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FirstEnergy Foundation Awards $250,000 Grant to Alvernia University for Engineering Lab at new Downtown Reading Campus

Reading CollegeTowne brings student housing, classrooms and jobs to downtown


The FirstEnergy Foundation has donated $250,000 to Alvernia University to help fund its new engineering program at Reading CollegeTowne, a major economic development initiative to help revitalize the Penn Street corridor.


Through the grant, the FirstEnergy Foundation will become one of four founding members of the Alvernia University Engineering Program, which offers tracks in electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering. The grant will also help equip the new FirstEnergy Foundation Engineering Lab for students to design, develop and test electric motors, communication systems and power generation machinery.


Located in the service area of FirstEnergy’s Met-Ed utility, Reading CollegeTowne encompasses a renovated 260,000-square-foot building at 401 Penn Street that once housed an insurance company headquarters and a charter school. In addition to the engineering programs, the facility provides student housing, classrooms and a communal workspace for start-up businesses.


“We’re proud to join other community partners in supporting this transformational $20 million initiative that will allow 1,000 students to live and learn downtown,” said Lorna Wisham, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. “In addition to bringing more than 300 permanent jobs and resources downtown, Reading CollegeTowne will create a perpetual pipeline of college graduates with STEM-related skills to help meet the workforce needs of area businesses.”


Alvernia University recently received the first installment of $125,000 of the FirstEnergy Foundation grant, with the second $125,000 installment to be allocated later in 2022. The FirstEnergy Foundation Engineering Lab is expected to be completed in time for the 2022 fall semester.


“Partnerships have been and will continue to be the cornerstone of the CollegeTowne strategy, and we are deeply grateful for the FirstEnergy Foundation’s partnership,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “The Foundation’s support will develop the labs that train future engineers who will help to grow our businesses and the regional economy.”


Alvernia University is a Catholic comprehensive university with a liberal arts foundation founded by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in 1958. The university serves over 3,000 students in Reading, Pottsville and Philadelphia with a unique blend of rigorous liberal arts education, strong technical training in many high demand majors, ever-expanding experiential learning opportunities through study abroad and internship experiences and community engagement through its Franciscan-based community service model.


The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and provides support to non-profit, tax-exempt health and human services agencies; educational organizations; cultural and arts programs and institutions; and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy’s 10 electric operating companies and in areas where the company conducts business.


Met-Ed serves approximately 580,000 customers within 3,300 square miles of eastern and southeastern Pennsylvania. Follow Met-Ed on Twitter @Met Ed and on Facebook at


FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.