You are here

Community Foundation Awards $50,000 Spark Grant Igniting Change in the Lehigh Valley

Allentown, Pa., February 24, 2017— The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) announced the recipients of $50,000 in Spark Grant funding to combat mental and behavioral health issues in the Lehigh Valley area. The Spark Grants are part of the Community Foundations 50th-anniversary celebration.

Mental and behavioral health is the first 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 other issues include: cultural enrichment, food and housing, environment and sustainability, human trafficking, and veterans affairs.

“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 mental and behavioral health 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.”

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. They included Equi-librium, PBS39, Communities in Schools Lehigh Valley, Haven House, and Treatment Trends.

“When we first conceptualized the video phase of Spark Grant application process…we had a clear goal in mind, raise awareness of the issues, maximize exposure of the organizations and their programs, and engage the community in the Spark Grant process,” said Erika Riddle Petrozelli, director of donor services at LVCF. “And while the video phase is only one small part of the evaluation process, we viewed the campaign as an opportunity for organizations to be creative and tell their story, and to have fun doing so.”

The “Be the Spark” video voting campaign was posted on the Community Foundation’s website and Facebook Page.  The finalists were encouraged to mobilize their constituents to generate support. “We were a bit surprised by the overwhelming response,” said Michael Wilson, LVCF director of communications. “The campaign generated over 17,000 views, it was shared 150 times, and it resulted in more than 12,000 votes. That’s a lot of cross-pollination for the five organizations and their programs, at the same time building awareness for the issue.”

The Spark Grant recipients for mental and behavioral health are:

WLVT-TV Channel 39

The Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation, WLVT-TV Channel 39, was awarded $25,000 in support of the production of Close to Home: Depression. PBS39 will produce a television program that focuses on depression. The show will part of a series that will explore four health topics that have been identified as a problem in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.  Each episode will take an in-depth look at the issue and share success stories from individuals. The overarching goal is to instill hope in people who suffer from depression and educate the community on where to seek help for themselves and others. The organizers will be dedicating a page on their website to promote the series and aid in reaching a broad audience to raise awareness. 

Haven House

Haven House was granted $10,000 to aid in their project, The Support Group for Family & Friends of Incarcerated or Released Prisoners with Mental Illness.  Many families in the region suffer trauma, fear, and loss when someone they love is mentally ill. This initiative plans to offer free adult and adolescent support groups hosted by therapists to aid families in coping with the effects of mental illness. The organization has been working collaboratively with the criminal justice system and human services.


Equi-librium will be launching the project A New Path with the $7,500 that they receive from LVCF. Working with mental health professionals and abuse counselors, the program director and PATH-certified instructors will offer a program utilizing groundwork, grooming, riding, and spending time with horses to help re-center victims lives, offer comfort, and give purpose.

Communities In Schools Lehigh Valley

Communities in Schools - Lehigh Valley was granted $5,000 to fund an initiative to raise awareness of suicide prevention, healthy relationships and eliminating drug and alcohol abuse. With the project, Student Voice, CIS intends to reach middle and high school students by creating videos and posters to inspire them to become leaders and advocate for change.

Treatment Trends, Inc.

Treatment Trends, Inc. will receive $2,500 to support the project, Rally in the Valley: Caring Across Communities. This program will unite the community for a festival in the Spring of 2017 at Cedar Crest College to address the problem of addiction and promote recovery. The event is being organized by a collaboration of addiction treatment agencies, recovery organizations, and individuals in personal recovery. It will offer an educational and recreational atmosphere, hosting speakers and musical entertainment for families and friends affected by addiction.

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:


LVCF's Bernie Story with Tim Fallon, PBS 39 LVCF's Bernie Story with Equi-liqum's Cheryl Baker
Bernie Story with Communities in Schools Lehigh Valley LVCF's Bernie Story with Jessica Katzbeck and Lorie Richardson from Haven House

LVCF's Bernie Story with the gang from Treatment Trends



Below is a photo gallery of the program featuring State Representative Michael Schlossberg at which the mental and behavioral health Spark Grants were announced.

Mike Schlossberg Talk on Mental Health | Spark Grants Annoucement