Our Mission

What We Believe 

The Orton Family Foundation's mission is to empower people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of each place.

What We Do 

We achieve our mission by assisting the residents of small cities and towns in the use of the Community Heart & Soul® method, a barn-raising approach to community planning and development designed to increase participation in local decision-making and empower residents to shape the future of their communities in a way that upholds the unique character of each place.

Why We Do This

We do this because we firmly believe that communities are at their best when all citizens have a say in their future, and when they experience the benefits of working together toward common goals grounded in their emotional attachment to a place. This approach touches real people, solves real problems, improves quality of life, and results in stronger communities with more vibrant economies. 

What we offer:

  • Community Heart & Soul a unique community planning and development model distinguished by its emphasis on resident-driven action led by what matters most to the community.
  • Resources designed to help your community engage as many residents as possible and make informed decisions for positive change.
  • Orton Staff expertise, support and guidance.
  • CommunityMatters® brings together leading experts and a growing network of community leaders through conference calls and webinars focused on topics critical to building stronger communities. 
  • Heart & Soul Talks is a bi-monthly conference call series focused on how to put Community Heart & Soul to work in your town. 
  • Heart & Soul Training is  a quarterly series of indepth webinars about Orton's barn-raising approach to community development and planning. Each training takes a deep dive into the phases and steps of the method that has transformed rural towns and small cities with broad engagement that uncovers what matters most to residents.

What Heart & Soul® can do for you:

  • If you’re a community volunteer…

Heart & Soul helps you play a leading role in harnessing the energy of your fellow residents to make thoughtful decisions that reflect the character of your community.

  • If you’re an elected official…

Heart & Soul uses the strengths of your town to uncover practical, broadly supported solutions to local problems.

  • If you’re a planner…

Heart & Soul engages residents and applies ground-tested tools and resources to planning processes.

  • If you’re a local business owner…

Heart & Soul invites you to become a leader who takes action for the mutual benefit of your business and the community.

  • If you’re an economic development practitioner…

Heart & Soul opens doors to untapped energy that fuels the restoration of a community’s local assets and offerings.

  • If you’re an interested organization or collaborator…

Heart & Soul offers groundbreaking tools, connections and resources to make the work you’re doing have a greater impact.

Learn more!

Check out What We Do to find out how our Heart & Soul Methodology can help your town, and learn about the towns that are using it now.