KUTZTOWN, Pa. - A local nonprofit agency has received donations and a state grant to help provide mental and behavioral health resources to students in a rural part of Berks County.

"This is what's important here, and this is a community that's dealing with it," said Pennsylvania Sen. Judy Schwank, a Berks County Democrat.

Schwank praised the efforts of Kutztown Strong and the many other partners of the nonprofit that are working to help young people steer away from substance use and abuse by making sure mental and behavioral health resources are available.

"Kutztown Strong has received [a] $45,000 state Department of Education grant to support a new program, Stronger Together," said Schwank.

The Stronger Together program will work to reduce youth depression, help students meet and exceed academic goals and help parents access and pay for mental and behavioral health services in the Kutztown, Fleetwood and Brandywine Heights area school districts.

Berks County District Attorney John Adams contributed $20,000 from his office's drug forfeiture fund to the program.

"There's no better use of our drug forfeiture funds than to use them to combat and prevent addiction and prevent misuse of controlled substances," Adams said.

Everyone involved in the effort said it was a largely collaborative initiative that wouldn't have been possible without community support.

"It took a lot of courage, tenacity and teamwork to bring this project to fruition," said Merry Schlegel, the president of Kutztown Strong.

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