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Creative Communities Initiative

Download the 2024 Creative Communities Initiative application guidelines and directions for submitting a Letter of Interest (PDF) here. 
(Note: The 2024 call for Letters of Interest closed as of December 1, 2023 at 5 p.m. EST.)

Download the 2023 - 2024 CCI reimbursement request form here.

About the Creative Communities Initiative 

The Creative Communities Initiative (CCI) provides multi-year funding for place-based, community-driven, arts-based projects that serve as catalysts for social cohesion, livability, and community and economic development. Commonly referred to as creative placemaking, these projects are rooted in deep community engagement and authentically engage artists, culture bearers, designers, and community members through conversation, cultivation, and creation activities to address community needs, challenges, and opportunities.

Creative placemaking explicitly works to solve problems or take on a sticky challenge in our communities. Working together, artists, residents, grasstops and grassroots organizations identify community needs and create innovative solutions to the issues at hand.- LISC, Creative Placemaking Toolkit

What are the requirements of CCI projects?

  • Projects must be place-based.
  • Projects are managed by at least two community organizations, one of which serves as the lead applicant.
  • The lead applicant organization must be a unit of government, nonprofit (501(c)3 or 501(c)6 organization).
  • The lead applicant organization must be located in the community.
  • Projects have the support of the community's local government via an adopted resolution and pledge of at least 10% of matching funds (in-kind or cash).

What makes a great CCI project?

The PCA recognizes that each community is unique with its own history, traditions, assets (people and places), traumas and triumphs, and opportunities, and challenges. For this reason, CCI projects are also unique to each community. Successful projects are of, by, and for the community and can utilize any artistic discipline to create change by addressing a wide variety of community issues including, but not limited to, economic development, the environment, safety, transportation, housing, health, beautification, social justice, and social cohesion.

Key elements of successful CCI projects:

  • Projects are of, by, and for the community.
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.
  • Projects that include, amplify, and support diverse populations that have been historically marginalized, misrepresented, and ignored.
  • Projects are community-driven employing deep and inclusive community engagement practices throughout the project.
  • Authentically engage artists, designers, and culture bearers in planning and implementation of projects.
  • Strength of the partnering organizations. Partners have shared values and can demonstrate a history of successful collaborations to execute impactful community work.
  • Projects have a beneficial impact on the community.
  • Projects engage existing community assets (people and places).
  • Partners leverage additional sources of funding (government, private sector, foundation).

Arts, culture, and design can help to strengthen communities by: 

  • Bringing new attention to or elevate key community assets and issues, voices of residents, local history, or cultural infrastructure. 
  • Injecting new or additional energy, resources, activity, people, or enthusiasm into a place, community issue, or local economy. 
  • Envisioning new possibilities for a community or place – a new future, a new way of overcoming a challenge, or approaching problem-solving. 
  • Connecting communities, people, places, and economic opportunity via physical spaces or new relationships. 

– National Endowment for the Arts

Program Contact Information

If you are interested in learning more about the Creative Communities Initiative, contact Sarah Merritt, Director of Pennsylvania Creative Communities and the Creative Economy at


Current Creative Communities Projects:

Project location: Sharon, Mercer County
Project title: Valley Fab Lab
Project period: 2020 - 2024
Project description: Implementation, and programming of a community, arts-based, co-work, micro-business incubator, and retail space, with an emphasis on serving community members with physical and intellectual disabilities and veterans. The Valley Fab Lab, a partnership of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce, Whole Life Services, Gannon University Small Business Development Center, Random Acts of Artists, and the City of Sharon, provides access to equipment, training, retail opportunities, small business development, and creative entrepreneur support.
Lead partner: Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce
Project partners: Whole Life Services, Gannon University Small Business Development Center, Random Acts of Artists, City of Sharon

Project location: Meadville, Crawford County
Project title: ARC Community Greenspace
Project period: 2020 - 2024
Project description: Transformation of a vacant lot, located in Meadville's historic business district, into an inclusive community greenspace. The greenspace will include community-designed public art, environmental interventions to address stormwater management and Mill Creek daylighting, and planning and implementation of community arts activities. The focus of the project is to support and advance inclusion and community connectedness for community members with physical and developmental disabilities.
Lead partner: The ARC of Crawford County
Project partners: Art & Environment, City of Meadville, Allegheny College, Meadville Council on the Arts
Project location: Lancaster City, Lancaster County
Project title: Seed Project 
Project period: 2020 - 2024
Project description: A partnership of the Spanish American Civic Association, Millersville University, artists and organizations of the Seed Project, and Lancaster City, the project supports community-based arts programming in the Southeast neighborhood of Lancaster. The project employs a team of artists representative of the predominately Latinx, African American, and refugee community members to work with neighborhood residents to identify and address community opportunities and challenges to inform and implement community-lead artworks and projects and identify and cultivate new collaborations. 
Lead partner: Spanish American Civic Association (SACA)
Project partners: Millersville University, Seed Project, The Mix at Arbor Place, The Taino Cultural Center, Lancaster Equity, School District of Lancaster, Boys and Girls Club, TCP Network, Mustafa Nuur, Thaddeus Stevens College, LGBTQ+ Coalition, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Communications Essentials, Church World Services, Speak to My Soul/Concrete Rose, Southeast Times, We are Casa, and Community Action Partnership

Project location: Mifflin Square Park/7th Street Corridor, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
Project title: Community Development Projects
Project period: 2020 - 2024
Project description: Located in one of Philadelphia's most diverse neighborhoods and centered on Mifflin Square Park and the 7th Street business corridor, the partners, in collaboration with community members and elders to plan and execute community-lead public art projects and infuse art and design into neighborhood infrastructure and business improvements. The project embraces the neighborhood's diverse cultures to inform public art installations with wayfinding signage to tie the commercial corridor to the park. Additionally, the project includes creative programs that engage neighborhood youth and elders with the goal of building a stronger sense of place.
Lead partner: Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition (SEAMAAC)
Project partners: Hip Hop Heritage, Mural Arts Philadelphia

Project location: Allentown, Lehigh County
Project title: The Artist-Neighbor Growth & Opportunity Project
Project period: 2021 - 2025
Project description: In partnership with the Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown (CADCA) and working with local artists, creative entrepreneurs, and youth the project builds from 5 years of community engagement, research, and pilot programs in the center city region of Allentown. The Artist-Neighbor Growth & Opportunity Project (TANGO) is committed to providing artistic and cultural solutions to urban challenges including poverty, housing, and quality of life in the city through a 4-pronged strategy over the next 4 years addressing: Affordable Quality Housing, Creative Economy & Entrepreneurship, cultural Infrastructure and Community Building.
Lead partner: Lehigh Valley Arts & Cultural Alliance
Project partners: Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown, City of Allentown

Project location: Indiana, Indiana County
Project title: Creative Spaces Collective
Project period: 2021 - 2025
Project description: Led by the Creative Spaces Collective of Indiana County, a network of local arts organizations, artists, and community members, the project supports local artist development, community arts education activities, and community-driven public art projects through an artist peer partnership program and community programming to foster social cohesion, local artist capacity building, and community pride. 
Lead partner: Indiana County Commissioners Office of Planning & Development
Project partners: Creative Spaces Collective, Spruce Arts Residencies, Indiana Arts Council of Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Artists Hand Gallery, Clark Gallery, Dripped in the Road, River Valley School District, Blairsville Borough Council, Blairsville Community Development Authority, and the Indiana County Conservation District

Project location: Corry, Erie County
Project title: Corry Rails + Trails Park and Downtown Business Corridor project
Project period: 2021 - 2025
Project description: The development of the Corry Rails + Trails Park and enhancement of the downtown Corry business corridor to include community-driven public art (permanent and temporary), local artist design infrastructure elements, an annual festival, and support programs to attract, support, and retain creative small businesses to the community. The focus of the projects is the celebration and promotion of the community's industrial heritage, spirit of innovative entrepreneurship, and resiliency.
Lead partner: Impact Corry
Project Partners: City of Corry, Corry Blues Zones, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, City of Corry, Corry Chamber of Commerce, Corry Area Arts Council, Corry Area School District, Corry Area Historical Society, Corry Community Foundation, Corry RAILS, Corry Young Professionals, Downtown Corry Business Association, Edinboro University, Erie Arts & Culture, Erie County Department of Planning, Erie County Housing Department, Erie to Pittsburgh & Industrial Trails Coalition, Integrated Design, Jefferson Educational Society, Northwestern PA Trail Association, Penn State Behrend, Village Friends

Project location: Hill District, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Project title: New Granada Square
Project period: 2021 - 2025
Project description: Leveraging the Hill District's community-driven masterplan, which calls for building upon the African American cultural legacy to create a clear economic future for the neighborhood, the Hill CDC and its partners will implement arts-strategies to support and promote a vibrant arts and culture economy in the district by providing affordable artist housing and commercial space, connecting generations through its rich cultural history, supporting and cultivating local talent, and weaving African American culture into the built environment.
Lead partner: Hill Community Development Corporation
Project partners: City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, #ArtsinHD, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, University of Pittsburgh

Project location: Reading, Berks County
Project title: South of Penn Creative Placekeeping
Project period: 2022 - 2026
Project description: In the predominately Latinx neighborhood, South of Penn, support for a creative placemaking projects manager to lead a series of community-driven programs including public art workshops (Explorations in the Art Form), community photography (Beauty Through Their Eyes), community performances, art activities in a community park, Storytelling Through Dance, and the Microbusiness Art Engagement project.
Lead partner: Barrio Alegria
Project partners: The South of Penn Taskforce, Wyomissing Foundation, Reading Public Library, City of Reading, Reading Redevelopment Authority

Project location: Berwick, Columbia County
Project title: Berwick Arts District
Project period: 2022 - 2026
Project description: A collaboration of community organizations and local artists for the planning and implementation of Berwick Arts District activated through community art activities, public art installations, live performances, community greenspace beautification, artful façade improvements, and training youth and local artists in public art best practices.
Lead partner: Community Giving Foundation: Berwick Arts Association
Partner organizations: Berwick Theatre & Arts Center, Community Strategies Group, Exchange Arts, Destination Listening Room

Project location: Southern York County (Glen Rock, Railroad, New Freedom, and Seven Valleys)
Project Title: York County Trail Towns
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: The York County Trail Towns project will to activate small, rural communities along the York County Heritage Rail Trail through creative placemaking projects that encourage visitors (over 500,000/year) to get off of the trail and explore the Trail Towns. Projects include storefront art installations, temporary and permanent public art, and community art projects and activities.
Lead partner: York County Economic Alliance
Project partners: York County Trail Towns, Cultural Alliance of York County, York County Parks Department, York County Rail Trail Authority, Trail Towns municipalities

Project location: Brownsville, Fayette County
Project title: Partners for Creative Economy Creative Leadership Program
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: This project brings a creative placemaking/community engagement expert to Brownsville to work with community members and provide guidance and leadership development to implement creative placemaking and heritage tourism in the community.
Lead partner: Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation
Project partners: Borough of Brownsville, The Perennial Project, Brownsville Area School District, Fayette County/Greater Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, National Road Heritage Corridor, Brownsville Area Revitalization Corporation, Brownsville Historical Society

Project location: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
Project title: Second Story Collective
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: Writers Room works in the neighborhoods to bring together community members (youth and older residents), and Drexel students and faculty into productive conversation through storytelling and collection through creative writing. Through this creative practice, Writers Room and residents created a co-living project to foster community connectedness between students and residents and tackle the problems of inequitable development and displacement.  Creative Communities Initiative funds will be used for a Community Arts Fellow who will work with the community to plan and implement creative placemaking project to amplify, promote and celebrate the community.
Lead partner: Writers Room at Drexel University
Project partners: Lomax Real Estate Partners, Mantua Civic Association, Powelton Civic Association, Barra Foundation, Drexel's Department of Architecture & Urbanism, YouthBuild Philadelphia, Tiny WPA, People's Emergency Center, PA Department of Aging, and Americorps

Project location: Lewisburg, Union County
Project title: Piers Art Park
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: The Piers Art Park is the activation of a large vacant lot with a series of old railroad bridge piers as a key architectural feature. The park is bordered by Bull Run Creek and connected to the recently finished Rail Trail. Project activities include community events, art and dance classes, and temporary and permanent public art projects.
Lead partner: Lewisburg Downtown Partnership
Project partners: Lewisburg Arts Council, Lewisburg Neighborhoods, CommUnity Zone, Borough of Lewisburg, Bucknell University, Lewisburg School District, Lewisburg Neighborhoods

Project location: Butler, Butler County
Project title: Butler Cultural District
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: Establishment of a geographically defined Cultural District in the City of Butler, building on existing cultural assets. The project creates a platform and governance structure for organizations and businesses to collaborate in the creation of wayfinding signage, environmental and artistic visual enhancements, district marketing, and event planning and implementation.
Lead partner: Butler Rotary Foundation
Project partners: Rotary Club of Butler, Slippery Rock University, Butler Downtown, Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau, Butler Area School District, Maridon Museum, and City of Butler

Project location: State College, Centre County
Project title: The Multicultural Rural Arts District and Residency Program
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: The Multicultural Rural Arts District and Residency Program will build a distributed hub-and-spoke arts district that leverages an artist residency program to link the rural Centre County communities. The project will invest in placemaking infrastructure improvements to increase community participation at a network of creative rural locations, while highlighting local, diverse resources, creatives, and communities.
Lead partner: 3 Dots Downtown
Project partners: State College Downtown Improvement District, Centre County Commissioners, Centre Foundation, Rhoneymeade, Centre Film Festival, Bellefonte Downtown Development, Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, Discovery Space, The Rivet, Co.Space, and The Warehouse.

Project location: Dickson City Borough, Lackawanna County
Project title: Dickson City Borough Public Art Program
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: Community engagement, planning, and implementation of strategically located public art projects to include murals, site improvements, a main gateway project, and public art at the Train Station Grounds in a community that currently has no visible public art.
Lead partner: Dickson City Borough
Project partners: Lackawanna Arts and Culture, PA DCNR Regional Advisor, Lackawanna County Tourism Bureau, and Lackawanna County Chamber of Commerce.

Project location: Erie, Erie County
Project title: The East Bayfront Greenway Engagement Project
Project period: 2023 - 2027
Project description: In an area that, in the past was home to many German, Polish, and Irish immigrants, and is now home to residents from Syria, Bhutan, Nepal, the Congo, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, along with other countries, the East Bayfront Greenway Engagement Project will honor the history, diversity, and heritage of the residents and establish the area as a neighborhood. This project includes community-driven public art and artist-designed native landscaping, activation of vacant lots, wayfinding signage, and community events.
Lead partner: Erie Neighborhood Growth Partnership
Project partners: City of Erie, Erie Redevelopment Authority, Bayfront East Side Taskforce, ServErie, Snoops Neighborhood Watch, Hamot Health Foundation, Erie Insurance, Primary Health Network

CCI Cultivation Grants

Creative Communities Cultivation Grants are designed to advance the efficacy and reach of the Creative Communities Initiative by providing one-time grants for communities to implement a component of a larger arts-based community and economic development project.

Cultivation Grantees:

  • Adams County Arts Council -- Gettysburg, Adams County
  • Riverlife -- Allegheny County
  • North Braddock Borough -- North Braddock, Allegheny County 
  • Upstream Pittsburgh -- Allegheny County
  • Borough of Ambridge -- Ambridge, Beaver County 
  • Butler Rotary Foundation -- Butler, Butler County 
  • 3 Dots Downtown -- Centre County (county-wide project) 
  • Erie Neighborhood Growth Partnership -- Erie, Erie County 
  • National Road Heritage Corridor -- Uniontown, Fayette County
  • Dickson City Borough Council -- Dickson City, Lackawanna County 
  • Diamond City Partnership -- Wilkes Barre, Luzerne County 
  • Kane Area Chamber of Commerce -- Kane, McKean County 
  • Greater Easton Development Partnership -- Easton, Northampton County 
  • Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University -- Philadelphia, Philadelphia County 
  • Friends of the Rail Park -- Philadelphia, Philadelphia County 
  • Potter County Board of Commissioners -- Potter County (county-wide project) 
  • City of Pottsville -- Pottsville, Schuylkill County 
  • Arc Human Services, Inc. -- Canonsburg, Washington County 
  • Wayne County Community Foundation -- Wayne County (county-wide project)

  • Resources on Creative Placemaking
    National Endowment for the Arts
    Americans for the Arts
    ArtPlace America