Strong & Healthy Families

Foundation’s new initiative assists Penn Manor students, families in need

Penn Manor Education Foundation has established a new initiative called “Strong & Healthy Families” that provides grants to assist community members facing financial, physical and emotional difficulties.

“Strong Grants” will support existing programs such as the Penn Manor Family Fund, Power Packs and Aevidum and new initiatives to help students pay academic fees for college admissions and testing and offset the cost of uniforms and supplies for Career specialized programs.

Grants also will support efforts to improve literacy, increase affordable housing options and provide mental health awareness and training.

The first grant, totaling, $5,000, provided uniforms and supplies for 21 Penn Manor High School students enrolled in Career & Technology Center programs. CTC materials can cost hundreds of dollars, and the expense was an obstacle for some Penn Manor families.

“This is the fourth year that the Penn Manor Family Fund has been providing financial assistance for students attending CTC programs, and each year, the number of students requesting assistance and the amount of assistance given has increased,” said Deb Meckley, a Penn Manor social worker who oversees the Family Fund.

Helping students obtain marketable skills through the CTC “is a very effective strategy in breaking the cycle of poverty for economically disadvantaged students,” Meckley said.

The Family Fund also assists students and families in other ways by providing gift cards for food and gas, rent assistance, heat and electricity assistance, credit recovery courses for high school students, graduation gowns and clothing.

The PMEF Strong & Healthy initiative was seeded with a $25,000 contribution from the Foundation and additional donations totaling $14,000.

The program is in response to the increasing needs of families in the Penn Manor community, where more than 40 percent of all students now qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

The PMEF board will review proposals submitted for Strong Grants and determine which projects receive funding. The board also will be able to respond to immediate needs that may arise in the community.

Penn Manor community members can support “Strong & Healthy Families” by contributing to the PMEF general fund.

We are proud to add this new initiative to Penn Manor Education Foundation.