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Berks County Community Foundation’s healthcare fund awards $78,930 in grants

READING, PA – Programs to reduce teen pregnancy, train healthcare workers, and teach urban youth to grow and prepare healthy foods are among those receiving grants from the Community General Hospital Healthcare Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

The Community General Hospital Healthcare Fund Advisory Committee recently awarded a total of $78,930 in grants to six programs.

The largest grant of $41,930 was awarded to Co-County Wellness Services to support the Berks Teens Matter (BTM) initiative through an enhanced social media effort.

BTM was established in 2014 with a goal of reducing teen births in Berks County by 40 percent by 2022. BTM is at a critical state, poised to implement a multitude of activities to decrease teen births in Berks County, but ill-equipped to meet the ever-changing social media needs of a successful initiative, said Jen May, project manager at BTM.

“With Community Foundation funding, BTM intends to implement a full-scale social media campaign aimed at educating the county of Berks about the implications teen births pose for the whole community and about tools for preventing future teen births,” May said.

Teen births often lead to future hardships, from poor educational outcomes and lower lifetime workplace compensation for mothers to increased chances of teen pregnancy and incarceration for children born to teen moms, May said.

Previous grants provided to the initiative by the Community Foundation include $120,379 over two years to hire a program manager and $18,000 from the Power of the Purse in Berks County Fund to support the program. Berks Teens Matter is also supported by 28 other organizations, including United Way of Berks County and the Wyomissing Foundation.

Other grants announced today from the Community Foundation’s Community General Hospital Healthcare Fund:

$10,000 to the Literacy Council of Reading-Berks to support the Community Health Worker/Workforce Development Bridge Training Program, which will recruit people age 18 to 24 for training to help them pursue a career in healthcare or social services.$9,000 to Reading Recreation Commission to support the Seeds to Sprouts Urban Cooking Program. The program will work with city youth to help them grow and cultivate healthy food and then use that food to prepare nutritional meals.$8,000 to Alvernia University to support the 4-day summer enrichment program for its SUCCESS Project, which provides supplemental instruction for nursing students. The summer program will recruit a minimum of 40 incoming freshman for the fall 2017 semester to focus on bridging the skills gap between high school graduation requirements and college entry expectations. Topics and student experiences will range from chemistry concepts to study strategies.$5,000 to the Miller-Keystone Blood Center to support the My Blood, Your Blood program, which is an educational initiative that teaches elementary, middle and high school students about the importance of blood while also working to create a sustainable pool of young blood donors.$5,000 to Berks Counseling Center to provide Trauma Informed Care training to medical and support staff and health worker trainees at the Penn State Health St. Joseph Downtown Campus and at Opportunity House. The personnel at those locations provide care to people who have experienced the adverse effects of traumatic life experiences.