Three organizations that address social justice and cultural awareness in Berks County have been awarded $10,000 in grants from the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

For the 2020-2021 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 racial injustice as a major concern for students in Berks County.

The Youth Advisory Board annually awards the grants from the Youth and Philanthropy Fund.

YAB invited applications for funding this school year from programs and projects that address racial injustice through community engagement or programs that promote education, equity, or equality.

Over the last year, YAB has worked with other Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading students to engage hundreds of people in education and awareness initiatives as well as projects supporting racial equity.

Projects of note include the Stand Together Against Racism pledge, the development of the educational https://www.yvc-star.org/ website, the “YVC Voices for Justice, Equality, and Inclusion” public art installation currently on display at Berks County Community Foundation, and more.

“In a tumultuous year in terms of racial justice, and during an ongoing global pandemic, it’s a hopeful sign that these dedicated students remained steadfast in their purpose to engage other people and to fund and encourage groups doing similar work,” said Rachel Kuhn, a co-founder of VOiCEup Berks and director of the Youth Advisory Board.

VOiCEup Berks, which operates as a fund of Berks County Community Foundation, creates opportunities for people to volunteer, learn, and lead in their communities. VOiCEup runs the Youth Advisory Board.

This year’s Youth and Philanthropy Fund grants:

$5,000 to Aldea – The People’s Justice Center to provide pro bono legal representation to immigrants, their families, and children who need assistance with their immigration status.

$2,500 to Barrio Alegria for its La Ronda Del Barrio podcast program that addresses community issues that affect the Latinx community. This platform provides youth with a safe space to explore different sides of an issue.

$2,500 to Widoktadwen Center for Native Knowledge for its “New Narrative Project,” which seeks to partner with educational institutions and community organizations to revise false narratives surrounding indigenous people and work toward repairing damage done by false narratives, stereotypes, and prejudices.

In April 1998, the Board of Directors of Berks County Community Foundation approved the creation of a Youth Advisory Committee 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 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.

From 1998 to 2021, the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation distributed 113 grants totaling $353,258. Learn more here: https://bccf.org/youth/

Article also available in: Español (Spanish)