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Announcing: Ah-Ha Project grant recipients!

LCF_Ah-Ha Gray


The Community Foundation announces more than $600,000 in grant investments as part of the Ah-Ha Project: Creative Solutions to Real Problems. The Ah-Ha Project creates safe space to explore, test, implement, and scale creative solutions that increase financial stability and quality of life in Lancaster County.  It encourages thoughtful risk-taking and creative problem solving.  And when things don’t work the way we thought, it asks questions that help us learn from our failures and make changes to our work to bring us closer to the change we are trying to create.
We’re proud to partner with these organizations on projects that tackle a wide variety of issues in our community, such as poverty elimination, affordable housing, microenterprise loans, refugee support, and services for at-risk students. Here is the full list of Grantee Partners:


Long Term Creative Solutions Matching Program


Assets Lancaster:  Business for Impact & Capital for Good                                                      
Assets will scale programs and increase impact through our microloan and social enterprise programs. These programs will support an ecosystem for the growth of high-impact businesses to solve the most difficult and long-standing problems in our community. Focusing efforts on South Lancaster City will support the most underserved part of the city.


Community Action Program of Lancaster:  The Atlas Initiative                 
The Atlas Initiative is a high-impact initiative that empowers participants to permanently move out of poverty and to “inspire and equip families and communities to resolve poverty and thrive”.The Atlas Initiative engages community members and leaders across socioeconomic lines to change conversatons around poverty, learn from those moving out of poverty, and build pathways of self-sufficiency through relationship building and advocacy.


Lancaster County Council of Churches:  Community Food and Resource Distribution Hub
The Lancaster Council of Churches $2.5 million location is serving as a Community Food and Resource Distribution Hub for all residents of Lancaster City, Columbia and surrounding communities. The Hub enables LCCC to serve nutritious meals to the countywide needy with greater efficiency than ever before.  It will also expand LCCC’s capacity to give low-income residents a “hand up”, educating them on how to make healthy and affordable food choices.


Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board: Day Report Center at PA CareerLink of Lancaster County         
The Day Report Center offers an alternative to incarceration for non-violent offenses or parole violations.  By providing skill and knowledge assessment, remedial learning, job search skills, occupational skill training and job placement as well as wrap-around services including housing, drug and alcohol counseling & relapse prevention, cognitive behavioral therapy, mentoring, and other services, the Day Report Center is designed to support participants working to become productive citizens.


Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership: LHOP and Neighborhood Improvement Program           
LHOP’s project is a comprehensive program of providing improvements in a neighborhood in Lancaster City and a neighborhood in Columbia Borough, with primary focus on providing rehabiliated and afforable for-sale and in some cases, rental housing, to existing and new residents in these neighborhoods.


Lancaster Lebanon Education Foundation:  A Place to Be: A Place for Me              
 Each year, thousands of refugees arrive in the United States through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, seeking the opportunity to rebuild their lives in a new country. Refugees are an extremely vulnerable group of people; being driven from their home countries by persecution and armed conflict.  This project will support a  Community School, focused on refugees, at Reynolds Middle School where children and their families can access critical support services to help them succeed in Lancaster County.


Spanish American Civic Association: Tec Centro Bilingual Training Center                       
Tec Centro is a bilingual education and training center operated by the Spanish American Civic Association that is addressing the persistent problems of unemployment, underemployment, and poverty in the City of Lancaster.  Tec Centro is partnering with the Harrisburg Area Community College to offer skills training in health occupations, culinary arts, construction, and manufacturing.


Creative Solutions Matching Program


Lancaster General Hospital  (Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness):  Lancaster County’s Centralized Rapid Rehousing                                       
Lancaster General Hospital (LGH) proposes to subcontract with the Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness (LCCEH) to develop a no barrier/no silo consolidated rapid rehousing system that will serve all households experiencing homelessness in Lancaster County.  Currently, individuals and families are working through multiple providers. This project will support a transition period as LCCEH and its partners build a unified system seeking to remove all barriers to service access.


No Longer Alone Ministries:  REACH Mobile Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program                                       
REACH is a unique, action-oriented program meeting the needs of adults with serious mental illness living in Lancaster County. REACH eliminates barriers to care by bringing qualified, compassionate psychiatric rehab services directly to a client’s home. Training and support is provided in independent living skills, vocational, and social arenas. Clients rebuild their lives, demonstrate resilience, and prove that their mental illness need not control them.


Thaddeus Stevens Foundation: STEM on Wheels                                    
STEM on Wheels will increase Lancaster County K-12 students’ and community awareness about well-paying STEM careers and encourage them to pursue STEM education. A used, low-rise box truck will be outfitted to transport STEM workshop equipment to schools in the region, enabling Stevens College faculty to bring hands-on experiential learning to students. In one year, an estimated 2,000 K-12 students and 25 teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators at 10-12 schools will be reached.


Social Enterprise Program


Bethany Christian Services of Central PA: Lancaster’s Own – Cooking Up Food and Futures                   
The creation of “Lancaster’s Own” will provide an opportunity for at-risk youth to enroll in an apprenticeship program. The program will provide basic culinary, work, and life skills training that will promote work readiness, a thriving wage job, and self-sufficiency. Youth manpower will enable the production of fresher, healthier food products for seniors in our community. Lancaster’s Own will provide a source of revenue to support the missions of Meals on Wheels and Bethany Christian Services.


Community Action Program of Lancaster: Soulfull       
Soulfull showcases a fusion of culture and authentic food delivered by a convenient mobile eatery dining experience. We are dedicated to serving cuisine popular in the African                                                                                            American culture known as “soul food” which best describes the spirit in which our food is prepared. Beyond celebrating diversity with food, Soulfull will generate revenue to                                                                                                sustainably feed vulnerable members of our community while creating introductory training opportunities and pathways to existing certificate programs.


Jump Street: Nu Life Social Enterprise 
NuLife’s Sewing Works is an employment and training program that  seeks to convert waste to salable product.  NuLife will promote innovative upcycling of unwanted and unsalable clothing and textiles which are cleaned, redesigned, refashioned or repurposed into new products and sold at local flea markets, craft shows and online. NuLife will serve individuals who are under/unemployed, and/or persons with mental health or physical challenges.


The Common Wheel:  Increasing Efficiency and Accessibility at The Common Wheel: A Community Bike Center
The Common Wheel is a commmunity bike center that works to improve people’s lives through the power of bikes. We teach kids and adults how to maintain their bikes. We teach people how to safely use their bike as a powerful and affordable tool for transportation. We also work to break down barriers to bike ownership for the underserved. This project will make our operation more organized and efficient, resulting in more bikes in the hands of people who need, while increasing our revenue.


The Mix at Arbor Place: Turn the Page                                          
 Funding will be utilized to explore the idea of creating a youth run social enterprise bookstore in the heart of Lancaster City. The bookstore will be a hybrid brick and mortar/online business where students learn skills to operate a business. In addition to on the job training, Turn the Page will promote community literacy in the low income neighborhoods of Lancaster. The end result is a feasibility study to evaluate possible implementation.
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