

Information about how to contribute is available from the CSM Foundation, 301-934-7649, or online at www.csmd.edu/foundation.