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 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.
From 1998 to 2020, the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation distributed 110 grants totaling $343,258.
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.