FARO Community Grants award nearly $25K to innovative community engagement projects in Reading

Nearly a total of $25,000 has been awarded to innovative community engagement projects in Reading. Barrio Alegría and The Wyomissing Foundation partnered for a third year to identify and fund initiatives that aim to get members of the community actively improving their own lives, the lives of others, and building important life skills.

The support is the culmination of review for what are known as FARO grants. In Spanish, “faro” means lighthouse, which speaks to the mission of finding and empowering efforts that aim to spread light in the community and act as a guide for those who want to better their communities.

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The one-time grants are specifically geared toward groups who are often overlooked in institutional philanthropy but who have a vision for recurring programs that can be catalysts for positive change in the city of Reading. All of the awardees are either nonprofits with an annual budget less than $250,000, or simply individuals with a unique project. The grants do not fund one-day events or celebrations.

Daniel Egusquiza, executive director of Barrio Alegría, said FARO grants are unique in that they power ideas that sprout organically from within the community.

“As a best practice at Barrio, we always look to our neighbors for guidance to know what they want and need in their neighborhood.” Egusquiza said. “These projects that we identified for funding all come from people who know this city and the desires of the people who live here; they are not dreamed up by a disconnected professional who only enters Reading to go to an office and leave.”

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Barrio Alegría convened a committee to review the applications that were submitted earlier this year. That committee mostly consists of young Reading residents who are part of Barrio’s Leadership Development Cohort, as well as Egusquiza and Virginia Rush, vice president of The Wyomissing Foundation. All funding for the projects comes from The Wyomissing Foundation.

This year’s FARO grant’s include:

Berks Bards receiving $5,000 for Growing the Art of Poetry in Reading: This project will include regular free poetry workshops in public spaces, Downtown Reading and schools. They will welcome teens and others to improve their craft.

Block 2 Bank Fishing receiving $5,000 for Block 2 Bank Fishing: This project aims to foster a love for outdoor activities, with a central focus on fishing. They will also give equipment to kids and instill the principles of environmental stewardship.

Joel Delgado receiving $3,000 for Magical Reading: They will facilitate 10 magic workshops with the goal of building self-confidence in children, showcasing their skills, and inspiring them to explore their creativity through magic.

Latin Fusion Baseball receiving $5,000 for Back to the Basic: They will give opportunities to young baseball players to build discipline, gain nutritional knowledge, and play on an international stage.

The Sisterhood of Reading receiving $5,000 for Blossoming Sisters: They will take young women on visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, build leadership skills, find funding for college, and enhance financial literacy.

Previous FARO grants went to fund a summer performance/recording events for Reading’s rap community through Pagoda City Record’s Summer Cypher Series; teen ambassadors to promote violence prevention through the anti-violence nonprofit The Real Deal610; and monthly gatherings for men to discuss responsibilities of fatherhood, trauma, and conflict resolution with The Forge.

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Berks Weekly
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