50th Anniversary Spark Grants

Lehigh Valley Community Foundation...50 years of sparking community connections

The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation staff and Board of Governors is conducting a year of special grantmaking in celebration of our 50th anniversary!  The Community Foundation will grant $50,000 to each of six chosen issues in our community for a total of $300,000 in special grants during our anniversary year!   These grants will invite community members to be the spark - a spark of awareness, a spark of change, a spark of connection.

The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation is bringing awareness to the following six issues through our anniversary celebration. 

Be the SparkThe celebration will Include grants of $50,000
per issue that will be awarded in the
specified months below:



Help us give more to support organizations working hard to improve the quality of life in the Lehigh Valley and raise awareness for these important issues by making a tax-deductible gift with our PayPal account. LVCF donor-advised funds can provide support with a simple email request.

Mental & Behavioral Health (February 2017)

Learn more about the issue and the grant recipients, including an opportunity to continue to support these programs!

Congratulations to our Mental and Behavioral Health Spark Grant Recipients:

WLVT-TV PBS39: $25,000 for the Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corp.'s production of "Close to Home: Depression."

Haven House: $10,000 to aid The Support Group for Family & Friends of Incarcerated or Released Prisoners with Mental Illness.

Equi-librium: $7,500 to launch A New Path, therapy program in the form of time spent with horses.

Communities In Schools Lehigh Valley: $5,000 for an initiative to raise awareness of suicide prevention, healthy relationships and eliminating drug and alcohol abuse.

Treatment Trends, Inc.: $2,500 for Rally in the Valley: Caring Across Communities at Cedar Crest College.

See the videos from the five finalists, the event, and more...

Cultural Enrichment (April 2017)

Learn more about the issue and the grant recipients, including an opportunity to continue to support these programs!

Mikayla's Voice received $15,000 for their "Our Friend Brady" program. Mikayla’s Voice inspires kids of all abilities to share the message of inclusion. The grant will enable the organization to produce a book on what it is like to be friends with someone with a disability (no big deal!) and serve as a springboard for further discussion. Brady, a student at Spring Garden Elementary School, and his friends will tell their story of friendship. The book will be printed and donated to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms in Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

State Theatre Center for the Arts, Inc., received $12,500 for their Spark the Arts initiative. The grant will underwrite the cost of tickets for select FREDDY student populations (and other students) as well for local veterans to certain Broadway and other performances at the State Theatre during the 2017-2018 show season.

Three organizations received grants of $7,500 each to kick-start or enhance programs:

ArtsQuest, Inc.’s ArtSparks project will support new initiatives that highlight the rich and diverse cultures that make up the Greater Lehigh Valley through the presentation of arts and culture programs at SteelStacks and the Banana Factory.  

The National Museum of Industrial History will embark on The Cabinet of Curiosity, an interactive exhibit in the Museum's Iron & Steel Gallery focusing on the individuals, families and communities drawn to South Bethlehem to work at the Bethlehem Steel plant from fifty foreign countries. 

A grant to Performing Arts Live., Inc. will help support the 2017 edition of Allentown JazzFest that will take place from May 3 through May 7, 2017.

See the videos from the five finalists and more...  The Spark Sponsor for Cultural Enrichment is Crayola.

Food & Housing Access (May 2017)

Learn more about the issue and the grant recipients, including an opportunity to continue to support these programs!

Congratulations to our Food and Housing Access Grant Recipients

New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem received $25,000 to renovate a two-story garage into a food pantry to expand its facility, which provides food and other services to the needy in the Lehigh Valley.

The School Sisters of Saint Francis in Bethlehem received $10,000 toward expanding its goals of feeding the hungry, caring for the Earth and building health communities.

Nurture Nature Center in Easton received $10,000 to expand a SNAP —supplemental nutrition assistance program — that would make fresh produce and healthy foods available to customers using food stamps.

Valley Youth House Committee, Inc. in Allentown received $2,500 to expand its inclusive housing for homeless LGBTQ teenagers in the Lehigh Valley.

Pinebrook Family Answers received $2,500 to fund its transitional residence program, which provides homeless women, often single mothers, in Allentown with an affordable and safe place to live.

See the videos from the five finalists, the event, and more... 

Environment & Sustainability (July 2017)

Congratulations to the Environment and Sustainability Spark Grant Recipients

Community Bike Works Bike to Sustainability program was fully funded at $18,000.  The youth of Community Bike Works recycle hundreds of bicycles a year, working with mentors to refurbish donated bikes they can ride across the city. The grant will enable Bike to Sustainability project to work with students to build a stronger culture of sustainability, serving more students in the Earn a Bike program, and offer those students more meaningful experiences in nature, including the opportunity to create and maintain a bike trail. Finally, students will travel to Washington to attend the Youth Bike Summit and will help develop a sustainability plan for the organization.

Greater Easton Development Partnership was awarded $10,000 for their Easton Compost Project which will serve as a pilot to provide food waste education and a composting option at the Easton Farmers' Market for market vendors and also for a pilot group of local residents. Project data, experiences, and costs will be collected and shared afterwards.

Bethlehem Economic Development Corporation also received a $10,000 grant for Reimagining the Bethlehem Rose Garden. The grant will be used to engage a landscape architecture firm to develop a revised plan for the park, creating a map and inventory of structures and trees, noting species and condition. The new plan will add signage and walking/cycling paths. Native gardens, and understory and specimen trees will be planted, and bike racks sited.

Wildlands Conservancy was awarded a $7,000 grant for their Collaborative Watershed Education Program. Wildlands Conservancy and Lehigh Gap Nature Center will collaborate to provide multiple watershed education experiences for students from low-income neighborhoods in the Lehigh Valley.

The Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley received a $5,000 grant for their Youth Watershed Steward Program that creates school-district based, county-level coordinated 'stream team,' reaching youth where they live and go to school in learning and hands-on projects that relate to environmental assets and challenges in their communities.

See the videos from the five finalists, the event and more. The Spark Sponsor for Environment & Sustainably is Alvin H. Butz, Inc. 

Human Trafficking (September 2017)

Congratulations to our Human Trafficking Spark Grant Recipients

Truth for Women, Inc. was awarded $20,000 for its Truth Home Program, which offers a safe place family setting for women, in an intensive therapeutic environment. The program deals with the serious issues survivors of sex trafficking face in a holistic way, focusing on the entire person—body, soul, and spirit. The home offers the opportunity for an individualized recovery plan through mentoring, counseling, coaching, life skills, education, family therapy, and spiritual encouragement.

Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley was awarded $12,500 for the 2018 Lehigh Valley Human Trafficking Conference:  Hiding in Plain Sight, which would be the first conference that brings together multiple disciplines from across the entire Lehigh Valley to address, identify and prevent human trafficking crimes.

Valley Against Sex Trafficking was awarded $12,500 for its VAST Survivor Community Center, a survivor-driven idea with the purpose to both house VAST headquarters and provide community-based, peer-led support to survivors of human trafficking.

KidsPeace was awarded $5,000 for its Enhanced Clinical Trauma and Life Skills Program for female adolescent victims of trafficking and trauma. The program addresses the mental health needs of victims of commercial sex exploitation and provides both trauma-informed care and the development of life skills.

See the videos from the four finalists, the event and more. The Spark Partner for Human Tracking is Women United of the Greater Lehigh Valley United Way

Veterans Affairs (November 2017)

Congratulations to our Spark Grant recipients for Veterans Affairs

Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley was awarded a $25,000 Spark Grant for the Military Share: Food Access for Veterans, a new program that will address the food insecurity needs of veterans to promote health and financial stability. Through partnerships with three local veterans’ organizations, Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB) will provide 150 veterans with a monthly box of food that includes 30 pounds of vegetables, fruit, meat, and grains. Veterans will volunteer for this program by packing boxes as a team at the SHFB warehouse and directly distributing the boxes to veterans.

Lehigh Valley Health Network was awarded $12,500 for its Military and Veteran Resource/Information Center. The center, now renovated in in the former School of Nursing building at 1628 Chew Street has been established meet a three-fold mission:  provide military and veterans with services that improve (1) medical care eligibility and enrollment; (2) access to care at locations of the patient’s choosing; and (3) navigation across complex government and private sector systems.

Victory House of Lehigh Valley was awarded a 5,000 Spark Grant for their Veteran Aftercare Services Program which provides medical and case management services, including mental health and substance abuse counseling, to homeless veterans who have successfully discharged to self-sufficiency.

Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council was awarded $5,000 for the LVMAC Veterans Homelessness Programs which provide financial assistance for transitional shelter and traditional outreach programs that support the recovery of homeless veterans. It also helps to coordinate the various services available through local and government agencies.

Equi-librium was awarded $2,500 for the Horsemanship for Heroes program that is a therapeutic riding/driving program where horsemanship skills are taught to meet the physical, mental or emotional needs of service men and women who suffer from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury or other combat-related injuries.

See the videos from the five finalists, the event and more. Thank you to Embassy Bank For the Lehigh Valley for being our Spark Sponsor for Veterans Affairs.

Special thanks to our 50th Anniversary Advisory Board

for helping us make our anniversary celebration a true spark of excitement:

  • Michael Stershic, LVCF Board Chair, Discover Lehigh Valley
  • Thomas Campbell, DeSales University
  • Cynthia Lambert Durham, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network
  • W. Beall Fowler, Lehigh University, Emeritus
  • Judianne Harris, Valley National Group
  • Carol Henn, Community Volunteer
  • Kari Keyock, Imagevolution
  • L. Charles Marcon, Duggan & Marcon
  • Robert Moffett, Attorney at Law
  • Martha Phelps, Community Volunteer
  • Elaynee Polentes, Imagevolution
  • Ann Haggerty Raines, Northampton Community College 
  • Bernie Story, LVCF President & CEO
  • Trisha Higgins, LVCF Vice President & CFO
  • Erika Riddle Petrozelli, LVCF Director of Donor Services
  • Michael Wilson, LVCF Director of Communications


"From a little spark may burst a flame" ~ Dante