York nonprofits receive Racial Equity grants

More than $69,000 in grants have been provided to eight local nonprofit organizations by the Racial Equity Fund (REF) Grant Program of York County Community Foundation (YCCF). The REF is made up of community leaders of color who choose projects that focus on issues of racism and integrity, addressing “shifting the paradigm of equitable opportunities.” 

Grants of up to $10,000 each for projects that address equity gaps for communities of color are awarded by the REF in the following areas: 

  • Education and job readiness 
  • Criminal justice system 
  • Community leadership and development 
  • Income and wealth creation within communities of color 
  • Racial and cultural education 
  • Health and wellness within communities of color 

“The REF is pleased to have completed its second round of grant funding for 2022,” Lisa Kennedy, Chair of the Racial Equity Fund, said in a statement. “We continue to encourage potential applicants to reach out to us with any questions about the work we do to advance racial equity within our community.” 

The REF was created in 2020 by the YCCF to establish a dedicated grant program to support meaningful, positive action towards addressing racial inequities in the York community. To establish an endowment to ensure meaningful grants are distributed every year, additional contributions are being sought. 

The following programs received grants to address iniquities in York County: 

  • Appell Center for the Performing Arts for its Culturally Responsive and Teen Empowered Creative Career Programs that prioritize culturally responsive pedagogy, youth empowerment and pipelines into the performing arts. 


  • Handle with Care Project UPLIFT US Project to unpack issues related to interactions between police and racially diverse community members with disabilities through a series of interactive presentations and dialogue circles. 


  • Junior Achievement (JA) of South-Central PA for its Empowering Equitable Tomorrows in the School District of the City of York Program. JA is working with York City School District to increase its students’ participation in JA’s programs to more equitable levels as other York County students. 


  • Shiloh Baptist Church for The Impact Project (TIP) – an education/job preparedness project that seeks to address equity gaps and racial disparities within communities of color through job training, career preparedness, and income equity. 


  • York College of Pennsylvania for its Race, Mentorship and Career DEI Readiness Program to provide mentors for women of color and career DEI readiness for its BIPOC students. 


  • York County History Center to support the Community Historian for Diversity and Inclusion Position. With YCCF’s support, the York County History Center will be able to offer a Full-time Community Historian Position for Diversity and Inclusion. 


  • YWCA York Leadership for its Youth Summit Expansion Program. The Leadership Summit engages high school students in dialogue around racism and provides activities for continued growth and education throughout the year. 


  • YWCA York for its Voice/Vision/Value – An Advocacy Workshop Series for Teens. This series focuses engaging teens in harnessing their talents to drive equity and build a stronger York. It incorporates the Voice/Vision/Value message through sessions on advocacy through art, music, poetry, civic engagement, and podcasting. 

Four grants were awarded to help nonprofit organizations build their diversity, equity, and inclusion capacity through training. Half the cost for these DEI-related trainings will be covered by the YCCF, the other half by the organizations. The organizations include the following: 

  • Children’s Aid Society SOPA COB 
  • LifePath Christian Ministries 
  • MidPenn Legal Services 
  • PennCares Support Services 

“Strengthening the cultural competence of the nonprofit sector by investing in the leadership, boards, and staff will enable them to become vocal advocates for the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. It is important to work together to affect positive change,” said Adrian N. Buckner, vice president of grants and community engagement and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at YCCF. 

Nonprofits seeking to qualify for a grant must be working directly with people of color, with a preference for projects that are led by people of color. 

Cicero named executive director of PLAN

Patrick M. Cicero. (Photo: Submitted)

Attorney Patrick M. Cicero has been appointed as the new executive director for the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN), taking the helm as the organization’s seventh leader.

Cicero will succeed longtime executive director Sam Milkes, who has held that position since 2001 and will officially step down on March 31.

Attorney Jay Alberstadt, president of PLAN’s board of directors, led a nationwide search for the new leader of the Harrisburg-based nonprofit, deciding to go with someone who already had ties to the organization.

“We are very pleased with the results of this search and look forward to Patrick’s leadership for years to come,” Alberstadt said.

Before accepting his new role, Cicero served as the executive director of the Harrsburg-based Pennsylvania Utility Law Project, a statewide legal aid program that is part of PLAN’s network. He also served as a clerk for the Hon. Sylvia Rambo of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and a staff attorney with MidPenn Legal Services, the Harrisburg-based civil legal aid organization serving residents in 18 counties.

“I believe that Pennsylvania has some of the strongest legal aid programs in the country,” Cicero said. “We have reliable funders, excellent project directors and staff, strong public support, and robust client participation.”

PLAN is a statewide consortium of independent legal aid programs providing civil legal services to low-income individuals and families. Last year more than 73,000 individuals and families in Pennsylvania were helped by the organization.