LIVE UNITED Grants

United Way LIVE UNITED Grants provide support to local grassroots and community-based organizations for creative projects that bring people together and improve the quality of life for Berks Countians. These grants are in addition to the annual funding provided to programs delivered through United Way’s agency partners.

Please note: For 2020, United Way of Berks County directed additional grant dollars to support the Berks COVID-19 Response Fund. No LIVE UNITED Grants were awarded.

2022 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2022 LU grants were awarded to several non-profit organizations working on “great ideas” and creative projects that bring people together to help improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling $34,500 were awarded to seven recipients:

  • 18th Wonder Improvement Association: Garden and Nutritional Learning Program The 18th Wonder Improvement Association will implement Garden Based Learning (GBL) through a series of workshops available for children in K-8 of the 18th Ward. These workshops will teach children about healthy eating and gardening skills through experiential learning. The program will impact a minimum of 60 children and contribute to all aspects of basic education including academic skills, personal development, social development, moral development, leadership, and life skills. Beyond the children’s educational programming, the project will offer families opportunities to learn about the health benefits of food grown in the garden.
  • Café Esperanza’s expansion to provide Brunch services. Café Esperanza, located in Northwest Reading, is a pay-what-you-can community café serving healthy meals to all regardless of ability to pay. The grant will be used to purchase food and supplies appropriate for offering brunch to neighbors and guests as well supplement staffing costs. The mid-to-late morning hours are when the Cafe is busiest, offering the greatest opportunity for building relationships among the diverse groups of people who embrace the Café’s mission and vision.
  • FaithCare, Inc. to help launch the Healthy Living Program FaithCare, Inc. is committed to meeting healthcare needs in the inner City of Reading that would otherwise go unmet. They accomplish this by offering free, bilingual, and holistic healthcare for the entire family. The Healthy Living Program focuses on promoting healthy choices to reduce the risk of diseases, disabilities, and death. The team develops a personalized care plan to encourage every individual and family to begin healthy living. The plan includes access to vaccinations, emotional health screenings, medical check-ups, school physicals, specialty care, and healthcare information and exercise regimens. The program prioritizes women’s health.
  • Girls on the Run of Berks County 2022: Healthy Snacks Team Allowance Girls on the Run of Berks County (GOTR Berks) is a physical activity-based positive youth development (PA-PYD) program designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. GOTR Berks provides each team with the necessary supplies to conduct their programs including first-aid kits, hand sanitizer, facial tissues and essentials that might be needed throughout the season. Recognizing roughly 20% of their target population lives below the poverty level and may not
    have access to food, GOTR Berks will increase each team’s site allowance and provide the children with healthy, after-school snacks as part of their program and ongoing commitment to inclusion and equity for all participants
  • RIZE’s Solidarity through Art: Violence Prevention and Gender Equity program RIZE is a youth arts non-profit organization in Reading that fosters the arts to promote a healthy lifestyle, strives to unite our culturally diverse communities by strengthening families for social change, and creates art programs and policy initiatives that support families and youth. Under the supervision of Dr. Ebonie Cunningham Stringer, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Penn State Berks, “rap sessions” with local youth will be facilitated by Penn State Criminal Justice students. The rap sessions (talking and chatting in informal ways) will provide local youth the opportunity to express their thoughts and experiences around solidarity, gender equity, and gender-based violence.
  • Sisters Network Inc. Reading Chapter to increase their Sister Love Care Package reach Sisters Network Inc. Reading Chapter (SNIRC) supports the Black community to stop the silence and talk about how devastating the impact breast cancer has in Berks County and other surrounding counties. They educate on breast cancer awareness, encourage early breast cancer screening, and support survivors and their families. SNIRC will provide 100 Sister Love Care Packages, designed to educate and reduce stress, to newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer survivors and survivors with active treatment who attend monthly meetings and/or become members or SNIRC. Monthly group meetings and workshops will teach mindfulness to help manage stress and anxiety and educate on ways to advocate for your health and claim “me time.”
  • Western Berks Free Medical Clinic, Inc. to support a media campaign to raise awareness of their free medical clinic Western Berks Free Medical Clinic, Inc. (WBFMC) operates out of St. Daniels Church in Robesonia and is in the process of opening a satellite clinic at Mary’s Shelter in Shillington. WBFMC provides acute and chronic healthcare services in general adult medicine and gynecology to the underinsured or uninsured population of Berks County by appointment only. To expand their reach and educate the community on services offered to the uninsured and underinsured, WBFMC will increase advertising efforts by distributing flyers to churches and food banks, developing Public Service Announcements for local radio, TV, and newspapers, and developing and maintaining social media sites with clinic information and updates.
2021 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2021 LU grants were awarded to several organizations focusing on creative projects bringing people together to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling $27,500 were awarded to six recipients:

  • Berks Business Education Coalition (BBEC) to Students Interacting with Business Internship Program received a $5,000 grant to help expand an internship component in the senior year curriculum at Antietam and Muhlenberg School Districts. Participating students investigate potential career interest and gain valuable employment skills
  • Girls on the Run of Berks County received a $5,000 grant to support financial assistance to girls in grades 3-5 attending the organization’s 2022 Summer Camp. The program focuses on leadership, empowerment and social-emotional well-being through physical activity
  • Mentors for Berks Youth received a $5,000 grant to launch a College Bound Mentoring program. The program aims to expand the horizons and potential of low-income, first generation students through a college-advising program in the Reading and Muhlenberg High Schools. Students and parents will work with a College Coach and mentor/alumni who is an employed college graduate from a similar background
  • Schwarzwald UCC Preschool in Exeter Township received a $2,500 grant to help replace 40-year old playground equipment used by children, ages two to five. Outside social play has become even more important due to the impact of COVID
  • The Widoktadwen Center for Native Knowledge received a $5,000 grant to launch its Firekeepers Youth Program. The organization promotes the Native American culture, as census results show Native Americans as a growing population. Berks County is home to over 8,000 American Indians/Alaska Natives/Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. The Firekeepers Youth Program is designed to reinforce Native teachings and will include special programs and social and cultural activities
  • Wood-to-Wonderful’s 2021-22 “Reading is Toyrific” Program received a $5,000 grant to support literacy outreach with 13th & Union Elementary School and will provide books and story-related wooden toys to elementary students. The program works with adults having disabilities to make the toys
2019 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2019 LU grants were awarded to several organizations focusing on creative projects bringing people together to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling $18,000 were awarded to four recipients:

  • Barrio Alegría to support Barrio Avanza Leadership Cohort, a Spanish Literacy Education Program, which will help increase literacy among Spanish speakers in our community
  • Blankets of Hope to support expansion of the Bed Set Distribution Program, which provides complete bed sets to individuals transitioning to a more permanent living situation
  • Transformations Transitional Living to support a Lecture Series, which will highlight individuals who have been successful in their recoveries from addiction and/or trauma
  • Veterans Coalition of Pennsylvania to support outfitting a trailer, which allows VCoP to provide clothing, hot meals and other basic necessities to veterans and their families
2018 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2018 LU grants were awarded to several organizations focusing on creative projects bringing people together to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling $29,480 were awarded to six recipients:

  • 18th Wonder Improvement Association to engage youth in the 18th Wonder Community Improvement Project
  • Antietam Vally Recreation and Community Center to support the Carsonia Park Playground Project
  • Barrio Alegria to support the Barrio Alegria Nourishment Cooperative (BANCo)
  • Million Youth Chess Club to provide the After School Chess Club at Olivet Boys & Girls Club
  • Oley Valley Community Library to support “STEM Arrives at OVCL”, utilizing Maker Space sets
  • Wood-to-Wonderful to support “Reading is Toyrific” at 13th & Union Elementary School
2017 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2017 LU grants were awarded to several organizations focusing on creative projects bringing people together to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling $28,000 were awarded to the following recipients:

  • Barrio Alegria, in support of a dance production centered on human trafficking and immigration
  • Blankets of Hope, to provide comforting fleece blankets to a variety of individuals in need
  • Girls on the Run, in support of scholarships for participants in the Reading School District
  • Mentors for Berks Youth, to support some of the 2017-2018 educational experiences for participants in grades 9-12
  • Tails of Valor Paws of Honor Program, to support expansion of animal-assisted therapies for veterans in Berks County
  • Western Berks Free Medical Clinic, to assist in paying for the first prescription for individuals who cannot afford their medications
2016 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2016 LU grants were awarded to several organizations focusing on creative projects bringing people together to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. These grants centered on programs ranging from after-school and community library programming; adaptive playground equipment for youth with special needs; a support group for older adult LGBT individuals; volunteer-supported medical care and community beautification projects. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling $32,500 were awarded to:

  • Brandywine Heights Community Task Force
  • IM ABLE Foundation
  • LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  • New Journey Community Outreach
  • Oley Valley Community Library
  • RIZE
  • Western Berks Free Medical Clinic
  • West Reading Elm Street Program
2015 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2015 LIVE UNITED grants were awarded to several organizations with efforts focused on creative projects to bring people together to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. The organizations receiving these grants provide a broad range of programs, ranging from educational and literacy programming/training to supporting programs centered on veterans, community re-entry, a music-based program for autistic youth and a program geared toward Type 1 diabetics and families. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling over $26,300 were awarded to the following recipients:

  • American Legion Oley Valley Post 878
  • Berks County Justice System Employment Council
  • Berks T1D Connection
  • Many Rivers Learning Center
  • Unending Promise
  • Wood to Wonderful
2014 LIVE UNITED Grant Recipients

In 2014 LIVE UNITED Grants, were awarded to several organizations whose efforts focused on creative projects bringing people together to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents. The organizations receiving these grants provide a broad range of programs, ranging from educational programming/training to supporting nutrition-based programs, as well as supporting transitional housing programs and programs providing therapeutic services for those with physical, cognitive and/or emotional challenges. LIVE UNITED Grants totaling $25,250 were awarded to the following recipients:

  • Berks Agricultural Resource Network
  • Berks County Justice System Employment Council
  • Berks County Transition Coordinating Council
  • Mentors for Berks Youth
  • Rudden Family Foundation
  • Shady Hollow Assisted Riding
  • Teachers in the Park