Elementary schools across Berks County are receiving extra support from United Way COVID-19 Education Response Grants. Twenty-six schools representing 12 local school districts have been awarded grants to help students, teachers and families face a variety of challenges as the new school year launches during the pandemic. The grants awarded total nearly $95,800.

United Way’s Ready.Set.READ! initiative, focused on improving early grade reading proficiency, announced the grant opportunity in July. Each elementary school could request up to $5,000 to support programming to mitigate learning loss and /or help students cope with the emotional and social trauma.

“These are trying times for students and schools. The unusual circumstances are requiring new methods of learning and supporting students” said Tammy White, President of United Way of Berks County.

“The grants will support schools and reconnect and support their students, as well as implement supplemental literacy programs to overcome learning loss and boost academic success. The grant pool was supported anonymously by a local foundation, combined with funds from the Berks COVID-19 Response Fund.”

Examples of programs supported by the grants include implementing supplemental literacy programs, developing digital learning strategies, creating trauma sensitive classrooms, supporting professional development training for teachers on the social nature of virtual learning and supporting materials for home libraries and family resources.

The grant recipients include elementary schools in the Boyertown, Brandywine Heights, Conrad Weiser, Fleetwood, Governor Mifflin, Kutztown Area, Muhlenberg Area, Oley Valley, Reading, Schuylkill Valley, Tulpehocken Area and Wyomissing Area school districts.

Grant applications were reviewed by a panel of community volunteers with experience in the educational sector and represented United Way and Ready.Set.READ! board members. All grants were approved by United Way of Berks County’s Executive Committee.