The Community Foundation manages several charitable funds that benefit cultural groups and organizations. In early 2023, the Kutztown Pipe Band, which is made up of students, faculty, and staff from Kutztown University, local students, and community members, requested a grant from the Juniper Fund to buy materials for its Learn About Bagpipes program. The band created this program to promote excitement and enthusiasm for Scottish music and culture.  

The band first introduced the program at both Conrad Weiser East Elementary and Conrad Weiser West Elementary. Band members gave demonstrations during assemblies in which students heard songs played on various forms of bagpipes. Laura Sherrod, pipe major of the Kutztown Pipe Band, and Diana Cook, member of the Kutztown Pipe Band and an elementary music teacher, gave these demonstrations. If students had questions, they could get answers from the pipers directly during a special panel called “Ask the Piper.”  

Kutztown Pipe Band hopes to expand its educational opportunities to include more adult programming. The first adult event took place at the Kutztown Public Library. Libraries pay a discounted fee to host the Kutztown Pipe Band for educational sessions, while demonstrations are free to schools thanks to the grant funding and the generosity of the members of the Kutztown Pipe Band who volunteer their time to educate students on Scottish history. 

The Kutztown Pipe Band began with five piping students in 2017 and now has more than two dozen members.  

In 2022, the band started the Learn About Bagpipes program to educate audiences about the instrument and to instill in them a deeper appreciation of Scottish Heritage. The musicians tailor each demonstration to the audience, and describe the history and functionality of the instruments, and play different tunes on different bagpipes.  

The Juniper Fund of Berks County Community Foundation was established in 2010 by The Murray Clan Society of North America to support the education, promotion and preservation of the history, heritage and traditions of Scotland. 

The fund provides financial support for the following purposes but is not limited to: 

The $300 grant from the Juniper Fund to the Kutztown Pipe Band supported the cost of these educational programs, which allowed, and will continue to allow, the Kutztown Pipe Band to offer programs free for schools. 

 The presence of the Kutztown Pipe Band at local schools and community events carries a transformative power. It sparks curiosity, ignites passion, and inspires young minds to explore the world of music and culture. By funding the band, the Juniper Fund is growing young talent, and offering musicians a chance to engage with a unique form of art. 

One of the ways we help to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents is by funding programs that help support education activities and the general health of the community which can include youth sports.  

 There are so many benefits to youth sports. Through sports, children learn a variety of skills that they can apply to life, such as leadership, teamwork, and discipline. Additionally, children are given the opportunity to practice a healthy activity while making friends at the same time.  

Reading Youth Legion Baseball recognized the need for affordable sports in the Reading Area and created a summer baseball team for youths. To help cover operational costs, the 2022 Community General Hospital Healthcare Fund granted the program $6,000. The funding covered the costs of team registration and insurance, new uniforms, baseball equipment, and umpire salaries. The team played in the Senior Berks American Legion League for a total of eight weeks. These eight weeks provided Reading Youth with a baseball experience with a competitive atmosphere comparable to standard travel baseball.   

The 2022 Community General Hospital Healthcare Fund supports a variety of causes, all of which benefit the general health of the Berks County community. To learn more about this fund, visit 

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

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

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.

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:

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 

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: