United Way Awards New Grants to Expand Community Support

United Way is amplifying its community support by awarding two additional Impact Grants from the $10 million gift the organization received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott last year. The grant details follow:

  • As the only Keystone STAR 4 childcare within the City of Reading, Second Street Learning Center (SSLC) strives to maintain the quality rating, based on standards of Pennsylvania Office of Child Development & Early Learning. The center is funded, in part, by United Way and provides a much-needed service for working families, who are only able to work because they receive help with childcare costs. More than 90% of its enrollment are children of families living at poverty level. SSLC attained its STAR 4 in 2019; the program had 350 children enrolled prior to the pandemic. Capacity is expected to return to similar levels. The $146,161 grant supports SSLC’s capital improvements needed to maintain the STAR 4 level rating.
  • PA 211 East serves Berks County and surrounding areas with 211, a free, confidential information and referral service connecting people to the help they need around childcare, after-school programs, housing and utility assistance, food banks, elder care, health programs and more. The call center provides 24/7 service. The service’s call volume experienced significant increases since the pandemic, with Berks County 211 calls and website visits increasing 28% and 29%, respectively. The $120,000 Impact Grant supports additional resources for the ongoing demand at the PA 211 East Call Center and to decrease wait times for callers in need of help.

United Way of Berks County has now awarded a total of six Impact Grants totaling over $1.1 million from the MacKenzie Scott gift, along with $500,000 supporting COVID-related grants this year. Focused Grants, multi-year grants addressing systemic issues, will be awarded in 2022, based on research, community conversations and specific requests for proposals. An Advisory Committee, comprised of United Way board members and community volunteers, provides guidance and recommendations for putting these funds to work in Berks County.

“The generosity of Ms. Scott allows United Way to create significant impact beyond what is accomplished with annual program investments. The gift opens doors to creating unique opportunities and new collaborations focused on our community’s future,” said Tammy White, President of United Way of Berks County.