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Announcing nearly $700,000 in 2014 Ah-Ha grants!

The Lancaster County Community Foundation announces $694,000 in grant investments to 17 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 refugee support, affordable housing, microenterprise loans, support for seniors and services for at-risk students.


Full list of 2014 Ah-Ha Grant Announcements:


The Long Term Creative Solutions Matching Program increases economic opportunity and/or youth development in Lancaster City and Columbia Borough. Grants require organizations to generate matching funds.

ASSETS Lancaster- $100,000

Expansion of a successful pilot project to scale microenterprise lending.  The scaling of microloan and social enterprise programs will create an ecosystem for the growth of high-impact businesses to solve long-standing challenges.  Focus will be specifically on South Lancaster City.

Lancaster-Lebanon Education Foundation- $100,000

A Refugee Community School at Reynolds Middle School will support refugee children and their families with access to critical support services they need to help them succeed in their new country. Services will be centralized in the midst of a large refugee community and will empower parents with resources such as Adult Cultural Orientation, Adult ESL and GED classes, financial literacy, homeowner/landlord rights and responsibilities, health and mental health education and job training.

Community Action Program- $54,000

The Circles program uses a transformational approach that partners volunteers and community leaders with families wanting to make the journey out of poverty. 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.

Community First Fund- $40,000

Community First Fund 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.

Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership- $60,000

LHOP is strengthening our community house by house.  Their work is improving neighborhoods through rehabilitated and affordable rental and for-sale housing and creatingimpact in Lancaster City and Columbia Borough.

Lancaster County Council of Churches- $80,000

The Council is creating 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.

Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board- $10,000

The Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, is creating a Day Report Center.  The approach provides job skills training, case management, job placement and other services as an alternative to sentencing for non-violent offenders.  This approach works with offenders to support them as they become productive citizens, remain crime-free, enhance community safety, and save taxpayers’ money.

Spanish American Civic Association- $30,000

Tec Centro is providing bi-lingual 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.



The Creative Solutions Matching Program supports implementation of creative solutions that increase financial stability and/or quality of life.  This may include first-time implementation of a new approach, new business models for community benefit organizations, or scaling of evidence-based creative solutions.

Lodge Life Services- $40,000

Scaling a social enterprise business that helps provide seniors at all income levels with support services.

RSVP of Capital Region- $23,013

Collaborating with other local organizations to connect seniors with tangible local volunteer opportunities.

Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services- $18,000

In partnership with The School District of Lancaster, SVPS will provide on-campus lay-counseling , education, and material assistance to pregnant and parenting teens.  Studies indicate that on-campus mentoring and provision of educational services can improves parenting skills, decreases stress (which impairs cognitive functioning), and empowers mothers to complete their high school education.

Thaddeus Stevens Foundation- $34,000

This project encourages K-14 learning and excitement in science and technology while cultivating broad awareness about real-world robotics in Lancaster County students. Thaddeus Stevens will acquire mobile collaborative robotic equipment and use it for interdisciplinary postsecondary teaching and learning. College students and faculty will work together to create a fun robotic exhibit and install it as a special summer exhibit at the Lancaster Science Factory May 1 to mid-August 2015.



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. 

Lancaster Science Factory- $25,000

Create a “Science to Go Store” that will encourage science play outside of classroom and museum walls.

ASSETS Lancaster- $25,000

Exploration around the feasibility of an Impact Hub Lancaster as a local pilot that is part innovation lab, part business incubator and part community center designed to build community and drive transformative economic development.

Spanish American Civic Association- $25,000

Business Planning and implementation of Café Centro, employing  culinary arts students,  offering  a coffee shop and ethnic food eatery located on site at Tec Centro to serve clients and neighbors.

Bethany Christian Services- $25,000

Implementation of a thrift store to provide job training for youth and generate revenue to support local youth programs.

Faith Tabernacle- $15,000

Exploration around the feasibility of a community-owned Cooperative Community Day Care that will bring unique benefits to early childhood educational development as well as driving local economic impact.



The Ah-Ha Seed Program catalyzes change in small, but powerful ways.  Ideas 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. 

Junior Achievement – $5,000

High School Heroes is student-to-student teaching program.  High school students (Heroes) serve as role models and deliver financial literacy lessons, entrepreneurship and work readiness to elementary students.

The Mix at Arbor Place- $5,000

“Remixed Studio” creates space for at-risk students to learn hands-on recording production and business skills. Students will work with mentors to create music and provide sound production for live events.

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