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MIDDLEBURY, VT—The Orton Family Foundation announced today its selection of five communities to receive $100,000 each over two years to pursue a process that will reveal the places and qualities that matter most to residents and make each town special. As part of the Foundation’s Heart & Soul Community Planning grant, the towns will also receive staff support, tools, trainings and other resources.
Studies have demonstrated that residents with the highest level of emotional attachment to their community —of understanding their heart and soul—succeed in attracting investment, fostering a vital cultural life, and embracing the qualities that make people cherish their hometowns.
The five towns showed a clear desire to shake up the status quo, reinvent their planning process and chart a path to renewal. The towns are:
“We are very excited to partner with these communities. The opportunities they offer to increase citizen engagement and steer change based on each town’s articulated heart and soul are unparalleled,” said Bill Roper, President and CEO of the Foundation. “Over the course of these projects, the Foundation will complete development of our Heart & Soul model that will help small towns across America take charge of their futures.”
The Foundation is also pleased to announce that these projects will receive additional financial support from other philanthropic organizations. The Gates Family Foundation in Denver will support the City of Cortez, Colorado; The Montana Community Foundation will support Polson, Montana; The L.P. Brown Foundation will support the North Fork Valley, Colorado; The Vermont Community Foundation will support the Town of Essex and Village of Essex Junction, Vermont.
Selection of these towns is the second phase of the Foundation’s five-year, $10 million Heart & Soul Community Planning initiative to unlock citizens’ potential to bridge differences, define the future and attract investment that supports their heart and soul. The projects are predicated on building a shared expectation for citizen engagement and transparency in local government. Throughout the Heart & Soul process, citizens not only discover and describe what makes their place special; they also share the responsibility for acting on those deeply held attachments and stewarding that vision over time.
For more information on each of the five towns, visit us at http://www.orton.org/projects/current.
Beginning in April, the Orton Family Foundation will begin a guest blog series, Seeking Heart & Soul, featuring stories from each of the new towns. To receive updates on this and other news from the Foundation, join our e-mail list at http://bit.ly/dCrug6. Tweeters can keep up with news about the towns by following @ortonfoundation and using the hashtag #hstowns.
The Orton Family Foundation, based in Middlebury, Vermont and Denver, Colorado, seeks to help small cities and towns discover and describe their heart and soul—the collective attributes that make communities unique—and build on those attributes in planning toward a vibrant, enduring future.