BERKS COUNTY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION'S YOUTH ADVISORY COMMITTEE AWARDS $15,000 IN GRANTS TO LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) of Berks County Community Foundation distributed $15,000 in grants to six nonprofit agencies for programs that address the issue of hunger among youth in Berks County.

Started in 1998, the Youth Advisory Committee teaches teenagers about philanthropy, and helps them understand community issues that affect them. Each year, YAC members experience the impact of charitable giving first hand by evaluating issues that affect youth and by providing grants from the Youth Fund of Berks County Community Foundation to organizations that address those issues.

YAC has distributed $228,817 in grants from the Youth Fund to 54 nonprofit organizations since its inception.

“The Youth Advisory Committee has given me the chance to meet some amazing people and kids from other schools,” said Karah Horbach, a 2013 graduate of Twin Valley High School. “I would not have learned so much about the community if I was not part of the committee. It has been an integral part of my life and my decisions, future and present.”

This year, the YAC members wanted to promote healthy and active lifestyles. The teens evaluated 20 proposals, visited the requesting organizations to learn more, and recommended the programs to fund to the Community Foundation’s board of directors.

YAC recommended grants to the following agencies:

- Girls On The Run of Berks County (GOTR) received $3,000 to fund scholarships for girls to participate in the 2013-2014 program, which uses running to teach girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

- Greater Berks Food Bank received $3,000 to fund “Produce for Kids,” a program that provides fresh and nutritious foods to impoverished youth at six elementary schools in the Reading School District as they leave school for the day. The program attempts to not only encourage and increase the consumption of healthy foods for kids, but also help establish a lifetime habit of healthy eating.

- Mary’s Shelter received $4,000 to fund “Healthy Starts,” a comprehensive and interactive educational program that teaches low-income women proper nutrition in pregnancy and for their newborns through age one. The curriculum combines nutritional instruction with meal planning, budgeting discussions and trips to the grocery store.

- YMCA of Reading & Berks County received $1,500 to help fund “Summer Camp Cooking Club,” where children participate in hands-on activities that teach them healthy eating habits and learn ways to be physically active. The grant will be used to buy fresh produce and healthy ingredients.

- Set Point Tennis Organization received $3,000 to fund “Community Life Skills,” a program to help at-risk youth develop overall physical well-being by focusing on health, physical activity and education through the game of tennis. In conjunction with the Evening Reporting Center, Salvation Army and Dream Prevention Program, the program aims to engage at-risk youth in a fun, safe and competitive activity in order to open the door of communication for the vital topics of life.

- Spring Township Library received $500 to cover the expenses to hire Miss Maggie for its “Stay Healthy with Miss Maggie” program, which teaches children to make healthy choices through a fun, interactive program with songs, dancing and puppets.

“The Youth Advisory Committee members are enthusiastic about each grant they recommend not only because they make life better for children in Berks County, but also because the grants can have a tremendous impact today and in the future,” said Sarah MacAusland, Youth Advisory Committee advisor.

To learn more, including how to make a donation to the Youth Fund, go to www.bccf.org or contact Sarah MacAusland, communication manager and YAC advisor, at 610.685.2223.