The generosity of our donors allowed us to award $610,000 in scholarships in 2023. Each scholarship has specific eligibility criteria based on the donor’s intention when the scholarship was created. Our scholarship application opens on January 1 each year. The deadline to submit all applications is 11:59 P.M. on March 1. Applications cannot be edited or submitted after the March 1 deadline. To maintain a fair process, we cannot make exceptions.

All of the scholarship opportunities currently offered by the Community Foundation are available to students with no need for any documentation from FAFSA for this year only.

How do I apply? Create an account in our online portal using a personal email address. Do not use your school address. Once you create an account, this account will serve as a hub for your universal application. Ensure you have ample time to complete the application, as it may require up to an hour.

What’s a universal application? It’s a single form that matches your answers to the scholarship(s) for which you may qualify.

How do I know if I am eligible for a scholarship? After submitting your application, check your dashboard for additional questions or requests that need to be considered for the matched scholarship.

Where is my dashboard and how do I access it? Click here to watch a video guide on accessing your dashboard.

Should you have questions during the application process, our FAQ section provides helpful information. We wish you the best of luck. If you have questions, you can email or call us at 610.685.2223 and ask for Kim Sheffer, Lifelong Learning Program Officer.

Innovative classroom projects can serve as a catalyst for strong academic performance. Librarians at Brecknock Elementary School wanted to enhance the conventional reading curriculum by introducing a project that would excite children about reading and promote collaboration and creative thinking.  

To ensure students would enjoy the project and meet their required goals, the library staff tapped into a pre-existing student interest in trading cards. The project allowed students to learn about different book genres while collecting unique trading cards they helped to design.  

The students worked with the library staff to brainstorm book categories and genres. These categories later corresponded to characters on the trading cards. Within each category, graphic design students at Governor Mifflin Senior High School designed fantasy characters that were then printed on the cards. Students could collect different sets of character cards by reading books in a variety of genres. 

Both the elementary students and high school students imagined the specific details of the land the characters lived in, making for a much more collaborative and personalized project. They printed the cards in-house at the Governor Mifflin Print Shop.  

“The cards motivated third and fourth grade library users to thoughtfully explore new books that represent diverse characters, topics, and genres, and promote a sense of belonging and connection,” said Rachel Sebastian, Learner-Centered K-4 Teacher Librarian. 

The cards often encouraged children to pick books outside of their comfort zones. Teachers sometimes find it challenging to get children to develop an interest in nonfiction work, specifically nonfiction that is not about animals. This trading card project tackled this challenge by rewarding students for reading books outside of their comfort zone, as children collected different cards by checking out books of various genres from the library. 

In May, the library held a trading card convention, where students set up booths to share their favorite cards. 

The Literacy Trading Card program at Brecknock Elementary School breathed new life into the world of reading. By mixing the joys of reading and collecting, the initiative has succeeded in creating excited readers who view books as more than just words on paper. This innovative project shows students the magic that lies within every page and the endless possibilities that words can unlock. 

Funding for this project came from the Teacher Mini-Grants program of Berks County Community Foundation. To apply for a teacher mini-grant, please click here.

This article is part of our 2023 Annual Report. To read the entire report, download it here.

Reading, PA – Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading (YVCR) has recognized Wilson High School junior, Samantha Martinez, with its annual Youth of the Year Award. As the youth program arm of VOiCEup Berks, YVCR engages over 500 Berks County students annually in projects that serve the community. This award is given to one student who has shown exemplary leadership skills, has advanced the mission of YVCR through volunteerism and the development of creative YVCR projects, and has the highest level of volunteer commitment recorded in the program year.

This program year, Samantha served over 230 hours on community projects ranging from volunteering at homeless shelters, to helping develop and run summer story time and playground programs, to facilitating conversations about equality and justice for groups of students in her school and adults in the community. Since her involvement with YVCR began five years ago, Samantha has amassed over 500 hours of service with the program, making Samantha the first recipient of the YVCR 500-Hour Award as well.

Samantha Martinez – Photo Courtesy of VOiCEup Berks

Samantha began her journey with YVCR as a sixth grader at Reading Southern Middle School. In middle school she worked with a group of her peers, developing projects to help underserved women and girls gain access to menstrual products. As a high school student at Wilson, Samantha has gone on to be a leader within the Stand Together Against Racism (S.T.A.R.) youth-driven initiative. She also serves as a YVCR Youth Mental Health Ambassador and served her first term on the Youth Advisory Board of Berks County Community Foundation and Youth Volunteer Corps.

“She is the epitome of grace, kindness and strength. Her leadership skills and ability to make everyone around her feel at ease makes her light impossible to ignore. She is a true leader and community changemaker.” says Lindsay Sites, YVCR Program Director.

“Having the opportunity to be a part of YVCR for the past five years has definitely changed my life for the better” says Samantha. “This program has not only taught me how to speak up for what’s right and be a better person, but it has also given me the chance to make lifelong friendships. I am beyond grateful to have accepted this award and hope to continue being a change maker in my community in the years to come.”

Samantha received the Youth of the Year recognition at the annual YVCR Awards Ceremony on August 1. Other students honored at the event included five of Samamtha’s fellow Wilson classmates – Jaida Garber, Kemi Ojikutu, Sindura Sridhar, Mia Worley and Athena Worley – who were each honored with the 100-in-One Award for completing over 100 hours of service to the community through YVCR in one program year. Cadence Perez from Muhlenberg High School received the Heart of YVC Award and the YVCR club at Northeast Middle School in Reading received the YVCR Project of the Year Award for its project addressing domestic violence and supporting Safe Berks.

Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading focuses on developing leadership skills and promoting a lifetime commitment to service among youth by offering student-driven 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 35,000 hours of service to help this community over the past 7 years. Find more information at  VOiCEup Berks is a fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

To learn more about the fund, click here

Press release originally published by VOiCEup Berks. Contact Contact: Christi Terefenko, Executive Director, christi@voiceupberls

YVC Awards 8.01.2023


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

In 2021, a $15,000 grant from Berks County Community Foundation to Our Town Foundation supported local arts in Hamburg. With a mission of revitalizing, promoting, and preserving the downtown historic district of Hamburg, Our Town Foundation wanted to reignite arts and culture in the community after the pandemic. The grant paid for performers and art teachers and marketing expenses. Activities included: 

Some of these activities were brought back to the community for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Town Foundation suffered financial loss during the pandemic due to the temporary closing of the Strand Theatre and the Art & Crafts Gallery.  

The community was very receptive to these planned events and opportunities. Many people took advantage of the art classes in the area. The movie screenings were popular among children and their families, especially movies related to holidays. The Polar Express movie screening around Christmastime sold out completely! With these movie screenings, Our Town Foundation entertained families and children while simultaneously supporting its mission by promoting and using a historical landmark in the town.  

Funding for these projects came from our 2021 Special Programs: Berks County Arts & Culture Ramp Up.  The goal of this one-time program was to provide grants that would support Berks County’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations as they ramped back up during the fourth quarter of 2021 or 2022.  The grant to Our Town Foundation was one of fourteen that was awarded through the program.

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

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 | 610.685.2223

A grant to the Mifflin Area YMCA from the Community Foundation’s Russell L. Hiller Charitable Trust Fund supported Y on the Fly, an on-the-move program that promotes health and wellness for local families. 

Y on the Fly stopped at different locations in the Governor Mifflin area. Each stop was themed around a different component of health and wellness, such as public safety, physical fitness, creativity, and mental health. The activities at each stop worked to promote family engagement and connection.  

For example, activities at the Nutrition Stop included a children’s activity book with nutrition-themed pages such as “Eat Right, Eat Healthy.” Families were encouraged to complete activities like a word search and food log. The children took part in a nutrition relay, where they ran and sorted healthy and unhealthy food. This relay, which used toy food, allowed children to partake in physical activity while applying the new knowledge they’d gained from the activity book.  

Hosting this program helped the YMCA educate children about taking care of their health. The YMCA also educated families about different services offered by the YMCA and other community resources.  

In the future, the Mifflin Area YMCA hopes to expand this program to reach more families.  

The grant that supported this program came from the Russell L. Hiller Charitable Trust Fund. The Russell L. Hiller Charitable Trust Fund was created in 2003 after the passing of Judge Russell L. Hiller. This fund was created with the goal of providing scholarships to Governor Mifflin students, as well as providing funding for programs that will benefit the residents of Governor Mifflin Area School District.  

To learn more about the Russell L. Hiller Charitable Trust Fund, visit 

For more information about the Mifflin Area YMCA, visit 

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

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:

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 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 VOiCEup Berks is a fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading MLK Family Full Event Schedule