PA Route 6 Communities to Become Community Heart & Soul Towns

PA Route 6 Communities to Become Community Heart & Soul Towns

Northern Tier Communities Receive Funding to Become Community Heart & Soul Towns 

PA  Route 6 Alliance, PHCErie Arts & Culture, DCED and DCNR award $600K in support to Northern Tier Communities.


The PA Route 6 Alliance announced the 2020 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)has resulted in the award of 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 will be guided through the Community Heart & Soul® program, a two-year community and economic development process proven to engage, strengthen, and reinvigorate communities. 


PHC has worked for the past six years to bring Community Heart & Soul® to Pennsylvania communities. Originally developed by the Orton Family Foundation, Community Heart & Soul® guides communities through the use of humanities-based tools, like collecting stories and uncovering shared values, to engage and unite residents of all generations, backgrounds, and sectors in community planning. This new cohort of communities from within the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor will follow the lead of the Community Heart & Soul® Towns of Ambridge, Beaver Falls, Rochester, Dillsburg, Upper Chichester, Cameron County, Greater Carlisle, Mount Holly Springs, Meadville, and Williamsport.  

 PHC Executive Director, Laurie Zierer, explains, “Despite the present challenges, our resilient Community Heart & Soul® Towns are finding innovative and safe ways to engage residents, build relationships, honor homegrown talents and assets, and reclaim and reshape their communities.”  

Spanning the Northern Tier of Pennsylvaniascenic Route 6 boasts dozens of small towns, twenty of which are designated PA Heritage Communities in recognition of their commitment to preserving and sharing their community’s unique history and character. Of the communities receiving Community Heart & Soul® awardsCarbondaleYoungsville, and Tunkhannock in Wyoming County are Heritage Communities. 

“With its vast natural, cultural, scenic, recreational, and historical resources, the Pennsylvania Route 6 Heritage Corridor is primed for growth,” said Candace Hillyard, Executive Director of the PA Route 6 Alliance. “I am thrilled to see Community Heart & Soul® come to the region, which will put residents first in planning for their future.

The communities are expected to begin the Community Heart & Soul® process in March 2021. For more information, contact the PA Route 6 Alliance at or 814-435-7706Learn more about PHC’s work and the communities they have supported by visiting 

The PA Route 6 Alliance, a 501(c3) corporation, was established in 2003 to manage the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor and to implement branding and marketing plans, community development programs, and other planning efforts along the corridor. The Alliance includes representatives from all 11 counties, 9 convention and visitor bureaus, 4 heritage areas, local development districts, local business owners, Chambers of Commerce, and other interested parties along the corridor. 

The PA Route 6 Heritage Communities program is a program of PA Route 6 Alliance and PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor funded by the PA Heritage Area Program under the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  

More About Community Heart & Soul™

Community Heart & Soul™, originally developed by the Orton Family Foundation, is an innovative program that helps a community use humanities-based tools, such as stories and shared values, to cultivate a sense of belonging among residents and engage them in community planning – with the ultimate goal of strengthening the community’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy.

Key to the process is learning what matters most to the community by gathering stories, hopes, and ideas from residents of all generations, backgrounds, and sectors. This becomes the basis for building a community’s shared values, which informs the community’s unique action plan and makes the community more connected, resourceful, and resilient.

Support for these awards is provided by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities under a grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.