READING, PA (June 18, 2019) – Four programs that engage youth and contribute to an improved atmosphere in the City of Reading have been awarded $15,000 in grants from the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

The 30 teen members of the Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) spent the 2018-2019 school year learning about philanthropy, discussing issues that face local youth, evaluating organizations that tackle those issues, and deciding which groups will receive grants.

YAC members identified the atmosphere, opportunities, attractions, and living standards in the City of Reading as a major concern for students in Berks County.

Since 1998, YAC has distributed 107 grants totaling $328,258.

This year’s grants:

  • $5,000 to “RIZE Above Bars,” a program of the RIZE youth arts organization in which at-risk youth and youth with incarcerated parents take dance classes, perform throughout Reading, and engage in supportive programs to address trauma and other issues.
  • $5,000 to the VOiCEup Berks Summer of Service, which gives youth an array of service-learning opportunities that positively impact their community and empower them to create positive change.
  • $3,500 to Barrio Alegria for The OJOS: Eye of the Beholder, a multi-year initiative for youth to document life in Reading through photography.
  • $1,500 to I-Lead Inc.’s Salsa, Song and Food Festival, an outdoor music, dance and food event to attract youth downtown to celebrate the Hispanic culture and to collect and distribute clothing for local families in need.

Leaders of the 2018-2019 Youth Advisory Committee after presenting their recommendations to the board of Berks County Community Foundation, clockwise from left: Joanna Helm (Wyomissing, 2019); Mia Huber (Wyomissing, 2019); Nicholas Griffith (PA Virtual Charter School, 2019); Dante Porcaro (Berks Catholic, 2020); Sashank Sridhar (Wilson, 2019); Bryn Werley (Conrad Weiser, 2019); and Jeyda Bermudez (Reading, 2020).

This fall, the Community Foundation’s YAC is merging with another program to become the Youth Advisory Board, a program of Berks County Community Foundation and Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading. The Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading is an affiliate of a national program. VOiCEup Berks runs the local affiliate.

The new Youth Advisory Board program combines the grant-awarding component of the Community Foundation’s youth program with the service-learning component of the Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading.

The application process for students to join the 2019-2020 Youth Advisory Board is closed. Applications will open in May 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year. For further information, contact Rachel Kuhn. A co-founder of VOiCEup Berks, Rachel is director of the Youth Advisory Board.

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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 www.bccf.org.