Investing in programs that improve the overall health and wellness of the community
The Berwick Health & Wellness Fund (BHWF) is the largest charitable fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. BHWF is in its 16th year of grant making in the greater Berwick area – having distributed over $18 million of funding to local charitable organizations for capital, program and operating needs. Together with local government, other grant makers, local businesses, organizations and individual citizens, we are rebuilding the infrastructure of Berwick and surrounding areas. The Berwick Health & Wellness Fund continues to make investments in Berwick’s health to improve the quality of life here for all of its residents.
The fund, valued at approximately $30 million, was created through the sale of the Berwick Hospital in 1999 from nonprofit to for-profit ownership. The Foundation seeks to enrich the lives of the residents of the hospital’s service area by using the investments from the BHWF to promote individual and community health and well-being.
The mission of the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund is to select, identify, and invest in programs and projects that improve the health and welfare of the community. The terms “health” and “wellness” are interpreted in a broad sense to include a wide variety of efforts that have an impact on the community’s overall well-being.
BHWF Service Area
The geographic boundaries of the BHWF encompass 8 boroughs and 15 townships in eastern Columbia County and lower/western Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania. Home to approximately 55,000 residents, this region is a historic intersection of once thriving iron manufacturing, anthracite coal mining, railways and canals. The diverse terrain is bisected by the north branch of the Susquehanna River and includes small cities, rural villages, new residential communities, farmlands and forest.
The 23 locales eligible to receive BHWF grants are:
- Columbia County Boroughs: Berwick Borough*, Benton Borough, Briar Creek Borough, Stillwater Borough
- Columbia County Townships: Benton Township, Briar Creek Township, Fishing Creek Township, Mifflin Township, North Centre Township, South Centre Township
- Luzerne County Boroughs: Berwick Borough*, Conyngham Borough, Nescopeck Borough, New Columbus Borough, Shickshinny Borough
- Luzerne County Townships: Butler Township, Conyngham Township, Hollenback Township, Hunlock Township, Huntington Township, Nescopeck Township, Salem Township, Sugarloaf Township, Union Township
Grant Making Approach
In general, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation favors preventive approaches and collaborative endeavors that enhance community health and wellness. Proposals receiving the most favorable review show evidence of:
- A solid understanding of community needs, current research in the field and best practices in service delivery
- A clear connection between the organization’s mission and the project for which funds are requested
- Achievable outcomes and a practical plan for reaching them
- A plan to measure and validate impact of the project
- Staff and/or volunteers who will be able to undertake the project successfully
- An ability to leverage or match grant dollars from other sources
- A plan to sustain the project beyond the grant period.
Priority Areas of Interest
The Foundation board invests in programs and projects that promote overall health and wellness within the geographic boundaries of the BHWF. In the grant review process, priority is given to proposals that respond to one or more of the areas of need identified by a community assessment process:
- Ensuring that children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school.
- Promoting oral health for residents who lack access to regular dental care.
- Reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease through nutrition, physical activity and tobacco-free lifestyles.
- Improving mental and behavioral health through community awareness, support and treatment.
Types of Grant Information
- Types of Grants: The Foundation invites requests for program support and for capital projects that include equipment and facilities. On rare occasion, the Foundation may consider requests for general operating expenses.
- Duration of Grants: The Foundation typically awards one-year grants. In certain cases, grants may be renewable for additional years. It is not the intention of the Foundation to establish permanent or dependent relationships with grantees.
- Size of Grants: Grant size varies according to the type of project, the needs of the organization and the target population. Last year, 53% of our competitive grants were less than $5,000/grant; 34% of our grants were $10,000 or above; and 13% of our grants were between $5,000 and $9,999.
- Limitations: In order to be eligible to receive a grant from the Foundation, an organization must hold 501(c)(3) nonprofit status or be a governmental organization. All grants must benefit the residents and communities within the defined geographic boundaries. The Foundation does not award grants to individuals or to projects that serve an exclusively religious purpose.
Berwick Health and Wellness Fund Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee is charged with evaluating grant applications from the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund service area for competitive and strategic initiatives. The committee monitors community strengths and needs, conducts interviews with applicants and makes site visits as needed to verify progress.
Committee Members include JoAnn Ferentz (Chair), Athena Aardweg, Jeff Cerminaro, Mike Goresh, Lance Kittelson, Diane Ljungquist, Greg Martz, Randy Peters, and Ken Strish.