New Berks County Community Foundation grant programs to help nonprofits following the pandemic

Mike Urban, Reading Eagle, Pa.
·3 min read

Feb. 22—The Berks County Community Foundation is launching three new programs aimed at guiding nonprofits in the region into a post-pandemic period.

Up to $100,000 in grants may be awarded through each of these programs, foundation officials said Monday in a press release.

The programs will fund:

— Planning initiatives for nonprofit organizations seeking to better map their futures.

— Arts and culture programs, exhibits, or events to be held in the fourth quarter of 2021 or in 2022.

— Projects aimed at connecting community members to each other in ways that help Berks County residents get to know their neighbors, whether in the same town or across the county.

Because of the range in size and scope of nonprofit organizations in Berks, there is neither a minimum nor a maximum request amount. The deadline to apply is March 31, and the grants will be awarded by May 31.

In conversations with local nonprofits, the Community Foundation found that the majority of organizations made changes to their operations that will allow them to weather the pandemic, said Heidi Williamson, senior vice president for programs and initiatives.

"We also learned that organizations are turning their attention to what comes next, as they evaluate the changes wrought by the pandemic and look toward the future," she said. "These grants from the Hawley and Myrtle Quier Fund of Berks County Community Foundation are intended to help get them there."

To apply, use this link, www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=BerksCF, or go to bccf.org and click on "Apply for a Grant" under the Scholarships + Grants section of the website menu. You must create an account to access the application system.

In the planning program, nonprofit organizations based in and serving Berks are eligible to apply for one-time grants for the type and scope of planning that makes the most sense for them, including for strategic planning or planning needs such as technology, capital projects, construction, or something else specific.

Details are available at bccf.org/nonprofit-planning-2021/.

The arts and culture program is designed to help Berks County's nonprofit arts and culture organizations ramp up again for public programs, exhibits, and events to be held during the fourth quarter of 2021 or in 2022. Nonprofit organizations must be based in Berks and the programming may be held anywhere in the county.

This opportunity builds on the success of the Community Foundation's recent five-year Berks County Arts Fund grant program, which distributed $500,000 to support arts activities in specific rural areas and on Penn Street, officials said. While that program was limited in geography, this new opportunity is open to organizations and activities that take place across the county. The grants will help offset revenue and fundraising losses caused by the pandemic that could interfere with the rapid return of new programming.

Details are available at bccf.org/arts-culture-2021/.

The goal of the special "You Are Here" grant program is to foster human connection in communities around Berks.

Nonprofit organizations may apply for funding for projects aimed at connecting community members. Projects that break down polarization, create a sense of shared community, highlight different points of view, and showcase a variety of voices will be prioritized, officials said.

Organizations are encouraged to be creative. Applications will be welcomed from all types of nonprofits including those that focus on arts, culture, children, young adults, seniors, worship, education, and community information.

Details are available at bccf.org/you-are-here-2021/.