In 1961, a group of enterprising and civic-minded Lancastrians decided they wanted to help motivated and qualified local students who couldn’t afford college realize their dreams of earning a degree. They recognized the importance of post-secondary education and the impact it could have on Lancaster County.

Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning has helped more than 10,000 local students attend college.

Rather than offer grants or scholarships, however, this group offered interest-free loans with favorable repayment terms. Why not a gift program? The group understood the character-building difference between a hand-out and a hand-up. Group members were counting on Lancaster County’s strong work ethic to propel students to repay their loans and go on to pursue meaningful and productive lives. They were right.

Fifty-six years later, that local interest-free loan program continues to endure and thrive. In that span of time, the organization now known as Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning has helped more than 10,000 local students attend colleges and universities, technical and trade schools. The basic tenets are still the same — need-based, interest-free loans for up to four years of full-time, accredited education beyond high school. And the repayment terms are generous and affordable.

Back in 1961, those forward-thinking Lancastrians knew something important and built something to last. Today, Lancaster County Dollars for Higher Learning continues to carry their mission. Like the trailblazers before us, we understand that education is the launching pad for a better life, more economic security and higher civic engagement. Our goal is to build dreams, interest-free.

Here’s to another 10,000 students served.