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Community Foundation Announces Cultural Enrichment Spark Grants

Allentown, Pa., April 26, 2017— The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) announced the recipients of $50,000 in Spark Grants for Cultural Enrichment. The announcement came at the Foundation’s program, “The Role of the Arts in Economic Development,” presented by Roland Kushner, associate professor of business, Muhlenberg College; and Jeffrey A. Parks, chair, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, at the Hotel Bethlehem on April 25. The Spark Grants are part of the Community Foundation's 50th-anniversary celebration.

Cultural enrichment is the second of six issues the Community Foundation is addressing during its anniversary year by providing funds to local nonprofit organizations.  The Community Foundation will issue grants totaling $300,000 during 2017. The issues include: mental and behavioral health, cultural enrichment, food and housing, environment and sustainability, human trafficking, and veterans affairs.

The top grant recipient was Mikayla's Voice which received $15,000 for their "Our Friend Brady" program. An acronym for the Voice Of Inclusion for Children Everywhere, 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 stories of friendship. The book will be printed and donated to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms in Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

Other organizations receiving Spark Grants included the State Theatre Center for the Arts, Inc. which 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.

A Spark Grant review team comprised of LVCF staff, board members, and volunteers evaluated the proposals and selected five for phase two of the application process. The five finalists each produced a one-minute video describing their program that was shared on social media to increase awareness and encourage community participation. The campaign generated over 38,000 views, it was shared 375 times, and it resulted in more than 20,500 votes.

“This year we are challenging organizations to ‘be the spark’ for change in the community—and they are responding,” said Bernie Story, president and CEO of the LVCF. “We were pleased with the number and quality of the applications we received from the community. Clearly, there are many more cultural enrichment programs that could benefit from additional support beyond what we can direct through our Spark Grants. Each organization that receives this grant will utilize the funds to support a project that is dedicated to sparking change, awareness, and connection. Learn more about cultural enrichment in the Lehigh Valley and support the cause on the LVCF website:

Inspiring artistic creativity in children for more than 100 years—Crayola was the Spark Sponsor for LVCF's Cultural Enrichment event. Discover a world of creativity at

See the Photo Gallery from the Event on the LVCF Flickr Page

LVCF Cultural Enrichment Program


About the Community Foundation

The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation traces its roots to 1967 when community leaders in Bethlehem established an endowment with the $50,000 that remained after Bethlehem’s celebration of its 225th anniversary of its founding.

For nearly five decades, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation has helped donors with their charitable contributions with a simple, powerful, and highly personalized approach. LVCF is a philanthropic hub for the Lehigh Valley—who knows and navigates the landscape of the Lehigh Valley’s community needs to connect people who care to causes that matter. It is our mission to improve the quality of life in our region, to encourage collaboration among area philanthropists, and to serve as a source of information and expertise regarding charitable giving.

With a diverse and respected Board of Governors, the Community Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization located in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  The Foundation is cause-neutral and supports all areas of community needs in the Lehigh Valley and beyond in compliance with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. To learn more, visit: