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Celebrating 30 Years: The Journey and Impact of the Community Foundation 

June 14, 2024

In June 1994, I was hired as the first employee of Berks County Community Foundation. The foundation was a scrappy startup when it was founded 30 years ago. In its first full fiscal year, we were able to award four grants. Berks County and the Community Foundation have come a long way since then.  

The idea of a community foundation for Berks County came from the Wyomissing Foundation. One of their board members was involved with the Triangle Community Foundation in North Carolina and asked why Berks County didn’t have a community Foundation. Alfred Hemmerich, a board member of Wyomissing Foundation, was particularly excited by the idea of a community foundation when asked why one did not exist in Berks County. Alfred took it upon himself to explore how community foundations worked and whether it would be possible to start one here.  

And so, in June of 1994, Berks County Community Foundation began. The original board included members who were well-respected in Berks County. Although the Community Foundation was a brand-new organization with no track record, the board members’ reputations, along with the blessing of the Wyomissing Foundation, gave the community confidence in this new endeavor. People began to give money because they respected the civic leaders who were involved.  

Fast forward to 2024. We now manage about $140 million in assets and nearly 400 funds that award grants and scholarships. Thousands of grants and scholarships have been distributed, totaling over $79 million, since our founding 30 years ago. Looking back, it is difficult to pick one grant, one event, or one initiative that makes me most proud.  

The Community Foundation team works hard to bring organizations and individuals together to collaborate and create positive change, to provide more opportunities for nonprofits to thrive, and to inspire our residents to give to the causes about which they care the most.   

A lot has changed in 30 years.  But, for the Community Foundation, our mission to promote philanthropy and improve the quality of life for the residents of Berks County remains our North Star. 

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