Every year, Earth Day is celebrated across the globe with tree plantings, festivals, and various volunteer activities that remind us of our collective responsibility to steward the natural environment and limit impacts on the earth.  

The Berks County Earth Day Committee hosts an Earth Day celebration every year to bring the community together and educate about environmental and conservation subjects while encouraging participants to make sustainable choices. Thousands of people gathered in City Park on April 20 to enjoy live music and food from local vendors and participate in a range of educational activities from planting seeds and trees to litter clean ups to wildlife demonstrations.  

“The pure joy of seeing little ones bouncing from booth to booth, learning about our Earth, made my heart smile. They’re the future of our planet, and their enthusiasm gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow,” said Lazarely Martinez, a first-time attendee of the Earth Day celebration in City Park.  

The Youth Volunteer Corps held a table at the event that promoted planting vegetables in a bag. The bag was recyclable, and dirt was donated from Ridgewood Soils in Birdsboro. Kids of all ages were instructed to scoop dirt into their bags and then were provided with lettuce or spinach seeds to plant in the soil. Participants were encouraged to place the bags in sunlight and watered regularly. When leaves start to sprout, they can be cut and are ready to be eaten.  

“I like spinach because it makes me feel strong and planting it makes me feel like a farmer,” said Avian Robles, an 8-year-old student at Muhlenberg Elementary Center after planting his spinach planted bag.  

At the Community Foundation, our goal is to keep Berks County a beautiful place by supporting projects and programs that recognize the value of our open space and provide education on how to reduce our impact on the planet. The Earth Day celebration was made possible by the Hawley and Myrtle Quier Fund of Berks County Community Foundation. This fund makes distributions to improve the quality of life for the residents of Berks County. This support not only benefits the present generation but also lays the foundation for a more sustainable future for generations to come. 

READING (December 7, 2023) — Berks County Community Foundation recently approved $62,369 in grants to nine Boyertown area organizations through its Boyertown Area Charitable Program. 

These grants are distributed from the Boyertown Area Community Fund, which supports a variety of programs and organizations within the geographic area served by the Boyertown Area School District, and the Boyer Foundation Fund, which also supports Boyertown area health, social, recreational, and safety organizations. 

Since 1997, the program has granted more than $1,000,000 to over 60 Boyertown area organizations, providing much-needed support for a variety of causes. 

The fund awarded the following grants in 2023: 

Douglass Township Police Department received $2,439 to purchase medical kits for each patrol vehicle.  The supplies funded through this program will ensure the Douglass Township Police Department is equipped to aid residents of the Boyertown Area School District. 

Gilbertsville Fire and Rescue Company received $6,030 to purchase materials that will allow the regional fire chiefs a stationary area that can be out of the elements to operate at an emergency scene safely and effectively. 

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia received $5,000 to fund a trip to Disney World for an eight-year-old Boyertown resident. 

Greater Philadelphia YMCA received $10,000 to support programs at the Boyertown YMCA, including   the Youth and Government teen civic engagement program, the Special Olympics swim team, and the Active Older Adults programming for seniors. 

Reading Hospital Foundation received $1,000 for Gwen’s Closet at Reading Hospital. Through Gwen’s Closet, Reading Hospital staff provide new clothing at no cost to patients who need new clothes at the time of discharge and during their stays.  

Second Wind Bicycles received $12,000 for the Give a Bike, Change a Life project. Through this project, bicycles are fixed and distributed for free to those who need them the most, such as financially at-risk families, refugees, individuals in recovery, those struggling with homelessness, and children within the community. 

The S.P.A.R.K.S Foundation received $5,000 to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programming to students across the Boyertown Area School District. This program will benefit youth through academic enrichment, providing future career opportunities and allowing youth to explore the realms of STEM while having fun.  

General Carl Spaatz Regional Army Air Corps Museum received $6,500 to preserve irreplaceable historical items and to provide Boyertown Area School District students with free guided tours of the museum. 

Studio B Art Gallery received $7,900 for its I Am: Proud of You and Me! project. This project will provide opportunities during community events for students and adults to create artistic responses to the sentence starter “I Am: Proud of You and Me because…” and culminate in an art exhibit, podcast episodes, and booklet of episode notes, news articles, activities, and a mural. 

To support future grants provided by the Boyertown Area Charitable Program, donations are always accepted. To learn more, contact Emily Smedley, Environment and Energy Program Officer, at emilys@bccf.org. or click here for more details. 

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About Berks County Community Foundation 

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.  

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

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

Earlier this year, more than 45 Berks County leaders met with the Community Foundation to talk about community resiliency and environmental health. The leaders hailed from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses whose work focuses on critical issues such as stormwater management, land conservation and preservation, health, transportation infrastructure, and the built environment.

We were joined by experts from the Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL), who posed a series of questions aimed at determining ways the Community Foundation could deploy its resources to address environmental issues in Berks County.  

Based on the answers to those questions, ICL made three recommendations:

  1. Support collaboration and create a series of regular interactions to ensure information and ideas are being exchanged.

  2. Create an innovation fund to put money behind collaborative and pilot projects that improve community resiliency and environmental health in Berks County.

  3. Pay for additional research when needed to ensure a full understanding of the often-complex geographic and human interconnectivity of local environmental issues.

We look forward to continuing this work and providing space for these important conversations to happen. For now, click here to learn more about this project and to read the full set of recommendations.

(August 21, 2023) JOHNSTOWN, PA – The Metropolitan Edison/Pennsylvania Electric Company Sustainable Energy Fund (Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund) announced today that a new funding opportunity is available to nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Effective immediately, the fund will offer program-related investments (PRIs) to organizations within the Met-Ed and Penelec territories in Pennsylvania.

The Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund, developed to provide funding for sustainable energy-efficiency and clean energy technology development, will offer PRIs typically ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 to projects that fulfill the mission of the fund. Program-related investments are low-interest loans, which provide capital that must be paid back. Loans will be offered at 4-6 percent interest with a maximum 10-year payback period. The final interest rate, loan term, and loan amount will be determined by the fund’s advisory committee in partnership with professional loan advisors at JARI Growth Fund, a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

“The committee wanted to create a bigger impact than ever before with this funding,” says Davitt Woodwell, chair of the advisory committee for the Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund and president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “By offering larger pools of funding, we can drive sustainable energy solutions that will leave a positive impact on our communities. And by offering loans, we can use the money that is paid back for more projects in the future. We are excited to see the outcomes of the projects.”

With increased funding currently available for these types of projects from various sources, such as the federal and state government, this PRI opportunity will continue to move the needle on developing sustainable and renewable energy programs and clean-air technologies as the Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund has since its inception.

Learn about the application process and criteria at https://bccf.org/met-ed-penelec-sustainable-energy-fund-loan-opportunity/.

The Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund is administered by Berks County Community Foundation and the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies respectively. For further information, contact one of the following staff members whose location is closer to your organization and/or project:

Angie Berzonski, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Johnstown, Pa.: aberzonski@cfalleghenies.org, 814.315.2982

Emily Smedley, Berks County Community Foundation, Reading, Pa.: emilys@bccf.org, 610.685.2223

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The Metropolitan Edison Company Sustainable Energy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation and the Pennsylvania Electric Company Sustainable Energy Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies distribute funding for a variety of projects within the territories originally served by the two electric companies. The two funds share an advisory committee and are known in the singular as the Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund. More information available here: https://bccf.org/funds/sustainable-energy-fund/.      

Community Foundation for the Alleghenies (CFA) is a public, nonprofit foundation that manages funds to strengthen communities in Bedford, Cambria, Indiana, and Somerset counties. CFA empowers individuals to become philanthropists, donors to make meaningful change, and caring citizens to design a legacy. For more information, visit www.cfalleghenies,org.

Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation serving as a civic leader for the 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.

Formed in 2016, the JARI Growth Fund (JGF) is a certified CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) and equal opportunity lender which supports low-to-moderate income individuals, minorities, woman-owned entities, and people with disabilities throughout the Southern Alleghenies region. JGF provides capital encouraging a diverse economy, building vibrant communities, enhancing the quality of life for residents of the region, improving housing, and addresses the needs of unserved, underserved, and minority communities throughout the region. More information is available at https://www.jari.com/.

Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Berks County Community Foundation,ericac@bccf.org, 610-685-2223

READING, PA (June 8, 2023) – The Gilmore | Henne Fund of Berks County Community Foundation has awarded $9,500 in grants to five parks. The Gilmore | Henne Community Fund was created by Wilson High School Graduates and NFL players John Gilmore and Chad Henne to support the costs of park programs and recreational improvements.

Grants were awarded to the following applicants:

“I am elated to support projects that will make our parks safer, more accessible, and more enjoyable for visitors,” said Emily Smedley, environment and energy program officer. “These improvements will revive some of our local green spaces and create a healthy environment where residents can share special moments with one another.”

The Gilmore | Henne Community Fund was created in 2010 with the goal of improving the community and the quality of life for Berks County children through park improvements. To learn more about the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund, visit https://bccf.org/funds/gilmore-henne-community-fund/.

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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.

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

READING, PA – The Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund seeks nominees for its Advisory Board.

Through grants and program-related investments, the funds promote the development and use of renewable energy and clean energy technologies, energy conservation and efficiency, sustainable energy businesses, and projects that improve the environment in the companies’ service territories.

The Advisory Board consists of not fewer than seven nor more than nine positions. The term of a board member is two years and members may serve a total of six terms.

The funds are seeking nominations for the following positions:

Interested parties are eligible for nomination and consideration by the Advisory Board. Candidates for nomination to the Advisory Board will be evaluated in terms of the following criteria:

This announcement is made in keeping with the best practices of the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Board (PASEB) and is being distributed on the websites of the Public Utility Commission and the Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund, as well as relevant newsletters and other sources. There is no financial compensation for Board service. This notice may be forwarded to interested parties. Nominations will be accepted through November 30, 2022.

Interested parties should contact Berks County Community Foundation at 610.685.2223 or the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies at 814.536.7741.

READING, PA (August 9, 2021) – Solarflux Energy Technologies, Inc. of Bern Township near Reading has announced the results of an independent report reviewing performance test results for the Solarflux FOCUS parabolic dish concentrator, demonstrating solar-to-thermal conversion efficiency of 72%. That is, the tests show that 72% of the solar energy arriving at the FOCUS is converted into usable heat.

This solar-to-thermal conversion efficiency is comparable to best-in-class solar-to-thermal conversion performance from alternative concentrating solar power (CSP) systems such as parabolic trough. However, unlike alternative CSP technologies, the FOCUS is a full two-axis tracking device. As such, it maintains perfect alignment with the sun from sunrise to sunset at all latitudes, thereby delivering maximum conversion efficiency throughout the day, and year-round.

As a result, the annual energy yield from the FOCUS is significantly above that of alternative solar energy systems, outperforming parabolic trough by up to 50% or more, depending on the system’s peak capacity and site location.

Prepared by Lehigh University’s Energy Research Center, the report independently reviews testing of solar-to-thermal conversion efficiency in close accordance with the methods outlined in the ASTM 905-87 industry standard relating to solar concentrators.

“This report provides independent confirmation of what we have long known – that the low-cost FOCUS solar parabolic dish concentrator is the highest performing solar technology out there.” – Naoise Irwin, Solarflux CEO

The FOCUS offers a low-cost, low-maintenance, zero-emission, modular thermal energy solution for a variety of use cases, including industrial process heat, water desalination and purification, space heating and cooling, hot water, and remote power generation.

Solarflux was founded in 2019 by a team dedicated to developing innovative technologies to help sustainably meet the growing energy demands of modern human civilization. The Solarflux team believes that parabolic dish concentrators offer unique potential to bring clean, inexpensive energy to a wide range of underserved market segments, particularly in regions of the world with an abundance of direct sunlight. The Met-Ed Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation awarded a grant of $340,000 for the development of the dish. Other supporters of the project include Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and private investors.

For more information, please email contact@solarflux.co or visit www.solarflux.co.

Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund

The Metropolitan Edison Company Sustainable Energy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation and the Pennsylvania Electric Company Sustainable Energy Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies distribute money in the form of grants and investments for a variety of projects within the territories originally served by the two electric companies. The two funds share an advisory committee and are known in the singular as the Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund.

More information, as well as maps and zip codes of areas serviced by Met-Ed and Penelec, is available at www.bccf.org/sustainable-energy-fund/.

The mission of the fund is to support:

BOYERTOWN, PA (July 9, 2021) – Berks County Community Foundation has several funding opportunities available for nonprofits and families in the Boyertown area.

Two programs for nonprofits serving residents of the Boyertown area have an application deadline of August 16, 2021:

To apply for either of these opportunities (and organizations may apply to both), use the Community Foundation’s new online application system at http://bccf.link/grants. You must create an account to access the system.

For inquiries regarding these opportunities for nonprofits, contact Heidi Williamson, Senior Vice President for Programs and Initiatives, at heidiw@bccf.org or 610-685-2223.

Two programs for families caring for loved ones with medical needs also have funding available:

To apply for either of these opportunities, use the Community Foundation’s new online application system at http://bccf.link/grants. You must create an account to access the system.

For inquiries regarding these opportunities for families, contact Monica Reyes, Health and Human Services Program Officer, at monicar@bccf.org or 610-685-2223.

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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. More information is available at www.bccf.org.

NEWS RELEASE

READING, PA (July 8, 2021) – Berks County Community Foundation has awarded $3,600 from the Albany Township Tomorrow Fund to three organizations for programs that will benefit the entire Albany Township community.

The Albany Township Tomorrow Fund supports community organizations and initiatives that benefit the residents of Albany Township, Berks County. This fund was created in honor of Pauline Levan Hamm and Gloria Longenberger Hamm and their lifelong efforts to support and improve the Albany Township community. Since the fund was established in 2019, it has awarded $11,800 to local organizations.

This year’s grant recipients, award amounts, and programs supported:

The community-wide Easter Egg Hunt at New Bethel Church in Albany Township in 2021.

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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. More information is available at www.bccf.org.

NEWS RELEASE