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Reinventing Our Communities (ROC) Lancaster County Cohort

Lancaster County Team Joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Racial Equity and Small Business Support Cohort Program

A cross-sector collaboration of organizations, businesses, and community members in Lancaster County participated in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s second annual Reinventing Our Communities cohort program. This program used a lens of racial justice to focus on equitable business recovery, and to support business owners disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and those that have been historically and systematically oppressed. In July 2022, the cohort finalized a multi-year plan for Lancaster County. Currently, the ROC cohort is working on implementation.

Over this 10 month program, the Lancaster County cohort:

  • Participated in racial equity training led by Race Forward, a nonprofit racial justice organization, and in smaller group trainings with practitioners with business expertise
  • Engaged Lancaster County businesses and the larger community throughout this initiative to ensure their voices were represented in any strategies that were developed
  • Identified structural barriers that business owners face, and developed recommendations for equitable business recovery using input from the community, to enhance and fill in gaps that exist in current initiatives

Building a Strategy with BIPOC Business Owners:

Throughout their learning journey, the ROC cohort engaged more than four dozen BIPOC-small business owners, and with their help, identified three strategic priorities:

  • Strengthen trust among resource providers and BIPOC-owned small businesses
  • Build equitable access to capital for BIPOC-owned small businesses
  • Strengthen community for BIPOC-owned small businesses

The strategic plan includes clear goals and actionable steps to implement solutions within a three to five-year timeline.

Ongoing Programs and Initiatives

ROC Giving Circle

The Reimagining Our Community (ROC) Giving Circle is a way for the community to support BIPOC small business through collective philanthropy. The Giving Circle is managed by the ROC Cohort. Its purpose is to facilitate funding to initiatives that support BIPOC-owned small businesses. Money will be awarded to existing 501c3 non-profit organizations that have or wish to develop programming, services, or products to support the development and sustainability of BIPOC-owned small businesses in Lancaster County. The goal is that these funds will bridge gaps within existing resources to ensure that services are equitable in access, participation, and implementation.


ROC Loan

In collaboration with BIPOC small business owners, the ROC Loan was established to address the systemic challenges that exist in accessing capital. This loan is also a way for ASSETS to continue to lean into their mission of supporting women and BIPOC entrepreneurs.

The loan is up to $10,000, has a 3-year term, 1% APR fixed, and 30% grant match.

Community Engagement Coordinator

In November 2022, the ROC Cohort took a pivotal step toward implementing its strategic plan after ASSETS hired Chelsea Christmas as a Community Engagement Coordinator. Chelsea’s role was developed from community input and informed as a recommendation within the ROC Cohort Strategic Plan. Leveraging her own entrepreneurial experience, Chelsea plays a crucial role in providing strategic growth opportunities for new and established businesses. For businesses looking to access or navigate local resources, Chelsea is a great resource.

Meet the Lancaster County Cohort Team


Lancaster County was represented in the Reinventing Our communities Cohort by twelve cross-sector organizations and businesses: ASSETS, Communication Essentials LLC, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County, Lancaster City Alliance, Lancaster City Council, Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, Lancaster County Community Foundation, PhotOle Photography, The Cultured Professional Network, United Way of Lancaster County, Waller Tax & Financial Services, and YWCA of Lancaster.

After the program ended, the cohort rebranded into the Reimagining Our Community (ROC) Cohort to continue the work locally. Current members include Amer AlFayadh (Communication Essentials LLC), Danielle Beattie (KW Elite), Denzel Brown, (ASSETS), Alissa Calhoun (Department of Neighborhood Engagement (LOOP), City of Lancaster), Chelsea Christmas (ASSETS), Javar Colon (Lancaster Chamber), Alma Felix (Lancaster County Community Foundation), Casey Flores (Spider Image Promotions), Ariana Garcia (KWElite), Ole Hongvanthong (PhotOle Photography), Adam Hosey (Cultural Bridges to Justice), Whitney Lupton (TCP Network), Ashleen Nice Weaver (Truist), Alex Otthofer (Lancaster City Alliance), and Travis Kirkland (Truist).

Previous small business members include: Hattie McCarter (Mend Consulting), Kelvin Harris (Coldwell Banker Realty)

The work of the cohort is also strengthened by the ongoing participation of dozens of local small business owners who attend the ROC community conversations and those who are part of the advising team.

Be a part of this initiative

Talk to a cohort member

Email us to set up a time with a cohort member and share your insights on this project.

Stay Updated

We will continuously publish information about our learning journey and about any strategies we develop.

Join the ROC Lancaster County cohort mailing list to receive updates on this initiative.

Are you interested in helping set foundations for this initiative?

Would you like to help kick off the BIPOC small business investment fund, help support funding for the community liaison position, or help set a foundation for any other part of this strategic plan?

Contact Alma Felix, Program Officer at the Lancaster County Community Foundation

[email protected]

(717)397-1629 x 110

Learn More About The Federal Reserve Reinventing Our Communities Program

The 2021 Reinventing Our Communities (ROC) Cohort Program is a 10-month training program for cross-sector community cohorts to promote equitable small business recovery from the pandemic. The 2021 program targets nine communities across the U.S., bringing together experts and stakeholders that will lead the training program. These communities are: Allentown/PA, Broward County/FL, Charleston/SC, Chester County/PA, Lancaster/PA, Las Vegas/NV, St. Cloud/MN, Wayne County/PA, and York/PA.

Check Out Updates Regarding the ROC Lancaster County Cohort

Throughout the process we will publish news where we will share insights on what we learn throughout the program and update on any strategies we develop.