READING, PA (June 11, 2020) – Three programs aimed at improving the environment in Berks County have been awarded $15,000 in grants from the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

For the 2019-2020 school year, the volunteer students of the Youth Advisory Board – a program of Berks County Community Foundation and the Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading – identified the environment as a major concern for students in Berks County.

“I can’t say enough about the dedication and perseverance of the Youth Advisory Board students this year,” said Rachel Kuhn, a co-founder of VOiCEup Berks and director of the Youth Advisory Board. “In the midst of a global pandemic, these students faced challenges that were never seen before in local youth volunteerism and philanthropy. But they persisted, chose an area of concern on which to focus, evaluated applications from a variety of nonprofits, and ultimately awarded grants to these three programs.”

This year’s Youth and Philanthropy Fund grants:

  • $5,900 to Berks Nature to engage the community to plant 100 mature trees in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
  • $5,000 to Delaware Riverkeeper Network to collect water quality data of stream health in Berks County, secure stronger protections for streams, and improve management for local streams.
  • $4,100 to Rock Hollow Woods Environmental Learning Center to renovate a barn to provide a year-round indoor facility for environmental programs when the weather is too severe to be outdoors.

In April 1998, the Board of Directors of Berks County Community Foundation approved the creation of a Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) in order to give interested Berks County youth a hands-on experience in philanthropy. Berks County Community Foundation strongly believes that young people should be able to participate in community decisions that affect them and their peers. Members of YAC had the annual responsibility of making decisions about the distribution of $15,000 in grants from Berks County Community Foundation’s Youth and Philanthropy Fund to programs and projects that serve Berks County teens.

In 2019, YAC merged with another program to become the Youth Advisory Board, a program of Berks County Community Foundation and the Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading.

Grants are now distributed annually from the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation through the Youth Advisory Board, which is run by VOiCEup Berks.

The new Youth Advisory Board program combines the grant-awarding component of YAC with the service-learning component of the Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading. The Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading is an affiliate of a national program. VOiCEup Berks runs the local affiliate. VOiCEup Berks operates as a fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

From 1998 to 2020, the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation distributed 110 grants totaling $343,258. Read more here: https://bccf.org/youth/

Youth Advisory Board 2019-2020

During the 2019-2020 school year, about 30 members of the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) participated in service-learning projects to address student-chosen issues, including the environment, which became a focus of YAB for the year. One of the projects was to assess the chemical and biological health of local streams.

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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.

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Contact: Jason Brudereck, Director of Communication, jasonb@bccf.org, 610.685.2223