This month the ladies who make up the Power of the Purse in Berks County Fund will announce the grants they’ve recommended in this, their first year of activity.

The announcement is cause for celebration, not only because the grants will make a difference in our community, but also because the women successfully completed their first year of grantmaking.

At this time last year, one of the women, Chiara Renninger from Herbein Wealth Management, worked with the Community Foundation to invite women – most of whom she’d never met – to join her in a great grantmaking experiment. She asked the women to consider making a $1,000 donation to the Power of the Purse in Berks County Fund, and then work together over the course of the year to determine where the grants should go.

Chiara, Franki Aitken from the foundation, and I hoped we could encourage ten women to sign up for the inaugural year, which would allow us to distribute $10,000 in grants. Instead, we had 18 women sign up and play an active role in the group, and one woman who made a donation but wasn’t able to participate. We were thrilled with their interest and honored to have the opportunity to work with such a great group.

In the fall, we met at the foundation and talked about the issues facing women and girls in our community. The group determined that they wanted to provide grants to programs that removed barriers for women or girls who were trying to go to school or get a job. As winter approached, we issued a request for proposals. Eight great organizations apply for a grant.

In February, each of the women attended site visits to different organizations who had applied for funding. In March, we talked about what we learned and then made the decisions about which grants to fund.

It was a wonderful process with a great outcome. If you’re interested in learning more about the program or becoming a member, feel free to give us a call.