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Friday, September 14, 2018

Pennsylvania Humanities Council and Partners Bring $65,000 in Funding, Training and Technical Support To Cameron County

Emporium, (Sept. 18, 2018)—The Pennsylvania Humanities Council has partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and Orton Family Foundation to support Cameron County along the path to becoming a stronger, healthier and more vibrant community through a humanities-based approach to community development.

“We’re really excited to officially be cultivating Community Heart and Soul in Cameron County!” said Jess Herzing, Project Coordinator for The Cameron County Project. “The resources, training and funding we’re receiving from our friends at the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Orton Family Foundation, and DCED will help our project accomplish our goals of encouraging resident engagement, meeting with our neighbors, where they are, to hear their stories of what makes Cameron County such a special place to live and help us develop local volunteers with unmatched skills in facilitation and community pride building.”

Through this unique partnership among a government agency, a statewide nonprofit and a national foundation, PHC and Orton Family Foundation will provide training and technical support worth an estimated $60,000 to the county. In addition, The Cameron County Project has received $5,000 in combined funding from PHC and DCED, for a total investment valued at $65,000.

“The humanities are a valuable tool for community and economic development in Pennsylvania,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC’s executive director. “We see so much positive change as residents build relationships, honor their homegrown talents and assets, and reclaim and reshape their communities.”

Since 2015, PHC and Orton have been working together to bring Community Heart & Soul®, a community development model pioneered by Orton, to communities across Pennsylvania. This month Cameron County, along with Upper Chichester, join the towns of Carlisle, Meadville and Williamsport, which have Community Heart & Soul projects underway.

“This alignment of interests: the humanities, the community and the economy makes perfect sense. We all share a common goal—building communities that are stronger culturally, socially and economically. We look forward to seeing positive change unfold as the residents of Cameron County embark on Community Heart & Soul,” said David Leckey, executive director Orton Family Foundation.

About the Cameron County Project

The Cameron County Project’s mission is to encourage resident engagement and community pride by focusing on the themes in our community that unite residents and highlighting them through a campaign of storytelling and resident-driven visioning. Since launching the grassroots resident engagement project in October 2017, completing a county-wide visioning survey using the Community Heart & Soul method and producing a community action report highlighting what residents value about Cameron County and how residents would like to see their values honored, developed or capitalized-on has been the primary goal. Through the process of completing this goal, we hope to encourage residents to re-engage with their communities, rebuild trust by ensuring residents feel heard, and encourage new voices in Cameron County to create and implement change that highlights residents’ values. 

This is a special limited-term project of the Cameron County Community Chest, who provides the project with the most amazing resources, guidance and oversight. They are a 501 (c) 3 dedicated to serving Cameron County. For more information or to get involved with the project please visit

About the Pennsylvania Humanities Council

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) puts the humanities in action to create positive change. PHC programs and grants bring Pennsylvanians together to build avenues for civic involvement and community development, and for youth and adult learners to strengthen skills for school, work, and personal improvement. An independent partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, PHC is part of a network of 56 state humanities councils that spans the nation and U.S. jurisdictions. Learn more at

About the Orton Family Foundation and Community Heart & Soul

The Orton Family Foundation is focused on building stronger, healthier, and more economically vibrant small cities and towns across America. Founded in Vermont in 1995, the foundation devoted more than a decade to working with small towns to create a community development model that helps build trust and empowers residents to shape the future of their communities. Community Heart & Soul® projects are underway across the country creating positive change that is resident-driven and recognizes the value in the unique character of each place and the emotional connection of the people who live there. For more information visit

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