The Community Foundation manages several charitable funds that benefit cultural groups and organizations. In early 2023, the Kutztown Pipe Band, which is made up of students, faculty, and staff from Kutztown University, local students, and community members, requested a grant from the Juniper Fund to buy materials for its Learn About Bagpipes program. The band created this program to promote excitement and enthusiasm for Scottish music and culture.
The band first introduced the program at both Conrad Weiser East Elementary and Conrad Weiser West Elementary. Band members gave demonstrations during assemblies in which students heard songs played on various forms of bagpipes. Laura Sherrod, pipe major of the Kutztown Pipe Band, and Diana Cook, member of the Kutztown Pipe Band and an elementary music teacher, gave these demonstrations. If students had questions, they could get answers from the pipers directly during a special panel called “Ask the Piper.”
Kutztown Pipe Band hopes to expand its educational opportunities to include more adult programming. The first adult event took place at the Kutztown Public Library. Libraries pay a discounted fee to host the Kutztown Pipe Band for educational sessions, while demonstrations are free to schools thanks to the grant funding and the generosity of the members of the Kutztown Pipe Band who volunteer their time to educate students on Scottish history.
The Kutztown Pipe Band began with five piping students in 2017 and now has more than two dozen members.
In 2022, the band started the Learn About Bagpipes program to educate audiences about the instrument and to instill in them a deeper appreciation of Scottish Heritage. The musicians tailor each demonstration to the audience, and describe the history and functionality of the instruments, and play different tunes on different bagpipes.
The Juniper Fund of Berks County Community Foundation was established in 2010 by The Murray Clan Society of North America to support the education, promotion and preservation of the history, heritage and traditions of Scotland.
The fund provides financial support for the following purposes but is not limited to:
- Individuals to improve basic skills in Scottish music, dance, art, cuisine, etc.
- Activities to promote enrichment experiences in Scottish culture, traditions and history.
- Activities to benefit the Scottish community and the Murray Clan.
The $300 grant from the Juniper Fund to the Kutztown Pipe Band supported the cost of these educational programs, which allowed, and will continue to allow, the Kutztown Pipe Band to offer programs free for schools.
The presence of the Kutztown Pipe Band at local schools and community events carries a transformative power. It sparks curiosity, ignites passion, and inspires young minds to explore the world of music and culture. By funding the band, the Juniper Fund is growing young talent, and offering musicians a chance to engage with a unique form of art.