Heart & Soul

Community Heart and Soul Program

What is Community Heart & Soul™?

Community Heart & Soul™, originally developed by the Orton Family Foundation, is a process that cultivates a shared sense of belonging among residents, engages them in thinking critically and creatively about community life and involves them in planning and decision-making – all as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy. Key to the process is learning what matters most by gathering stories, hopes and ideas from residents. This becomes the basis for building a community’s shared values, which informs a community’s unique action plan. As a result, communities become more connected, resourceful and resilient.

In 2020, PA Route 6 Alliance announced partnership with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) and Erie Arts & Culture, with additional support from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), that has resulted in the award of a combined $600,000 in funding, training, and support for the Northern Pennsylvania communities of Carbondale, Youngsville, Tidioute and Wyoming County. Selected through a competitive grant application process, each community has received guidance through the Community Heart & Soul® program, a multi-year community and economic development process proven to engage, strengthen, and reinvigorate communities.



Opportunity to Bring Community Heart & Soul™ to Your Town



Click here for information about Preparing for PA Heart & Soul: A Workshop Series May 24, June 14 and July 12 (12:00-1:30 p.m.)


Since 2015, PA Humanities has been working with Community Heart & Soul to engage residents across the Commonwealth in planning for their town’s future. Twelve (12) communities have gone through the process and seen:

  • New volunteers and leaders emerge
  • Updates to zoning ordinances
  • Valuable community feedback for comprehensive and local community plans
  • New businesses emerge
  • Town beautification efforts launched (facades, updates to parks, community clean ups)
  • ….and so much more.


In 2021, the PA Route 6 Alliance announced its partnership with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) and Erie Arts & Culture, with additional support from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), to award a combined $600,000 in funding, training, and support for the Northern Pennsylvania communities of CarbondaleYoungsville, Tidioute and Wyoming County. Selected through a competitive grant application process, each community has been guided through the Community Heart & Soul® program, a two-year community and economic development process proven to engage, strengthen, and reinvigorate communities.


Partnering with the City of Carbondale and NeighborWorks NEPA, Valley In Motion (VIM) led the Story Gathering team that interviewed dozens of residents about what they love about their community. Using the ideas that emerged from this collective record of values, concerns, and hopes, VIM is helping Carbondale plan successful next steps for its future. Everybody has a story to tell! Read more about Carbondale Heart & Soul by clicking here.



Youngsville Heart & Soul is everyone in the community; the entire population. Everyone has a voice and they strive to give everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts. Their goal is to light a spark in their community and inspire a feeling of togetherness where everyone is proud to live, work, play and learn. Click here to read more of their story.


Tidioute Heart & Soul is a two-year planning process grant award that empowers people to shape the future of their communities, improve local decision-making by getting the opinions of everyone who lives, works, and plays in Tidioute.  Using storytelling, residents work together to identify what matters most to the community, prioritize potential activities, and identify how those activities can be implemented. Click here to read more about Tidioute Heart& Soul.


Wyoming County

Wyoming County is rich in natural beauty and landscape, a combination of rolling farmlands and vast woodlands situated along Route 6 and the Susquehanna River, interspersed with quaint rural villages, historic sites, tumbling streams, and scenic vistas. The true beauty of Wyoming County lies not in one specific area but in a colorful combination of residents of rural towns and neighborhoods united in the single splendor of a Kaleidoscope of Communities. Click here to read more about Wyoming County Heart & Soul.