On November 8, Berks County Community Foundation held its Annual Meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Reading. More than 100 civic leaders attended the event, which included brief presentations by the Community Foundation’s program officers and an overview of the year by Kevin K. Murphy, foundation president. 

“This year marked the culmination of our plan to increase our impact in Berks County by expanding the number of program officers working on specific causes,” Murphy said. “Our annual event gave us the opportunity to introduce these new faces to the community.” 

The program officers oversee distributions from more than 346 charitable funds that were created by Berks County residents to support causes in the community that were important to them. In fiscal year 2023, those grants and scholarships totaled more than $6.2 million. That brings the total amount of grants and scholarships distributed since the Community Foundation’s founding in 1994 to over $101 million. 

In addition to Murphy, who provided a recap of the West Reading Disaster Relief Fund, attendees heard from: 

Vice President for Programs and Initiatives Monica Reyes about an effort underway with the Berks County Medical Society to share the results of a study about public health released by the Berks County Commissioners this year; 

Health and Human Services Program Officer Cindy Milian about the work she oversees to support animal welfare and to assist families who have children with special needs; 

Environment and Energy Program Officer Emily Smedley about grants that are increasing energy efficiency for local organizations and grants that are improving soil health by monitoring the flight patterns of birds of prey; 

Lifelong Learning Program Officer Kim Sheffer about teacher mini-grants, which support innovative classroom projects across Berks County. 

Details about each of these initiatives are available in the Community Foundation’s 2023 Annual Report. 

In addition to learning about the work the Community Foundation is undertaking, attendees were invited to pick up a brush and add their touch to a Berks County mural, and to listen to a trio of local student musicians. 

If you’d like to join the Community Foundation at future annual meetings, please send your name and email address to info@bccf.org and ask to be added to the invitation list. If you’d like to learn more about the Community Foundation, including how to start a charitable fund of your own, visit www.bccf.org. 

Annual Event

Teachers across Berks County are finding new ways to keep children engaged in learning by innovating the pre-existing curriculum. Teachers at Mifflin Park Elementary School wanted to help their students who struggle with reading, which may or may not be the result of the student learning English as a second language. By modifying the curriculum with their Stories and Steps Program, teachers were able to make literature more accessible and fun for students who needed extra help.

The Stories and Steps program was created in 2021 to help students get more comfortable with reading and understanding the English language. Students participating in the program were primarily struggling readers, and or in the process of learning the English language. The program had 101 students participate in total. These children walked together while listening to audiobooks of children’s literature.

According to Corinne Brumbach, librarian at Mifflin Park Elementary, and Diane Richards, chief financial officer, students were incredibly responsive to the program. It was reported that 100 percent of the participants wanted to take part in another audiobook club. When asked about the program’s impact on the students, Brumbach and Richards shared quotes from the students.

Has the audiobook helped you? How?

“Yes, I learned new things and I can hear it just like the author wanted it to be heard.”

Do you enjoy listening to audiobooks?

“Yes, I could hear how to say words.”

Because of the program, students developed deeper engagement with the reading material and a stronger interest in reading. In the future, Mifflin Park Elementary hopes to offer the program for the entire school year instead of a portion of the school year.

This project was funded by a mini-grant from the Berks County Association of School Retirees Scholarship and Grant Fund. This fund was created to provide a scholarship to a Berks County senior and mini-grants for classroom projects. To learn more about this fund, visit https://bccf.org/funds/berks-county-association-of-school-retirees-scholarship-and-mini-grant-fund/

Reading, PA, July 13, 2023 –Berks County Community Foundation, and McMahon, a Bowman company, is pleased to announce that Andrew Kline, an engineering undergraduate student at Villanova University, has earned the 2023 Joseph and Peggy McMahon Transportation Engineering Scholarship. This marks back-to-back awards of the scholarship to Kline. The award is competitively selected through the Berks County Community Foundation.

Established in 2018, the Joseph and Peggy McMahon Transportation Engineering Scholarship provides financial assistance for college students who have demonstrated a commitment to transportation engineering as their chosen career. The scholarship seeks to recognize individuals who demonstrate leadership and actively give back through programs dedicated to helping individuals and communities served by the engineering industry.

Building on a strong academic foundation from 2022, this year Kline stepped up his leadership role as the President of the Villanova University Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), by coordinating the 2023 ASCE Mid-Atlantic East Student Symposium, which saw participation of 12 schools and more than 250 attendees. He also served his second year as the College of Engineering Senator within the Villanova University Student Government Association and was elected to serve as the Speaker of the Senate. Kline was also appointed as a student representative of the Villanova University Board of Trustees. Outside of his professional and school activities, Kline has served as the Judge of Elections for the Berks County Election Services department running polling locations for the last three elections.

Academically, Kline has started taking transportation-oriented internships and engineering classes and plans to expand that to include transportation system design in the fall of 2023. While being extremely active in school and professional societies, Kline has also maintained a 3.47 GPA in his civil engineering major.

“I appreciate the commitment that Joseph and Peggy McMahon have made to the transportation engineering field as a whole and am honored to receive their scholarship for the second year in a row,” Kline said. “Their continued support is enabling me to attain my goals and dreams to help communities through thoughtful and important transportation engineering design.”

“We are proud to provide the Joseph and Peggy McMahon Transportation Engineering scholarship for its fifth year,” said Joseph McMahon, P.E., Founder of McMahon Associates, Inc. “It’s gratifying for us to see the remarkable contributions that students like Andrew are already making to our profession. He is demonstrating year-over-year his strong commitment to serving our professional and local communities, and this is the very core of why we established the scholarship. We wish Andrew good luck in his upcoming academic year and continued success in his career pursuits.”

The Joseph and Peggy McMahon Transportation Engineering scholarship was created by the Board of Directors of McMahon Associates in tribute to the firm’s founder Joseph McMahon, and his wife, Peggy McMahon. The couple established McMahon in 1976 with a “Pay It Forward” dedication at its core, and this scholarship fund preserves their legacy and promotes that commitment into the future to support new engineering generations. The fund, established through Berks County Community Foundation, provides scholarships to college students who have declared and have been accepted into, the major of civil engineering with a focus on transportation engineering. For more information, interested and qualified students should go to https://bccf.org/funds/joseph-and-peggy-mcmahon-transportation-engineering-scholarship-fund/.

About McMahon

Since 1976, McMahon has specialized in delivering innovative transportation engineering, planning, design and technology solutions to our clients.  We have built trusted and lasting relationships by satisfying, and often surpassing, the needs of both governmental and private sector clients. We provide services and consulting expertise for transportation projects in a variety of travel modes from planning, to design and permitting, through construction.

In May 2022, McMahon joined forces with Bowman Consulting Group Ltd, as an acquisition of the publicly-traded firm. Bowman is a trusted, multi-disciplinary engineering & survey consulting firm offering a broad range of real estate, energy, infrastructure and environmental management solutions to both public and private clients from locations across the country.  

About Berks County Community Foundation

Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing, and distributing charitable funds aimed at improving the quality of life in Berks County.

Media Contact:

Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Berks County Community Foundation | ericac@bccf.com 610.685.2223

There’s talk sometimes that all is not right with the children, or in the case of a recent op-ed by Pennsylvania Senator Ryan Aument, that all is not right with our public schools. While that doom-and-gloom position may win headlines and votes, it’s far from the reality on the ground, at least here in Berks County. Our school districts are using innovative, creative learning experiences to ensure students have the skills they need to succeed not only in the classroom, but in life.

We recently attended the Governor Mifflin School District’s first-ever Mustang Nation Learning Expo, where teachers and students at every grade level showcased innovation and expertise for the community at large. The visitors at the packed-house event had the chance to experience more than 80 interactive presentations, during which students were eager to share their knowledge on topics ranging from Entrepreneurship in Elementary School to Analyzing AI: Student Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence through a Literary Lens. We even met a group of first graders who have become real experts on Rainbow Trout. Throughout each presentation, at every grade level, students were applying their classroom learning to real world questions and problems.

Contrary to Senator Aument’s assertion that our students are being failed by an “antiquated system … with goals that are no longer relevant,” the Governor Mifflin event demonstrated ways our schools are preparing and motivating students not only to enter today’s workforce, but to be ready for the uncharted jobs of the future in disciplines of science, math, technology, humanities, arts, and beyond.

Teachers and administrators at Governor Mifflin are so determined to ensure their students hit the ground running upon graduation, they’ve become students themselves in the Total Experience Learning® program at Albright College. This groundbreaking teaching methodology supports educators and gives them the tools to transform what could be hum-drum lessons into hands-on, interactive, entrepreneurial learning experiences. There’s a real focus on encouraging students’ organic curiosity and interests to create meaningful engagement.

And, it is not just Governor Mifflin School District. School districts, administrators, and teachers across Berks County, from Reading to Boyertown and beyond, have engaged in Total Experience Learning programs, to ensure that K-12 education in Berks County continues to be relevant and motivating to today’s students, and that the PA Department of Education learning goals are not just met, but exceeded.

A dedication to continuous improvement and lifelong learning is critical not only for our students and teachers, but also for our elected leaders. Senator Aument’s proposal to study the current education system and learn from other systems around the world is admirable. But to start from the premise that all parts of the current system are irrevocably broken and that increased funding is not the answer fails to recognize the stellar achievements of dedicated administrators, teachers, and students across the Commonwealth. Our local schools rise to the challenge of educating our students for a global economy every day, despite being funded at wildly varying levels with little to no regard for the demographic and social make up of their student cohorts.

Rather than simply dismissing all PA public education as broken, the legislature should look at the actual data and do its constitutionally mandated job to provide for a fair and adequate level of school funding so that all children, regardless of their zip code, can achieve the kind of success that we saw at the Mustang Nation Learning Expo.

READING, PA (February 6, 2023) – Berks County Community Foundation and Reading Pride Celebration (RPC) recently distributed the first round of grants from the Reading Pride Celebration Gives Back Fund. The grants support local programs that align with the fund’s mission of promoting diversity, inclusion, and equality in the Berks County area.

The following organizations received grants:

“Our LGBTQ+ youth are the future leaders of our community and we hope that these funds help educators create programs and provide much-needed resources that benefit them while promoting inclusive environments and communities,” said Enrique Castro, Jr, RPC’s Executive Director.

Each grant will be used for outreach, education, and advocacy efforts aimed at creating a more inclusive community for everyone.

“We are delighted to support these organizations through the Reading Pride Celebration Gives Back initiative,” said Cindy Milian, Health and Human Services Program Officer at Berks County Community Foundation. “Their work is essential to promoting equality and understanding in our community, and we are honored to support their mission.”

The Reading Pride Gives Back Fund was created with a portion of the proceeds from the Reading Pride Celebration Festival 2022.

Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation serving as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing, and distributing charitable funds to improve the quality of life in Berks County, PA. More information is available at www.bccf.org.

Reading Pride Celebration is an organization that has the mission of promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by building a community that embraces and supports differences and seeks to eliminate racial oppression, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other oppression. Every dollar raised through our Pride festival or other fundraising initiatives goes directly back to support our mission and programs.

Media Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Phone: 610-685-2231, Email address: ericac@bccf.org

Local Youth Hope to Unite Community on MLK Day

Reading, PA–Local teens involved in a youth-driven initiative for social justice called Stand Together Against Racism (S.T.A.R.) are coming together on Martin Luther King Day to host a community event sure to leave an impact. The S.T.A.R. initiative was born through the support of Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading and VOiCEup Berks. These motivated high school students are providing an opportunity for families to learn, unite as a community, and pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King.

In honor of MLK Day on January 16, S.T.A.R. students will host a drop-in event at Berks County Community Foundation, 237 Court Street in Reading, from 1-4 pm. Throughout the entirety of the event, there will be a student-created art exhibit, mini-service projects for youth ages 8+, and storytime for ages 4-7. Additionally, there will be a screening of the student-directed documentary, created by S.T.A.R. members, entitled ‘Stand Together’ at 2 pm (recommended for ages 11+). Following the film screening, there will be a youth-led  discussion on racism and youth activism. This event will be fulfilling for all community members. More information can be found at www.voiceupberks.org/opportunity. This is a drop-in event and registration is not required but appreciated.

Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading focuses on promoting a lifetime commitment to service among youth by offering volunteer projects for youth ages 11 to 18 on Saturdays, after school, during school, virtually, and during the summer. YVC of Reading, hosted by VOiCEup, is one of over 30 affiliates of Youth Volunteer Corps, headquartered in Kansas City. YVC of Reading has engaged hundreds of young people from diverse backgrounds in over 24,000 hours of service to help this community over the past 6 years. Find more information at www.voiceupberks.org/yvc. VOiCEup Berks is a fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading MLK Family Full Event Schedule

READING, PA (January 3, 2023)–Berks County Community Foundation is currently accepting applications for over 100 scholarship funds. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2023. Students must complete a single online application to be matched to a qualifying scholarship. Many of the scholarships are for Berks County high-school seniors, while others support non-traditional students and students already in higher education. Criteria, details, and scholarship information can be found at http://bccf.link/scholarships.

“Scholarships help to relieve the financial burden of and increase access to continuing education opportunities for students throughout Berks County and beyond,” said Kim Sheffer, Community Foundation Lifelong Learning Program Officer.

The Community Foundation has awarded more than $10 million in scholarships to local students since its founding in 1994.

“Awarding scholarships is an impactful way to acknowledge students’ current achievements and potential, while also encouraging their future growth and success,” Sheffer said.

To review all the scholarships that the Community Foundation has available, visit https://bccf.org/search-for-scholarships/.

Applicants with questions can email Kim Sheffer, Lifelong Learning Program Officer, at kims@bccf.org. Students can apply through March 1, 2023.

Most of these scholarships were created by Berks County residents to support local students in continuing their education.


Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation serving as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing, and distributing charitable funds to improve the quality of life in Berks County, PA. More information is available at www.bccf.org.

The Power of the Purse in Berks County (POP) in Berks County held its 2022-2023 kickoff meeting at Berks County Community Foundation. POP is a women’s giving circle where donations are pooled to create an impact in the Berks County community. In the meeting, there was a discussion on how to improve the lives of women and girls that included explaining The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy’s XX Factor Framework. Based on this framework, there are five dimensions that women look to thrive in their community: health, education, economic empowerment, personal safety, and legal rights.  

“Collectively, if there is not an impact on all five, women cannot thrive. Progress in one will create a domino effect with the other dimensions,” explains Katherina M. Rosqueta, Founding Executive Director for the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania. 

The Power of the Purse in Berks County Fund of Berks County Community Foundation awards grants to programs that break the cycle of poverty by eliminating or addressing barriers for Berks County girls and/or women who want to enter or re-enter the workforce or seek education they need to do so.  

The deadline to apply is January 24, 2023. 

This funding is made possible by the generous women who are members of the Power of the Purse in Berks County, which was started in 2012 to improve the lives of local women and children. 

You can learn more about POP, how to apply for a grant, how to donate to the group, and what grants have been previously awarded at https://bccf.org/pop/

 Apply for a grant directly at http://bccf.link/grants. The deadline to apply for funding is January 24, 2023. 

The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is a program of VOiCeup Berks and Berks County Community Foundation that provides young people with the opportunity to make a positive impact in their communities. YAB members work together to identify community needs and recommend grants from the Youth and Philanthropy Fund. 

This fund provides grants to organizations that address issues that impact young people in Berks County. From 1998 to 2021, the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation distributed 117 grants totaling $368,258. 

This year, YAB will provide grants to programs that address youth homelessness in Berks County with preference given to programs that also address substance use disorder for those experiencing homelessness. 

The application for this fund is now open. You can submit your application by visiting http://bccf.link/grants. If it is your first time visiting our site, you would need to create a username and password to access the application.

The deadline to apply for the fund is 1/23/2023.

Berks County Community Foundation is proud to support the Youth Advisory Board and is committed to providing young people with the opportunities and resources they need to thrive and make a positive impact in their communities. 

The YAB program has been successful in fostering the next generation of leaders and creating positive change in Berks County.

READING, PA (September 2, 2022) – The 20 members of the 2022-23 cohort for Berks County Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Management Certificate program have been selected. The executive directors and high-potential staff members begin the professional development program at the community foundation’s headquarters in Reading this week.

“The certificate program helps local nonprofit leaders improve or renew their management and leadership skills close to home,” said Kim Sheffer, lifelong learning program officer at the Community Foundation. “It combines expert instruction from faculty from The Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University with peer learning so cohort members get to know and learn from each other.”

The 2022-2023 class members:

The program

The program includes group lunches, nonprofit management webinars, and daylong in-person nonprofit management classes led by faculty members from The Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University.

The Community Foundation covers the majority of the cost of the program, however, each nonprofit contributes $500 for each participant. The program will next be offered in 2024, Sheffer said.

This professional development opportunity was designed exclusively for Berks County’s nonprofit executive directors and high-potential staff members. Note that Berks County Community Foundation is not an accredited educational institution, but rather a nonprofit that seeks to bring professional development opportunities to the community for local leaders.

Check out this Community Foundation spotlight video, where Kim discusses the program:


Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing and distributing charitable funds aimed at improving the quality of life in Berks County.