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The ROC Cohort Continues to Strengthen the Local Small Business Ecosystem

The journey of the Lancaster ROC Cohort began with recognizing the pressing need for BIPOC-owned businesses to achieve parity in the region. Acknowledging the vital role these businesses play in the community’s growth, the Cohort embarked on the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s Reinventing Our Communities program. Cohort members engaged in a series of trainings, and conversations with Lancaster County businesses. The journey revealed systemic challenges faced by BIPOC entrepreneurs, such as limited access to resources and capital. As a response, in May 2022 the Cohort released its strategic plan, focusing on three priorities: Strengthening Trust, Building Equitable Access to Capital, and Building Community.

After the program ended, the cohort rebranded into the Reimagining Our Community (ROC) Cohort to continue the work locally. Over the past year, in partnership with local stakeholders, they launched the ROC Loan, hired a Community Engagement Coordinator, hosted the president of the Federal Bank of Philadelphia, and launched the ROC Giving Circle. The next steps for the Lancaster ROC Cohort are filled with promise and impact. Read on to learn more about these ongoing initiatives.

ROC Cohort Announces the “Reimaging Our Community” Giving Circle


ROC Giving Circle Launch attendees pose for photo.

The ROC cohort established the “Reimagining Our Community Giving Circle” through the Lancaster County Community Foundation. This Giving Circle represents a unique way to democratize philanthropy through collective giving and decision-making. The fund aims to address existing gaps in resources for BIPOC-owned small businesses in Lancaster County, ensuring equitable access and implementation of services.

The giving circle launched August 17th , 2023, at a celebration that included dozens of local supporters. This giving circle will allow the cohort to continue to strengthen the small business ecosystem and economy. They plan to invite local stakeholders to join them in their mission through a first round of grants in 2024. Learn how you can contribute to the bright future of Lancaster County’s BIPOC business community. 

Related articles: Group organizes Giving Circle to support BIPOC business community (One United Lancaster)


ROC Cohort Hosts Patrick T. Harker, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia


President of the Federal reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Patrick Harker, poses with owner of House of Clarendon, Martine Cajas.

The ROC cohort recently hosted President Harker of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and associates, to share their successes over the past year in improving the ecosystem for BIPOC owned small businesses in Lancaster County. The day started with a roundtable discussion where they had the opportunity to discuss both challenges and opportunities for improving the local economy. Small business support was a main topic of conversation because the county is a small business economy, with 97% of businesses having less than 100 employees and a large percentage of those having less than 25 employees (EDC, 2020). Throughout the day, they also had the opportunity to tour local businesses and hear stories from a diverse group of business owners.

This tour was only one of the ways that the cohort continues their relationship with the Federal Reserve. In June 2023, the cohort participated in the Cleveland Federal Reserve’s Policy Summit Conference where they joined other communities that participated in the ROC Program. They also continue to meet quarterly with other ROC communities across the country to share learnings and to keep working towards strengthening the local ecosystem for BIPOC owned small businesses.

Related articles: Reinventing/Reimagining Our Community: Lancaster stakeholders embrace Philadelphia Fed’s BIPOC business initiative (One United Lancaster)

ASSETS Launches “ROC Loan” for BIPOC-Owned Small Businesses


Quacey's Wings & Drinks family.

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.


ASSETS Hires “Community Engagement Coordinator” to Help Advance ROC Cohort Strategic Plan


Chelsea Christmas headshot.

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.

ROC Cohort Members

Amer AlFayadh (Communication Essentials LLC), Danielle Beattie (KW Elite), Denzel Brown, (ASSETS), Alissa Calhoun (Department of Neighborhood Engagement (LOOP)), 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), Travis Kirkland (Truist)

Previous Members: CAP, Fred Waller (Waller Tax), Hattie McCarter (Mend Consulting), Kelvin Harris (realtor), United Way of Lancaster County, YWCA

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

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We will continuously publish information about ongoing programs and initiatives.

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