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Honoring Our History

We’re here today because in 1924, a group of visionaries came together to shape a better future for our community. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of people throughout the last 100 years, we’ve been able to create resiliency and possibility for people across Lancaster County.

A Snapshot of Our History

  • 1924

    Attorney Martin M. Harnish sees a new movement from Cleveland and establishes the Lancaster Community Trust as one of the earliest community foundations in America.

  • 1928

    First Grant: $600 scholarship supporting esteemed educator Erna Grassmuck for higher education.

  • 1930

    An early gift to the future as Miss Mary Musser leaves her entire estate to the Lancaster Community Trust for the “poor and poverty stricken.”

  • 1941

    Contributed $2000 to support the original construction of the Crispus Attucks Recreation Center.

  • 1980s

    Received a portion of Benjamin Franklin’s original Trust. His intention to support education for young people continues to impact youth today through foundations across Pennsylvania.

  • 1994

    $30,000 to support the first Enola Rail Trail study that led to the the recreation trails we enjoy today.

  • 1999

    A $125K grant to explore potential uses for the Watt & Shand Building which we now know as the Lancaster Marriott and Lancaster County Convention Center.

  • 2002

    $7,500 to Historic Preservation Trust helped restore the home and law office of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, now a part of LancasterHistory’s new Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Center for History and Democracy.

    Opening 2025

  • 2007

    Investing in the Arts initiative secured First Fridays, Public Art, and Arts accessibility programs for all residents of Lancaster.

  • 2008

    As the national economy plummeted, $750,000 for Family Aid to provide food, shelter, heating, and basic needs during the Great Recession.

  • 2011

    The Ah-Ha Project: Creative Solutions to Real Problems sparked innovation in the nonprofit sector spurring impacts like SoWe, bike lanes, and mobile shelters.

  • 2012

    Launched the signature event, Extraordinary Give, inviting all Lancastrians to support a cause they care about. The event has now raised $100 million for local causes.

  • 2016

    Partnered to support the New Americans economic study confirming that immigrants contribute a positive $1.3 billion to the annual GDP of Lancaster County.

  • 2020

    When the pandemic struck in March 2020, partnered with United Way to launch Lancaster Cares Covid Relief Fund raising more than $1.2 million in funds for housing, food, and basic needs in our community.

  • 2022

    Supported creation of the first-ever Lancaster County Racial Equity Profile to help guide equitable growth and economic vitality for all residents and our community’s future.

A Groundbreaking Idea

The early 1900s was an era of innovation and change in our nation. In 1914, a new “community foundation” movement emerged inviting more people to support their communities and creating a way to keep their gifts relevant for future generations.

Our Story

Even then, Lancaster County was one of the pioneering communities in the nation harnessing the power of collective philanthropy. Now, there are more than 800 community foundations throughout the United States

Today, the Lancaster County Community Foundation cares for the $200 million in community assets that build resource, resilience, and possibility for Lancaster County.