Berks County is home to hundreds of houses of worship in both the urban and rural areas, many built throughout the 1700s and 1800s. These buildings have been vital cultural vehicles that have helped knit the fabric of our cultural heritage for generations. But these sacred places are at risk, like many others across America. With this threat to Berks County’s sacred places in mind, it’s important to preserve the contributions that are being made in the community. Sacred places are ubiquitous in our communities, forming an integral part of social safety nets. This started the “Sacred Places” project to set out to build an inventory of the purpose-built sacred places within the city.  

Berks County Community Foundation is collaborating with Partners for Sacred Spaces, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that brings people together to find creative ways to maintain and make the most of America’s older and historic houses of worship.   

For more than five years, Partners for Sacred Places and Berks County Community Foundation have collected the history of local houses of worship, assessed the condition of the buildings and the stability of their congregations, and encouraged partnerships to preserve these sacred places. 

As a result, the Community Foundation will continue its partnership with Partners for Sacred Places in 2024 to provide its New Dollars/New Partners program. Several congregations spanning across denominations, locations, sizes, and missions – will have the opportunity to focus on building capacity to better serve their communities as anchor institutions, nurture transformation, and shape vibrant, creative communities.   

If you lead or volunteer with a congregation in Berks County, we invite you to a free informational session on Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 6:00 pm at Berks Nature (575 St. Bernardine Street, Reading, PA 19607). 

You can register for the informational session by clicking here. In the months that follow, the New Dollars/New Partners training program will be available for congregations interested in participating.   

Funding for this project came from James P. Born, Sr. Fund of Berks County Community Foundation. The fund supports local houses of worship, interfaith dialogue, and inclusive programs for all children, including those who are underprivileged.  

We look forward to seeing you at the session and collaborating with places of worship in Berks County.  

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 or click here for more details. 


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  

Media Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Phone: 610-685-2231, Email address: 

Six-year-old Timothy begged his mother to let him take skating lessons after seeing one of the Reading Royals ice hockey games. Observing the players skate so quickly excited him. Timothy’s mother requested help paying for the skating lessons from the Royals Youth Hockey Fund of Berks County Community Foundation. Timothy started participating in the Royal’s Learn to Skate program not long after.  

The Royals Youth Hockey Fund of Berks County Community Foundation was started in 2023 by the Reading Royals Hockey Club to provide financial support to youth who want to participate in hockey lessons, camps, or leagues. 

“Hockey is a special kind of sport in which success depends on every single player pulling in the same direction and supporting one another,” says Dakota Procyk, Vice President of Operations at the Reading Royals Hockey Club. “This fund is a great opportunity to invest in the Berks County community and offers a chance for our local youth to get involved with hockey.”  

Young people’s development and well-being are greatly impacted by youth sports. Their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development is aided by them, and they provide a number of positive aspects, such as health and wellness, confidence, teamwork, and skill development. 

Recipients of the fund explained how the fund made a difference and gave them a spark of hope.  

“Receiving this grant has shown me we can still help each other. Cutting ice hockey out of our budget would have left a void in my son’s winter.”  

“This fund helped allow my son to continue to play the game he loves so much while allowing me a little breathing room with inflation.”    

Since the fund opened in July 2023, the Community Foundation has granted $12,535 to 18 children. The grants assisted with registration fees for several of the Royals’ youth programs, including Learn to Skate, Learn to Play, Youth League, and Selects Team programs. 

Funding can cover registration fees and equipment. Applicants can request a Slapshot Starter Kit, which includes hockey skates, pads, and a stick. Applications are open year-round.  

To learn more, click: Learn More 

To give to the Royals Youth Hockey Fund, visit: 

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

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.:, 814.315.2982

Emily Smedley, Berks County Community Foundation, Reading, Pa.:, 610.685.2223


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:      

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

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

Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Berks County Community Foundation,, 610-685-2223

READING, PA (August 2, 2023) – Berks County Community Foundation recently awarded more than $80,000 in grants to thirteen organizations from the First United Church of Christ Mission Fund and the St. John’s UCC Reading Fund.

The organizations receiving grants and the amounts received are as follows:

$1,100 to the Reading Musical Foundation for its Summer Music Camp Scholarship Program. This program awards scholarships to Berks County students so that they may attend a summer music camp of their choosing. This funding will support the cost of camp scholarships for two Reading School District students.

$3,000 was granted to Bethany Children’s Home to support summer programming. During the summer months, Bethany Children’s Home provides fun, first-time experiences for its residents like going to the beach, an amusement park, or an art museum. Funding will support travel expenses, meals, souvenirs, and potential admission costs.

$3,500 to Reading Youth Legion Baseball. Reading Youth Legion Baseball will provide children from the City of Reading with the opportunity to play competitive baseball while keeping costs affordable.  Funding will support umpire fees, registration and insurance costs, uniforms, and equipment.

$4,623 to The S.P.A.R.K.S. Foundation for its Classroom Visitation Program. This program brings STEM lessons to elementary school students who are otherwise not able to participate in extra-curricular activities due to financial barriers. The hour-long program of lessons coupled with experiments covers topics that address educational standards in science for the grade level. Funding will support the costs of materials used for the STEM lessons and overhead costs such as rent, office supplies, and utilities.

$4,790 to Berks Youth Chorus to teach young people to perform confidently in a choral setting and to help students improve their overall musicianship. This grant will support the costs of operation that would normally be paid through a raised tuition. Keeping tuition costs low allows students to participate, regardless of their family’s income level.

$5,500 to The LGBT Center of Greater Reading for its Discovery Day Camp. Discovery Day Camp is geared towards helping youth ages 14 to 18 explore their identities in a safe and healthy environment. Through this camp, participants will learn, connect, and express themselves with like-minded individuals. Funding will support activity supplies, breakfast, lunch, insurance, and training for facilitators.

$6,500 to GoggleWorks Center for the Arts for its ongoing “GoggleWorks Gardens at Lauer’s Park” project. This project has four local gardens, which serve as local green spaces and outdoor classroom spaces for students. This program will provide two recurring weekly classes in the garden classrooms, as well as four after-school art programs. GoggleWorks Gardens at Lauer’s Park is a collaborative program of Lauer’s Park Elementary, Longwood Gardens, Rodale Institute, The Food Trust, and local farms. The funding will support program staff salaries.

$6,510 to Opportunity House for kitchen equipment upgrades. This grant will support the cost of upgrading the kitchen, which will allow the shelter to produce meals more efficiently and offer a greater selection of meal options. Funding will support the cost of a planetary floor mixer, a combination food processor, an immersion blender, and a meat slicer, as well as the cost of shipping for these appliances.

$6,750 to Immanuel United Church of Christ for its Preschool summer camp. This project provides summer day camp programs for children ages three to five. The goal of the day camp is to help students retain their school year momentum during the summer and to help younger students start their preschool education in a Christian setting. This grant will support the teacher’s salaries and supplies for snacks and crafts.

$8,000 to Hope of the Nations (HOTN) Hope Center for its Summer Arts Camp. The weeklong summer arts camp will feature dance classes and hands-on crafts. HOTN will partner with Feet on the Streets Ministries to serve elementary and middle-school-aged children. Funding will support camp administration, food for students, craft supplies, dance instruction, and more.

$8,250 to Café Esperanza for a project called “The Breakfast Club.” This project works to combat hunger in the summer months by providing free, nourishing breakfast to kids that would typically get free breakfast at school. Café Esperanza plans to provide additional summer enrichment activities for students, such as gardening, an art camp, a support group, and an anti-bullying program. Funding will support the costs of food, plants, garden expenses, art supplies, and salaries for supporting staff.

$10,000 to New Journey Community Outreach Inc. for its ongoing Fighting Poverty, Feeding Hope project. The goals of this project are restoring hope, dignity, and comfort in the community, while providing individuals in need with clothing and food through various outlets, including a daily soup kitchen, weekly grocery distribution, and an emergency food distribution and clothing center. Through this program, New Journey Community Outreach Inc. plans to serve 50,000 lunches and provides food pantry groceries for 9,200 families and emergency food for 480 families. Funding will support program staff wages, professional fees, and utility costs.

$10,000 to The Salvation Army for its Rental Assistance Program. The Salvation Army – Reading helps support local individuals and families who are struggling to pay rent, with an emphasis on supporting older clients who live on a fixed income. This allows these individuals to stay in their homes, reducing homelessness and eviction in the community. Funding will pay landlords to support families in need of rental assistance.

Both the First United Church of Christ Mission Fund and the St. Johns UCC Reading Fund were created with the goal of supporting causes that were important to the churches, with an emphasis on addressing pressing needs for youth. To learn more about the St. Johns UCC Reading Fund, visit To learn more about the First United Church of Christ Mission Fund, visit


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

Having a community-based summer camp opportunity for children can be beneficial – and in some cases necessary – for families. The Salvation Army Reading Citadel has long recognized the need for affordable summer childcare and hosts a summer day camp for children ages 6 through 13. The program is supported in part by a grant from the First United Church of Christ Mission Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

Last year, the Salvation Army’s summer camp provided 42 children with a healthy environment where they could spend their days during the summer. The camp offered activities to keep the kids entertained, such as academic instruction, arts and crafts, unstructured playtime, opportunities to explore science and nature, field trips, bible lessons, and more.

This summer camp first ran in 2021, and the Salvation Army Reading Citadel was able to host 26 children. The following year, the camp expanded, and a decrease in COVID-19 cases in the area allowed for more field trip opportunities.

The primary goal of summer camp is to further develop academic, artistic, and leadership skills while helping children retain the academic progress they had made during the school year.

To achieve this goal, the camp staff had the children take math and reading assessments during the first week of camp. Based on the performance of the campers, the camp staff assigned children math and reading lessons that would benefit them the most. At the end of the camp season, the children took a new exam at the same difficulty level. The camp staff found that the children had improved their scores by an average of more than 16 percent.

The First United Church of Christ Mission Fund supports causes that were important to the mission of the First United Church of Christ in Reading, PA, including helping Berks County children participate in activities that their families would otherwise not be able to afford.

When asked about the impact that summer camp had on student life, Victoria Schrag, secretary of Salvation Reading Citadel, said, “It felt like we were building a family here at the summer camp.”

In the coming years, the Salvation Army Reading Citadel staff hopes to expand to support even more campers.

To learn more about the First United Church of Christ Mission Fund, visit

To learn more about the Salvation Army Reading Citadel, visit

READING, PA (July 6, 2023) – Berks County Community Foundation recently notified the recipients of the 2023 grants from the Albany Township Tomorrow Fund.  

The Albany Township Tomorrow Fund provides grants for community-minded organizations and initiatives that benefit the residents of Albany Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, with a preference given to programs related to youth education and advancement.  

The following grants were awarded: 

The Albany Township Tomorrow Fund accepts applications annually from February 1 – March 15. 

This fund was created in 2019 with the to improve the quality of life for Albany Township residents. To learn more , visit here.

Media Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Phone: 610-685-2231, Email address:


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

READING, PA (June 28, 2023) – Berks County Community Foundation recently awarded $10,600 from the Berks County Tennis Fund to two organizations that are hosting summer tennis programs for Berks County youth. $3,810 was awarded to the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association (CWTA) for its CWTA Summer Tennis Program. Funds will support the costs of summer camp salaries, tennis balls, rackets, and other tennis equipment.  

CWTA promotes tennis in the Conrad Weiser area and across Berks County through a variety of tennis programs for all ages and skill levels. The summer program is open to any student-athlete in Berks County. Its primary goal is to instill strong values related to self-esteem, leadership, and integrity in players, and to show individuals how tennis can have a positive impact on one’s life.  

$6,790 was awarded to the Reading Recreation Commission for its City of Reading (COR) Tennis & Education Club. Funds will pay for court instructors and educational program staff. 

The mission of the Reading Recreation Commission is to provide quality recreation programs and facilities for the residents of Reading with a primary focus on youth programs. 

Its tennis program teaches children and the community about tennis, education, nutrition, and fitness while providing a positive, well-rounded summer experience. Up to 300 individuals, primarily students in the city of Reading, participate each year. Registrations from participants from other areas of Berks County are also accepted. 

“Our program helps children learn and develop positive personality characteristics that are useful on the tennis court, but, more importantly, are applicable in many off-court situations,” says Matthew Lubas, recreation supervisor at Reading Recreation Commission. 

The Berks County Tennis Fund was created to enhance the quality of life for children and adults in Berks County through the sport of tennis. Programs supported by grants promote and teach tennis as a lifelong leisure activity, a competitive sport, and a vehicle to develop skills in patience, self-discipline, and critical thinking. This fund accepts applications annually from January 1 – March 15. To learn more about this fund, visit  

Media Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Phone: 610-685-2231, Email address:

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


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

Media Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Phone: 610-685-2231, Email address: