About us

People, Place, positive change

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 develop a community development model that 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, recognizes the value in the unique character of each place, and the deep emotional connection of the people who live there.

Download the Field Guide

A Catalyst for Positive Change

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. Because the model is resident-driven, Community Heart & Soul builds stronger, healthier, and more vibrant small cities and towns based on what matters most to everyone.

Our team

What we offer

Community Heart & Soul

Community Heart & Soul is a tested and proven community development model that's resident-driven. Towns with projects underway join of a network of Heart & Soul communities across the country.

Heart & Soul Talks

Lively, informative talks and webinars with leading experts on timely topics related to community development.


Our Field Guide, Resources, and Tools inform and guide you every step of the way.

Heart & Soul Training

Practical "how to" on the model and best practices for delivering it.

Orton Staff

Our mission-driven staff is devoted to building brighter futures for small cities and towns.

Together we can do more

"Our partnership with Orton has changed the way the Community Foundation does business in a powerful way by making our grant-making less transactional and more transformational."
Julie Brown, past Program Director, Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation

We recognize and value the power of partnerships in furthering our mission to bring Community Heart & Soul, a tested and proven model, to small cities and towns across the country. We work with community foundations, humanities councils, state agencies, and independent coaches to get projects up and running.

Learn more about partnerships

Community Heart & Soul with Lyman Orton

Heart & Soul Minute: Ed McMahon on Tapping Local Wisdom for Positive Change

Guided by Community Heart & Soul in Golden, Colorado


Discover Community Heart & Soul today

Why wait? Let us help you discover your town’s Heart & Soul and get you on the
path to building a community that is stronger, healthier and more economically vibrant!

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