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2013 Ah-Ha Grant Announcements!

We are proud to announce $810,000 in grant investments to 20 local community benefit organizations whose work supports the residents of Lancaster County. These grants, a part of the Ah-Ha Project: Creative Solutions to Real Problems, will support a range of programs including affordable housing, access to health and dental care, support for our local, bilingual workforce and services for at-risk students.

The Community Foundation invests millions of dollars in Lancaster County through grantmaking programs, the Extraordinary Give, fellowships and community convening.  Trained community volunteers and staff review grant proposals and recommend grants to the Community Foundation Board of Directors who ultimately approve the investments.

Please find a complete list of 2013 Ah-Ha Grant Recipients below:



The Creative Solutions Matching Fund is to address community issues or opportunities that impact the following: increasing financial stability and/or the quality of life in Lancaster County; implementation of a new way of working (community benefit organizational model). 

ASSETS Lancaster                             $35,000

Introducing “Lending Circles,” ASSETS Lancaster will build on its 20-year history of using business for social impact in underserved populations by locally piloting a nationally-recognized microlending program, increasing our outreach and collaboration in minority communities, providing agile training and mentoring services to underserved entrepreneurs, and launching a social innovation fellowship program for individuals exploring social enterprise in the private sector to address the issue of minority and underserved business ownership and job creation.

Imani Edu-tainers African Dance Company        $10,500

AYA, the West African Adinkra symbol for endurance is the Imani Edu-Tainers African Dance Company’s (IEADC) program that continues to target reduced obesity rates among Lancaster area youth.  In 2014, AYA will use an innovative combination of traditional West African dance instruction and drumming, along with the latest mobile and web technologies to educate youth about the lifelong benefits of healthy eating and to facilitate and motivate increased physical activity among youth.

Lancaster County Business Group on Health      $50,000

The project will work with local employers to improve health in the workplace.  Utilizing a customized social media plan and a health indicators data warehouse to support wellness programs that will affect two key areas of population health identified in Lancaster’s community action plan:  addressing obesity through BMI improvements and encouraging the cessation of tobacco use.


Pennsylvania College of Art and Design      $50,000

Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, committed to the “City as Campus,” is using a three-pronged approach that ensures that appropriate, affordable housing within the city is available to an expanding student body. The three elements include converting unused upper-story space through a master-lease arrangement with a downtown landlord, redevelopment of an unused structure into college-owned student housing, and providing housing scholarships to students so they can afford to choose to live in clusters with other artists and designers.


Samaritan Counseling Center                    $50,000

TeenHope is an innovative in-school screening program to help identify teens in crisis who are struggling with depression, anxiety or may be contemplating suicide.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24.  Lancaster County is not immune to the occurrence of teen suicide.  Preventative mental health screening of adolescents using the TeenHope Program will be a vital tool that improves the chances of early intervention and prevention of complications of mental illness.


Water Street Health Services                    $50,000

Water Street Health Services (WSHS) will create a unique specialized dental program that will address the increasing community need for trauma-informed dentistry. Collaborations will include St. Joseph’s Health Ministries, SACA, Dental Access Lancaster County, and Lancaster General’s Medical and Dental Residencies, Behavioral Health, and Healthy Beginnings Programs.



The Community Foundation supports the exploration of social enterprise as an approach to advance the social mission of a community benefit organization using market-based strategies.  These strategies could include receiving revenue in exchange for a product or service. 

Bethany Christian Services                          $15,000

In collaboration with Good Stuff Thrift (GST), Bethany Christian Services of Central PA (BCS) will establish a thrift store in Lancaster.  This project will enable the thriving Safe Families services (Safe Families for Children and Safe Families PLUS) to become self-sustaining, while significantly supporting partners serving local youth including: Cross Connection Ministries in New Holland, The Mix at Arbor Place in Lancaster, and TNT Youth Ministry in Ephrata.


Lancaster Science Factory                             $14,500

The Lancaster Science Factory will conduct a feasibility study and create a business plan to expand its interactive learning opportunities with a Science “To Go” Store.  The store will serve an educational mission of encouraging science play in Lancaster youth, inspiring them to experiment, tinker, problem-solve and “do science” outside the classroom and museum walls. The store will stock fun and unique educational items relating to the physical sciences, technology, engineering and math.


Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen                  $15,000

The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen will explore development of an Online Store that will highlight makers of fine craft and link tourists, buyers and residents with a new “Handmade In PA” movement that will draw public attention to Lancaster as a true City of Makers and Pennsylvania as the national Center of American Craft.




The Ah-Ha Seed Fund grants are to catalyze change in small, but powerful ways.  Additionally, ideas should empower participating youth and young adults to develop their leadership skills.  The resources from the Seed Fund support the pilot or testing of ideas or creative solutions designed by, for and/or with youth and young adults in Lancaster County. 

Congregation Shaarai Shomayim              $5,000

This summer enrichment program will serve at-risk middle school students, primarily from refugee families, in a supportive educational and social environment. Students will maintain the reading and language skills of the participants during the summer vacation, a time when English as a Second Language students can lose as much as 60% of what they learned during the school year. This program will also provide a meaningful opportunity for a group of high school students who will be implementing the program as they will come from diverse ethnic, religious, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Crispus Attucks Community Center         $5,000

The program will provide private violin lessons for disadvantaged students from George Washington and King Elementary schools who would otherwise be unable to further develop their musical skills. These children have already exhibited discipline and dedication to learning an instrument (as demonstrated by their involvement in a string ensemble) and have performed publicly throughout Lancaster City.
In collaboration with J.P. McCaskey’s high school’s gospel choir director, orchestra and band members be selected to attend a leadership training course and become student mentors and leaders for the younger students by providing accountability and serving as practice partners.


Heads Up Lancaster                        $5,000

The FlameTime Leadership Academy will empower and develop a select group of Fulton Elementary School students through urban arts workshops, relationships with local artists, teachers and business mentors and   “Parent Leadership Cafe’s” to be change-agents in their school, community and the city at large. The original group of 25 students will each train and mentor two other students throughout the year, thereby releasing 75 young leaders in the school and community who realize their own innate gifts, exercise their unique strengths, and walk as leaders in their families and neighborhoods despite circumstantial or socioeconomic obstacles.


The Mix at Arbor Place                  $5,000

“We Rock the Mic” guides at-risk students through a structured creative program, where students learn how to write and perform their own poetry. Students gain knowledge of literature, the poetic form, and self expression while developing positive leadership skills. Spoken word and slam poetry act as a vessel for youth to learn positive expression and leadership in one’s community.  Students will learn about hip hop music, and its positive and negative leadership messages. Students will craft a final performance and present it to the Lancaster community at-large.



The Long Term Creative Solutions Matching Fund grants increase economic opportunity and/or youth development in Lancaster City and Columbia Borough.

Community First Fund                                   $60,000

Community First will build capacity to seek additional Federal New Markets Tax Credits. Over five years, the program will stimulate more than $50 million of public and private investment in Lancaster and Columbia by developing community-based health care facilities, charter schools for low-income students, grocery stores in neighborhoods and downtown businesses.  This approach has provided a new model for doing business for Community First Fund. In April 2013 Community First Fund was selected as one of only 85 organizations in the country for the New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) program, receiving a $15 million allocation of tax credits, which will leverage over $45 million in new investment in three-to-four community projects.  The third year of funding from LCCF will allow us to implement the program and bring critical investment capital to Lancaster City and Columbia Borough.


Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership                       $80,000

LHOP is creating LHIFT, a new affordable housing revolving loan program. A portion of the LHIFT funds would be directed to the City of Lancaster and Columbia Borough.  LHIFT would  include:  (1) acquisition, rehab, resale of blighted residential properties; (2) development of mixed-use buildings in order to provide upstairs rental apartments; (3) first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance; and (4) housing programs to end homelessness.
In the second year, LHOP will purchase blighted properties for rehabilitation and sale, work with local officials and neighborhood residents to identify housing needs, implement housing programs that meet the needs, and work to form a neighborhood organization within Lancaster City and Columbia.


Community Action Program                                       $70,000

The Circles program uses a transformational approach that partners volunteers and community leaders with families wanting to make the journey out of poverty. The family is the Circle Leader, setting direction for activities. With the help and friendship of their allies, each family sets and achieves goals unique to their own needs.
Poverty steals resources from our community and destroys the hopes and dreams of our neighbors. Circles engages the community as a whole and builds purposeful relationships across all economic lines. This community-wide approach makes poverty a community-wide problem and lays the groundwork for a community solution.

Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board            $100,000


The Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, on behalf of the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO), proposes using evidence-based practice from corrections literature and RMO’s five years of experience providing prisoner reentry services to offer similar services as an alternative to incarceration through a Day Report Center (DRC) at PA CareerLink of Lancaster County, which provides employment services for ex-offenders.   The approach provides job skills training, case management, job placement and other services to help offenders become productive citizens and remain crime-free, enhance community safety, and save taxpayers’ money.


Lancaster County Council of Churches                            $80,000

The Council will create a sustainable food hub to vastly increase healthy food distributed to economically-disadvantaged Lancaster City and Columbia residents. This new model in community cooperation will lead to systemic changes in the fight to end food insecurity and work to reduce education gaps, lost wages, and the high health costs of nutritional deficiencies.


Spanish American Civic Association                                  $65,000

Tec Centro will provide training for high-demand industry jobs, adult basic education and remedial English language skills necessary for employment.  Serving 900 low-income adults each year, Tec Centro will diversify the regional and local labor market while providing badly needed economic opportunity to underserved ethnic populations.


Lancaster County Medical Foundation (PALCO)                 $45,000

Project Access Lancaster County (PALCO) and Dental Access Lancaster County (DALCO) represent an unprecedented philanthropic network of 905 medical providers and 130 dentists, serving residents of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, leveraging existing healthcare resources in the community. The Patient Navigation Program aims to develop innovative patient navigation interventions to reduce or eliminate health disparities and improve cost-effectiveness. These interventions are designed to decrease the time between a finding, definitive diagnosis, and delivery of quality standard care services. Year 3 goals include assisting patients understand the Affordable Care act, serving more super-utilizers, and serving more patients through the navigator’s intensive case load and patient load.


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