With the costs of secondary education constantly on the rise it is always good to learn about new sources for funding available locally. Especially when that funding comes in the form of interest-free loans. These days more and more people are learning about the mission of Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning thanks to the decision the Executive Director Christie Livengood made earlier this year to ask for the help of a SCORE Lancaster – Lebanon mentor.
In 1961 a group of generous, civic-minded Lancastrians founded Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning as a means to assist “motivated and qualified local students who couldn’t afford college realize their dreams of earning a degree.”
This far-sighted group recognized the impact that a secondary education would have on the future of Lancaster young adults, and so, set the fund up to offer interest-free loans with favorable repayment terms. It was their thought that a program like this would not only be sustainable, but would offer students a “hand-up rather than a hand-out.” The results are that 57 years later Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning have assisted over 10,000 local students to attend colleges & universities, while dispensing over $17,000,000 in interest-free loans.
So, why isn’t this organization more widely known for the great work they have been doing for so many years? This was one of the very first issues that SCORE mentor Jim Frey and Christie Livengood tackled when they began working together. They decided that the first project was to develop a marketing strategy that worked with a slim non-profit budget. Jim has a strong background in marketing & sales, but he wanted to introduce a co-mentor to the team who had a real specialty in this field.
Enter Joann Davis-Brayman, retired V.P of Global Marketing at Armstrong World Industries and now a SCORE volunteer mentor. Joanne determined that there was an acute awareness issue and made some key suggestions on ways that the organization could become more visible. This included stepping up their social media game. The organization worked briefly with a marketing consultant suggested by SCORE and now has a robust presence on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
“Jim and Joann have both evaluated Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning and provided specific feedback on how we can grow. We have taken their advice and worked to expand our social media presence. We are being more strategic about our posts and have seen an increase in views and fundraising dollars.”
- Christie Livengood, Executive Director of Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning
Recently the organization has come to the attention of the Lancaster County Community Foundation. They have been awarded a $15,000 Capacity Building Program Grant that will
enable them to improve the organization's accounting and interest-free loan administration software. In addition, thanks to their enhanced social media activity, they were the very first winners in the Community Foundation’s #IGiveEXTRA drawing and now have $250 to add to their total for Extraordinary Give.
Christie and her SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon mentor team continue to work regularly to spread the word about the important work that Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning does to support continuing education for all here in Lancaster.
“Jim and Joann have provided guidance in the areas of marketing and development in order to make Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning a household name. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are confident with their support we can achieve this goal.”
~ Christie Livengood, Executive Director of Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning