Community Heart & Soul Program

Your town is not just a place. It's home. Your town's unique character along with the deep emotional connection felt by the people who live there is your town’s “Heart & Soul.”

Resident-driven positive change

Community Heart & Soul, developed by the Orton Family Foundation, is a catalyst for positive change in small cities and towns. By actively seeking the collective wisdom of all residents, including those whose voices are often missing, Community Heart & Soul brings people together to build stronger, healthier, and more economically vibrant communities.

This resident-driven model takes into account both the unique character of a town and the deep emotional connection of the people who live there – a town’s “Heart & Soul.” These collective insights into what truly matters most serve to guide the town in making the best decisions about its future.

Step-by-Step, a Path Forward


Phase 1:  Lay the Groundwork: Build a solid foundation by identifying partners and leaders, spreading the word, and developing a road map for successful Heart & Soul community engagement.

Phase 2:  Explore Your Community: Gather residents’ stories and build relationships across divides. Identify what matters most, which leads to creation of Heart & Soul Statements. Examine how Statements are affected by community trends and conditions.

Phase 3:  Make Decisions: Guided by Heart & Soul Statements, identify options for the future and base decisions on what matters most to everyone and best enhances and preserves the community’s “Heart & Soul.”

Phase 4:  Take Action: Partners and residents work together to take action and ownership. Heart & Soul Statements are applied to future decision-making and become part of the fabric of the community.