READING, PA – A group of Berks County women has donated $35,660 to programs that aim to reduce teen pregnancy, increase leadership development in girls, and get victims of domestic violence back into the workforce.
Women who wanted to improve the lives of other local women and children started the Power of the Purse in Berks County Fund of Berks County Community Foundation in 2012, said Chiara Renninger, one of the group’s founders.
“Our donations are combined so we have a greater impact together than we would if we made the donations individually,” she said.
Each year, group members review grant applications, visit nonprofits, and vote to determine which programs will receive grants. Since the group began, it has awarded $180,903 in grants to local organizations.
Berks Teens Matter
Co-County Wellness Services was awarded $12,860 for its Berks Teens Matter Youth Ambassador program. Berks Teens Matter was started in 2014 to create and implement a plan to sustain programs and practices that reduce teen pregnancy, leading to improved educational outcomes and long-term well-being of families and communities in Berks County.
“Our Youth Ambassador program has become a significant part of our initiative to reduce teen pregnancy in Berks County by 40 percent by 2022,” said Dr. Jen May, program manager. “Berks Teens Matter is ecstatic and appreciative to have received Power of the Purse funding to continue this program into 2019.”
The ambassador program educates youth from Reading High School about teen birth rates and how they affect the community, effective methods of birth control and their availability, components of healthy relationships, and qualities of an effective youth leader. The ambassadors provide peer education to youth at Olivet Boys & Girls Club.
Berks Teens Matter has previously received almost $200,000 in grants from funds at the Community Foundation, including $18,000 from the Power of the Purse Fund.
VOiCEup Berks received $12,800 for its Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading In-School Leadership and Service Program. The program, which is part of the school day, provides weekly opportunities for middle school girls in Reading to be involved in service learning and leadership development. Service learning combines educational efforts with community service projects.
The program demonstrates to students their capacity to change their lives and their community through their choices and actions. Projects the program has previously completed include a school-wide anti-drug meme contest, a school-wide PSA on teen suicide, and “Bags of Hope” assembled for girls at a local shelter.
Safe Berks was awarded $10,000 for its Education, Empowerment, Employment! program.
The program provides survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault with financial assistance and support for education, transportation, child care, job searches and more.
For more information on Power of the Purse, including how to join or contribute, click here.