United Way Berks Announces New Strategies to Expand Community Support

United Way of Berks County volunteers and staff utilize their experience and partnerships to provide crucial resources to community nonprofits providing critical health and human services.

United Way, through its donors’ commitment and generosity, is investing nearly $9.3 million this year to support programs and initiatives helping ongoing and emerging needs of local individuals and families.

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Recognizing COVID has created increased demands and costs for nonprofit services, United Way’s Board of Directors recently approved an additional $500,000, for a total to $1,000,000, earmarked for a COVID Response Grant pool.

This is in addition to the $1,000,000 raised by donors in 2020, which allowed United Way to award 50 grants to more than 40 different area nonprofits. “We know many individuals and families still face struggles around food, housing and basic needs,” said Tammy White, President of United Way of Berks County. “We are committed to getting the help to where it’s needed the most.”

United Way is implementing three new strategies, including the supplemental COVID response, with the gift received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott late last year. “We are grateful to Ms. Scott for entrusting United Way to lift our work beyond annual program investments,” added White.

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United Way is awarding Impact Grants to area nonprofits and/or collaborations to support expanded programming and capacity. The first Impact Grant is directed to Reading Hospital’s Street Medicine Program to provide care to our community’s most vulnerable population – individuals experiencing homelessness.

This program is supported by volunteer physicians and will serve more clients by restructuring its staffing model. The nearly $321,000 grant will allow the program to expand staffing to include: an advanced practice provider, a case manager and a community liaison—all focused on improving the coordination of services and preventive care for chronic health issues.

“The Street Medicine program is innovative and delivers medical care to those at an increased risk of illness. At a time when a key preventive measure is to stay at home, the program helps those who have no home,” shared White.

Multi-year grants centered on systemic issues and sustainable impact are also planned. White explained United Way has an Advisory Committee, comprised of board members and community volunteers, to ensure the funds are invested effectively.

“This work includes researching identified issues and engaging residents and leaders in Community Conversations. We will be looking at creative and collaborative initiatives designed to address root causes on a targeted issue.” The goal is to begin awarding these types of grants in early 2022.

“Our organization’s proven ability to deliver high-priority programs and achieve high-performing results were the driving factors in Ms. Scott selecting United Way of Berks County as one of her gift recipients,” added Joanne Judge, Chairperson of United Way’s Board of Directors.

“This opportunity greatly expands United Way’s capacity to accelerate community change while the support of United Way through the annual campaign continues to provide the ongoing resources for programs that make services available for more than 150,000 Berks Countians each year.”

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Berks Weekly
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