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One Year to Change the Next 100

Sam Bressi for LNP

This Op Ed was published on January 21, 2024

 

2024 marks a significant milestone for the Lancaster County Community Foundation, as we celebrate 100 years of serving this community. In 1924, just ten years after the launch of the first community foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, local attorney Martin M. Harnish brought this innovative concept home to Lancaster. Then known as the Lancaster Community Trust, it was one of the earliest community foundations established in America. Even then, Lancaster County was one of the pioneering communities in the nation harnessing the power of collective philanthropy. There are now more than 800 community foundations throughout the United States, each allowing individuals to leave permanent charitable gifts that grow over time and provide resources every year to support initiatives that advance the common good.

Much of our Community Foundation’s work for the last 100 years has been done quietly, behind the scenes. As charitable gifts grew over the decades, so did annual granting ability. Since its inception, the foundation has distributed more than $60 million to local causes, and ignited our signature event, the ExtraGive, which has generated more than $100 million in donations that directly support the work of local organizations.

Thanks to the visionary funders who had the foresight and generosity to leave legacy gifts over the last 100 years, the community’s endowment has become a unique resource that invites all people to make a plan today to shape our shared tomorrow.  Whether your passion is feeding the hungry or providing shelter for the unhoused, making the arts a centerpiece of community pride or investing in STEM programs, protecting our green spaces or promoting sustainable farming practices, nurturing historic preservation efforts or advancing social justice initiatives, there is a place here for you. We encourage you to share your ideas, to build on 100 years of collective impact, and to be part of investing in Lancaster County for the next 100 years.

Like Martin Harnish, and each visionary whose bold ideas and generous gifts are still at work today, we will spend this milestone year looking ahead. We’ll celebrate by inviting individuals, organizations, and communities to come together and imagine the opportunities we can create this year to change the next 100.

So, what can you expect in 2024? The Community Foundation has recognized four future-focused areas that, if invested in today, will positively impact our future: Celebrating Creative Expression, Cultivating Well-being & Vibrancy, Elevating the Next Generation, and Protecting Our Planet. We will be hosting a series of free public celebrations meant to inspire your imagination, partnering with local businesses to surprise and delight you, and activating more than $1 million of additional funds to organizations and students through innovative grant awards and scholarships. We will be inviting you to join us in building a more resilient, inclusive, and vibrant community where every person has the opportunity to thrive. You can learn more about the year ahead at changethenext100.org.

This year, I look back to 1924 in awe, when a few passionate, dedicated, and generous residents of Lancaster County knew we could achieve great things if we worked together. They dreamt of a brighter future for Lancaster, for the generations they’d never meet, and took action to make it happen.

This year, I wonder with hope and optimism what actions we can take today to create a better community for future generations. What will the residents of Lancaster 2124 be thinking and saying about us, their ancestors from way back in 2024?

This year, we can work together to change the next 100. We are all philanthropists, visionaries, and future shapers. Let’s roll up our collective sleeves and get to work investing in, and building, the future we hope for and community we dream of.

We hope you join us.

 

Sam Bressi

 

Sam Bressi is President and CEO of the Lancaster County Community Foundation.

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