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