Ah-Ha logo

The Ah-Ha Project: Creative Solutions to Real Problems.  This approach creates safe space to explore, test, implement, and scale creative solutions that increase financial stability and quality of life for residents of Lancaster County.  It encourages thoughtful risk-taking and creative problem solving. It views failure as an opportunity to learn.

It’s more than a project, more than grants, it’s a philosophy setting the stage for how we do our work.

The Ah-Ha Project is bold.  It’s about pushing ourselves, and our community, to identify tipping points and catalyze resources to take calculated risks that can lead to more effective solutions for Lancaster County. 

Here is one way we try to visualize the many steps we all take when challenging our own thinking:

Ah-Ha Conversations

  • This provocative conversation series introduces engaging topics, generates fresh ways of thinking, and invites diverse voices to the table to change our community conversation. These conversations set the stage for taking ideas to action by implementing creative approaches.

Ah-Ha Collaborative Partners

The Community Foundation doesn’t have all of the answers.  With each conversation, we seek partners to help us dig into the issues and host the Ah-Ha Conversations. Ah-Ha collaborative partners have included the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, Millersville University,YWCA Lancaster, City of Lancaster Public Art and ASSETS Lancaster. We also work with local businesses and individuals who can add their perspective, expertise and creative ways of thinking to the conversations. Our goal is to connect community benefit organizations, businesses, educators and community members in a shared effort to enhance the vitality of Lancaster County.

Ah-Ha Conversations past and present


At the Table – 2016

In continued effort to learn directly from our community, we hosted At The Table, a conversation about Hopeful ideas for our community. With this unique approach, we invited individuals to host their own conversation and share thoughts from their personal conversations with us. See what we learned! 

The fourth in a series of Ah-Ha Conversations, “Our Identities Unedited” strives to widen our community narrative by creating safe spaces for civic dialogue, providing pathways for stories of identity, and cultivating mutual respect and drawing strength from our differences. “Our Identities Unedited” will be made up of many pieces, many voices, and many stories of identity. This is a community wide conversation. It is not limited to one time, one place or one group of people. Read more and learn how you can get involved.

The Great Social Enterprise Pitch put our #LocalGood conversation into action. The Pitch is an opportunity to develop a social enterprise idea or grow a current enterprise. In 2014 the Community Foundation and ASSETS worked with eight social enterprise teams developed plans and presented concepts about their ideas to create positive impact in our community. Since then we’ve hosted three Live Pitches, supported more than 25 business ideas, and generated more than $50,000 in crowd funding for local teams. LEARN MORE HERE.

  •  #LocalGood; Exploring Business Models for Social Impact  2013

This conversation focused on how business and social impact can work together in a model called Social Enterprise to create impact in our community. This gathering was the impetus for an Ah-Ha Conversation in Action — the Great Social Enterprise Pitch!

Oct. 29, 2013 @ Tellus 360.  Collaborative Partners: Assets Lancaster, Ten Thousand Villages, Tellus 360, Nuts About Granola, Upohar Ethnic Cuisine, Lancaster Workforce Investment Board, Re-entry Management Organization, Community Action Program, Lancaster Venture Partners, Light on a Hill, Move Up Printing, Habecker Mennonite Church, Goodwill Industries, Millersville University, and the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

  • Dal LaMagna: Power of Failure 2012

Successful entrepreneur and author of “Raising Eyebrows, A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets it Right,” Dal LaMagna and other local leaders shared lessons learned from failure.

  • Dan Pallotta:  the original Change the Conversation 2011

Dan Pallotta, featured TED speaker, author of “Charity Case” and “Uncharitable,” social entrepreneur, and a leading voice for change challenged us to think bigger and about the future of Lancaster.

A Conversation with Dan Pallotta – November 2011


Watch the full Dan Pallotta Keynote Address here.

Ah-Ha Grants

To date, the Community Foundation has invested more than $7 Million in Ah-Ha grants. These grants fuel organizations who are trying new models, taking calculated risks, or exploring and implementing creative solutions in Lancaster County; from youth initiatives and social enterprise to economic development and healthcare.

Ah-Ha logo

Examples of Ah-Ha Grants to local organizations are:

  • mentoring youth in Columbia to develop entrepreneurial skills
  • enhancing access to medication for low-income individuals
  • targeting youth obesity with African dance
  • exploring local microlending to underserved populations
  • performing accessible, social media-based symphony for younger audiences
  • working on a bilingual technology center to educate the local workforce
  • evaluating the feasibility of a “community farm” where people can connect to the land that grows their food & learn about good nutrition.

The next round of Ah-Ha grants will be announced in November 2016.