Apply now: Community Heart & Soul® Grant Opportunity Available to Select PA Counties

October 20, 2020

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) invites communities in the Erie Arts & Culture and PA Route 6 Alliance service areas to apply to become a PA Heart & Soul Community. 

Selected communities will receive up to $25,000 over a two-year period from PHC. Selected communities may also be eligible for a $25,000 matching grant from our funding partners at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). (Note: requesting funding from DCED requires a separate application process which must be submitted by the local municipality.)

In addition, selected communities will be matched with a Heart & Soul Coach who will deliver training and provide technical assistance valued at over $50,000 per year. 

Community Heart & Soul®

Community Heart & Soul® is a humanities-based, resident-driven community planning process that cultivates a shared sense of belonging among residents, engages them in thinking critically and creatively about community life and involves them in decision-making and development – all as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy. 

PHC believes people can shape the future of their communities through the power of stories and strong relationships. Key to the process is learning what matters most by gathering hopes and ideas from residents. Story gathering can take many forms, from notes on a chalkboard to in-depth interviews. It all comes together to paint a picture of what matters most to residents. This becomes the basis for building a community’s shared desires, which informs a community’s unique action plan. As a result, communities become more connected, resourceful and resilient

Eligibility Requirements

This opportunity is only open to counties in the Erie Arts & Culture and PA Route 6 Alliance network. Eligible counties include: Crawford, Erie, Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Wyoming,  Lackawanna, Wayne, Pike, Venango, Mercer, and Lawrence. This opportunity is for small towns with populations of 50,000 or under. 

We are inviting proposals from communities that want to enhance planning and development efforts using the humanities-based Community Heart & Soul® process. Attending or watching at least one of the following Community Heart & Soul® informational webinars is required: October 6th (Meadville partners) and October 8th (Williamsport partners).

PHC will support projects at a municipal scale, meaning that applicants must demonstrate commitment from a municipality (city, township, or borough) and at least two local partners. PHC can only accept one application per municipality. Either a municipality or non-profit partner must be prepared to act as the fiscal sponsor of grant funds. 

Local partners will vary widely depending on the community and could include (but are not limited to): local nonprofits, economic development or planning agencies, grassroots community groups, arts and culture organizations, and school districts. Partners must be committed to providing robust resources (human, financial) to the process over a two-year period and demonstrate the capacity to work collaboratively.

Important Dates: 

  • Applications due: November 18, 2020 
  • Shortlisted communities selected for virtual community conversations with selection committee: December 4, 2020
  • Virtual community conversations take place: early January 2021
  • Selected communities notified: by January 22, 2021
  • PA Community Heart & Soul® communities launch work: February 2021 

How To Apply

Communities must apply using PHC’s online system. To learn more about how to prepare your application, watch our recent webinar

Communities should first download the below PDF of the guidelines and application questions and prepare their answers in advance of submitting through the online system.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on November 18, 2020.

Applicants must submit letters of support from the local municipality and any additional partners to demonstrate commitment to the process. Letters of support cannot be submitted using the online system and must be emailed to PHC by the deadline atprogram@pahumanities.orgwith the subject line “Heart & Soul [Community Name].”

For inquiries about the Community Heart & Soul® program and completing your application, please contact Jen Danifo at

For assistance with technical challenges regarding the online application submission process, contact Brandon Woods at

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