Sophomores from any school in the Berkshires, and equivalent-aged home-schooled students, may submit an application for 1Berkshires' Youth Leadership Program through February 11. Photo of 2019 BYLP cohort courtesy 1Berkshire

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Youth Leadership Program applications open; Lee Bank announces grantees; MountainOne acquires Cross Insurance; Jewish Federation adds Meador

MountainOne Insurance Agency has acquired Cross Insurance in Pittsfield, making MountainOne the largest agency headquartered in the Berkshires in terms of clients under management.

1Berkshire’s Youth Leadership Class of 2022-23 applications open

PITTSFIELD — 1Berkshire’s Berkshire Youth Leadership Program has relaunched and is accepting applications for the YLP class of 2022-23.

The 1Berkshire Youth Leadership Program, open to all current sophomores in the Berkshires, selects a cohort of up to 30 motivated students from all backgrounds for a 10-month experience that will allow them to explore the regional economy and develop their leadership skills. Once selected, students will begin the program with a 3-day, 3-night retreat from June 9–12 at the conclusion of their sophomore year. At the retreat, students will meet for the first time, begin to build connections, and learn about and advance their individual leadership skills.

During the following 10 months, students will reconvene for one full day each month at various locations across the Berkshires (or virtually, in the case of severe weather conditions). During these sessions, students will meet with business leaders and community members to learn about sectors and careers in the regional economy, including but not limited to advanced manufacturing, healthcare, nonprofits and community service, the creative economy, and hospitality and tourism. Students will develop leadership traits through activities within the sessions, and as a class will develop and execute a collective community impact project that will enhance life in the Berkshires.

This program is made possible through the ongoing financial support of Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and others. The 1Berkshire Youth Leadership Program is coordinated by 1Berkshire with the support of the volunteer Youth Leadership Program Steering Committee, composed of professionals from across the region who commit their time and expertise to develop and facilitate the entire program.

Until the February 11th deadline, sophomores from any school in the Berkshires, and equivalent-aged home-schooled students, may submit an application for the program.


 *     *     *

Lee Bank Foundation announces 4th-quarter community funding

LEE Lee Bank Foundation has awarded $68,560 to 12 Berkshire area organizations in its 4th round of 2021 community grant awards. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000–$20,000 to support their local programming. Included in the awards are a series of Arts Access Grants for arts and culture organizations to expand access to programming for underserved audiences.

The following organizations received funding from Lee Bank Foundation:

  • 18 Degrees
  • Barrington Stage Company
  • Berkshire Busk!
  • Berkshire Community Action Council
  • Berkshire Immigrant Center
  • IS183 Art School
  • Latinas413
  • Literacy Network of South Berkshire
  • Mass MoCA
  • NAACP Berkshire County Branch
  • Railroad Street Youth Project
  • Youth Education and Sport (YES) Initiative

Arts Access Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to Berkshire Busk! and IS183 Art School.

In its first year, the Lee Bank Foundation received more than 90 grant applications for its four rounds of funding. The deadline for the first round of 2022 Foundation funding is March 1. The application and more information can be found on the Community Impact section of Lee Bank’s website.

To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Foundation is focused on funding programs that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in our region. Funding requests should reflect one or more of the Foundation’s primary focus areas:

  • Education and literacy
  • Food security and nutrition
  • Economic growth and development
  • Health and human services
  • Mentorship, internship and “school to work” initiatives
  • Arts and culture

Applicants may submit only one application in a 12-month period.


 *     *     *

MountainOne announces acquisition of Cross Insurance in Pittsfield

Photo courtesy MountainOne

PITTSFIELDMountainOne Insurance Agency recently announced it has acquired Cross Insurance in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This acquisition effectively makes MountainOne Insurance the largest agency headquartered in the Berkshires in terms of clients under management. MountainOne plans to retain the entire Cross Insurance team, which will grow the combined agency to 50 employees across six locations throughout Berkshire County.

“The acquisition of Cross Insurance furthers MountainOne’s commitment to the communities we serve,” said Jonathan Denmark, MountainOne Insurance Agency president and COO. “The combined agency will now be able to offer products and solutions from an expanded roster of insurance companies.”

Cross Insurance was formed in 2016 when Cross purchased Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam Insurance Agency and Colt Insurance Agency, both located in Pittsfield. “While the name will change to MountainOne Insurance, the location will remain at 101 South Street in Pittsfield. We are thrilled to be expanding our presence into downtown Pittsfield and will carry on the traditions of excellence that Cross and the prior agencies were known for,” said Denmark.

MountainOne has helped customers navigate the landscape of banking, insurance, and investments for almost two centuries. It has deep roots in Berkshire County with MountainOne Insurance dating back to 1867, and MountainOne Bank to 1848.  For generations, MountainOne and the original companies that comprise the modern-day entity, have been dedicated to customer service and providing valuable financial solutions.


 *     *     *

Jewish Federation adds Molly Meador as coordinator of volunteers, PJ Library

Molly Meador. Photo courtesy Jewish Federation

PITTSFIELD — The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires recently announced the appointment of Molly Meador as Coordinator of Volunteers and PJ Library. In her new role, Meador will further develop the network of volunteers engaged in the Federation’s work and oversee the local PJ Library program, which provides free Jewish-themed books and music for children, and hosts entertaining and educational family outings.

Meador moved with her family to the Berkshires from Brooklyn in 2020 and has held administrative, production, and creative roles with theater groups in New York City. She most recently worked as a producer for the Keen Company’s Teen Festival and as associate artistic director at TheatreworksUSA. Additionally, she has worked with The Atlantic Acting School, Signature Theatre Company, and Manhattan Theatre Club.

Meador is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and majored in theater. She has also been a teaching/guest artist at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA),  NYU-Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), Stella Adler Studio, NYU Steinhardt School, and SUNY New Paltz.

PJ Library, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is funded locally by the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires with support from the Spitz Tuchman Family Fund and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires. The program provides free monthly books and music with Jewish content to children ages 6 months through 8 years.