Penn State Berks to receive funding for entrepreneurship in the City of Reading


Penn State Berks was represented at the Capitol Rotunda by (left to right) Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk, Dr. Janelle Larson, James Shankweiler, sophomore Jillian Morello, Walt Fullam, and Dr. Paul Esqueda.

Credit: Lisa Baldi

Reading, PA — Penn State Berks is the recipient of a $50,000 seed grant to expand entrepreneurial endeavors through the Invent Penn State initiative. Berks is one of six campuses recently named as part of the newest wave of entrepreneurial sites across the Commonwealth that are poised to enhance economic strengths for their region.

"Penn State Berks, in cooperation with Penn State Health St. Joseph, is committed to building a partnership where our faculty and students will work with Penn State Health St. Joseph's physicians and staff to support community-based health and initiatives," states Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk.

Invent Penn State is a Commonwealth-wide initiative that blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding, and key regional partnerships together for the benefit of Pennsylvania and beyond. These six new awards follow on the heels of six similar $50,000 grants awarded to Penn State campuses in 2015.

The seed grant will be used to enhance community and industry relationships and utilizing social entrepreneurship to accelerate business development in nutrition, health and medical sectors, as well as to provide resources that encourage entrepreneurship among minority populations.

"Together, in partnership with Penn State Health St. Joseph, we will be working to identify opportunities to foster entrepreneurship through existing college programs such as the Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Center; the Center for Service Learning and Community-Based Research; and the Learning Factory at Penn State Berks," Hillkirk explains.

"The process for awarding these six additional grants was very competitive," said Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses. "I congratulate the recipients who share a deep commitment to the economic well-being of their communities. They are connecting the talent of Penn State faculty and students with community partners to bring innovation and entrepreneurial activity to the regions we serve. The Invent Penn State initiative is a powerful driver of economic development."

Other campuses in addition to Berks that are receiving funding in this latest round include: Altoona, Great Valley, Schuylkill, Shenango and York.

Prior to this round of funding the Penn State campuses of Abington, Behrend, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley and New Kensington received seed-grant awards for collaborative economic ventures on their campuses and within their communities.

"As the largest primary care provider in Downtown Reading, we ensure residents have access to healthcare, especially those residents with chronic illness. With Penn State Berks as an ?on the ground? partner, and now with the further support of this grant, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the social, cultural and economic barriers to improving the physical and mental health of this urban community," states John R. Morahan, President and CEO, Penn State Health St. Joseph.

For more information on Invent Penn State, visit