The Atlas Initiative helps participants identify the resources they have and the goals they want to establish, learn how to get involved in their communities, and build beneficial relationships with others.

Getting Ahead Training

Participants, known as Leaders, attend a 20-week “Getting Ahead” training which includes a meal, child care and a financial stipend for attendance, and which provides the focus for the next 18 months of the program during which participants work on the goals they have established.

After completing the Getting Ahead training, participants are matched with volunteer Allies who provide supportive friendship and encouragement as they work to reach goals together. In the long-term, Atlas helps participants increase their income and assets, reach other goals they have set for themselves, and build supportive, meaningful relationships within the community to help them get ahead for the long term.


Eligible participants must:

  • Live in Lancaster County
  • Have an income at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines listed below (individual situations that differ from these guidelines may be considered)
  • Be ready to work on larger life goals
  • Commit to attending a 16 week “Getting Ahead” class and 18 months of additional weekly meetings with Allies and other Atlas participants
Family Size Maximum Yearly Family Income
1 $14,713
2 $19,913
3 $25,113
4 $30,313
5 $35,513
6 $40,713
7 $45,913
8 $51,113

Get Involved!

The success of Atlas relies heavily on the participation of community members. There are many ways to get involved! For example, you can:

  • Donate, prepare and serve a simple evening meal to an Atlas group in Columbia Borough or Lancaster City
  • Volunteer to provide child care for 2 hours an evening on a regular basis (ranging from once a week to once a quarter)
  • Volunteer as a Ally and participate in the program as a supportive friend to low-income individuals and families
  • Volunteer to teach an educational workshop for the Atlas community on your specific area of expertise
  • Contribute financially to support the Atlas Initiative