READING, PA (May 31, 2017) – Seven Berks County organizations that empower women and girls have received $37,000 in grants thanks to the donations of 37 local women.

A group of women started the Power of the Purse in Berks County Fund at Berks County Community Foundation in 2012 to improve the lives of local women and children, said Chiara Renninger, one of the group’s founders.

“Our donations are combined so that we can have a greater impact together than we would if we made the donations individually,” she said.

Each year, group members review grant applications, visit nonprofits, and vote to determine which programs will receive grants. Members are encouraged to attend four meetings per year.

The group has 37 members who commit a minimum of $1,000 per year if they are over age 35, and a minimum of $500 per year if they are 35 and under.

Since the group began, it has awarded $145,243 in grants to local organizations.

The grants this year include $10,000 to Reading Recreation Commission for its Girls Leadership Program, which teaches young women in urban environments to be leaders and gives them the tools to be healthy, successful members of society.

The funding from Power of the Purse will allow the program to continue in the 2017-2018 school year at Northwest Middle School and the Third and Spruce Recreation Center.

Students participate in the Girls Leadership Program at two locations in Reading, including Northwest Middle School.

“When one of the girls tells you her favorite part of the program is helping others and paying it forward in her school and community, we know that we’re doing the right things,” said Daphne E. Klahr, executive director of Reading Recreation Commission. “It’s so gratifying that these girls see themselves as leaders and that they know they have the ability to make positive change happen. They will be the future Power of the Purse women, for sure.”

The other grants for 2017:

  • $10,000 to Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania for its Funded Initiatives Program, an innovative, out-of-school-time leadership development effort that engages 1,400 girls between the ages of 5 and 17 in underserved areas of Berks County.
  • $5,000 to the YMCA of Reading & Berks County for its Y-Haven child care and transportation program, which enables women in YMCA transitional living, who would otherwise be homeless, to quickly research and accept jobs and educational opportunities by covering child care and transportation costs.
  • $4,480 to Community Prevention Partnership of Berks County for its Nurse Family Partnership program, which provides home visitation to first time, low-income mothers beginning in pregnancy and continuing until the child’s second birthday.
  • $3,562 to Clare of Assisi House, which offers transitional residential services and life-skills training for non-violent women who are coming out of prison and need a safe living environment while they become self-sufficient.
  • $2,570 to Girls on the Run of Berks County for scholarships to Reading School District elementary and middle school girls from low-income households so they can participate in this youth development program.
  • $1,388 to the Children’s Home of Reading for a program that helps females in the Berks County jail system prepare for successful lives outside of prison and make better life choices.


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