Shaping Lancaster Youth Innovation Challenge


Statistics show that 41% of the population of Lancaster City is under the age of 30, 59% of the population is a racial or ethnic minority, and 31% of city residents in poverty. Very few representatives of this population can be found in positions of leadership. Our community lacks diverse, home-grown leaders that represent our racially diverse community.


From January to April 2016, the Shaping Lancaster Innovation Summit provided social innovation workshops and mentoring in partnership with local organizations to inspire current and future young leaders of color of their ability to bring about positive change within their community. Workshops were conducted and a concluding summit in April that elevated the voice of young people in Lancaster to identify and solve community problems.


  • Promote youth involvement in Social Innovation through workshops which culminate in a pitch competition.

  • Students learn to create solutions to community problems by creating a social innovation plan and pitch.

  • Students learn effective pitch methods that enhance presentation skills, professionalism and confidence.

  • Summit attendees see an empowered group of youth that are motivated and eager for positive change in their communities.

  • Community learns to appreciate the power of young people to facilitate positive community change.


  • Partnered with 3 nonprofit organizations who are working to empower youth

  • The following funds were distributed to organizations and youth: $1000 to five youth with Children Deserve a Chance; $750 to three youth at The Mix at Arbor Place; $500 to one youth at the Boys & Girls Club.

  • Supported 16 youth in leadership skills development

  • Engaged 6 non-Shaper community members as volunteer mentors

  • Youth Innovation Summit recorded 163 attendees


Shapers facilitated social innovation workshops with youth and provided mentoring in partnership with local organizations. Dialogues addressed the pressing social issues unique to the Lancaster community. The workshops and mentoring culminated in a Youth Innovation Summit event.


The social innovation workshops, mentoring, and summit were possible thanks to collaboration with The Ware Center at Millersville University, the Lancaster County Community Foundation, ASSETS, Prince Street Café, Fig, Aspire Ventures, Children Deserve A Chance (CDAC), The Mix at Arbor Place, and the Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster.


  • Elevate the voice of diverse young people in Lancaster to solve community problems through intentional dialogue.

  • Inspire young leaders of their ability to bring about positive change and teach existing leaders about the power of our young people.