Applicant Details & Scoring

ARC State Program Manager Comments

Back to List of Applicants


PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.

Total Qualifying Score: 7
County (ARC Region): Yes
State (ARC Region): Yes
Q3. IRS Status: Nonprofit – 2
Q4. Parent Entity: No – 1
Q5. 2 or More Full-Time Employees : Yes (as of 12/31/2019)
Q7. Budget Level: Above $1.5 million up to $3 million – 2 (Last Fiscal Year Actual Income)
Q8. Restricted Reserves: No – 1
Q9. CARES Act Funding: No – 1
Q13. Participation by Executive: Yes


PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.
Russell, Warren County, Pennsylvania 16345

County (ARC Region) Warren
State (ARC Region) Pennsylvania


Q1. Mission:

The PA Wilds Center’s mission is to integrate conservation and economic development to strengthen and inspire rural communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds. PA Wilds Center is the state’s external lead nonprofit for the PA Wilds Conservation Landscape, a collaborative effort that aims to grow nature and heritage tourism across the 13-county PA Wilds region to create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship and improve quality of life. In this role, the Center works with local, state and national partners to help coordinate outreach and investments in the landscape-level PA Wilds strategy by a wide variety of public and private-sector partners. PA Wilds Center manages all of the PA Wilds programs, services and platforms to benefit communities and businesses; and houses core stakeholder structures tied to the regional strategy, such as the PA Wilds Planning Team, a 50-plus member group created in 2006 under a ground-breaking Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement. The Center’s work is sustained through partnerships, program fees, philanthropic giving, grants, and entrepreneurial activities related to the Pennsylvania Wilds brand.

Q2. How organization aligns with ARC’s Plan & Goals:

Among its most visible work, PA Wilds Center has established and is scaling an entrepreneurial ecosystem to incubate creativity and innovation and marshal resources and connections to help rural entrepreneurs succeed.
The PA Wilds entrepreneurial ecosystem is built around a place-based brand, the Pennsylvania Wilds, a designated tourism region of Pennsylvania known for its public lands, outdoor experiences, maker culture, stewardship ethic and rural lifestyle. The ecosystem is rooted in the larger PA Wilds Conservation Landscape, a 15-year partnership effort that is helping revitalize the 13-county PA Wilds region by growing nature tourism to create jobs, inspire stewardship, diversify local economies and improve quality of life. Our ecosystem includes several components:  
A trademarked logo and brand licensed in ways that support the brand’s values, rural businesses and communities, and the mission of the PA Wilds Center; 
Destination and lifestyle marketing to drive physical and online visitation to the region and support stewardship messaging (, related social media channels, media placements); 
A network of businesses and organizations involved in the PA Wilds products/experience, called The Wilds Cooperative of PA (, and resources to help this network succeed (including referrals to PA’s robust business service provider network, business-to-business referrals, etc.);
Regional commerce infrastructure to help rural entrepreneurs in The Wilds Cooperative access markets and to address gaps in visitor capacity (includes brick-and-mortar PA Wilds Conservation Shops and a soon-to-launch online PA Wilds-branded marketplace). This commerce infrastructure includes a charity checkout campaign that raises funds for PA Wilds state park/forest improvements (state parks/forests are a major visitor draw in the PA Wilds).
A PA Wilds Media Lab, a business accelerator with tools, technologies and classroom space to support this ecosystem and the hundreds of entrepreneurs currently involved (opens 2022).
Our place-based brand has applications related to visitation, small business development, product development, workforce, conservation, stewarding and enhancing community character, building pride of place and population retention.
Our entrepreneurial ecosystem creates the tools, technologies, processes, systems and relationships that allow a wide variety of stakeholders to take action across these applications. All parts of the ecosystem are built to reinforce the others.   
This ecosystem has winning results that include community participation in the ecosystem, business start-ups and expansions, job creation, increased sales of rural products and services, stewardship giving, regional visitor spending, and website visitation. 
With all of the major parts of the ecosystem identified and successfully piloted, the Center is now working to scale the ecosystem from one unit of the Conservation Shop to six units, launching an online marketplace for rural entrepreneurs to sell directly to consumers under the PA Wilds brand, beefing up marketing efforts, and growing business participation in the ecosystem.  
If the Center is able to achieve its goals, its projections show that over the next 20 years, this ecosystem will: 

Move more than $30M in local products and services, helping rural entrepreneurs access new markets and thrive
Have more than 2000 rural business and community partners participating
Create 1300 jobs
Raise more than $2M for conservation through charity checkout campaigns (for reinvestment in PA Wilds state parks and forests)
Serve 25M visitors

This ecosystem work directly advances ARC’s Goals 1, 4 and 5 across a large, 13-county swath of Northern Appalachia. ARC is a longtime partner in the PA Wilds effort. It has invested in the PA Wilds Center directly through grants and also funded aligned projects alongside it that advance the regional PA Wilds strategy. The Center’s EVP of Operations, Abbi Peters, is participating in the 2021 Appalachian Leadership Institute.

Q3. IRS Filing Status: 501(c)(3)   

Q4. Unit or Chapter of Larger Organization: No

Q5. Employees:

Full-Time/Part-Time Employees: 6/9 (as of 9/1/2020)

Full-Time/Part-Time Employees: 5/9 (as of 12/31/2019)

Current Year Income/Expenses: $1,440,0847.95/$1,507,546.08

Q6. Fiscal Year: Calendar

Q7. Budget Level

Last Fiscal Year Income/Expenses (Actual): $1,507,546.08 / $707,578.26

Current Year Income/Expenses (Projected): $1,440,0847.95 / $1,507,546.08

Q8. Restricted Reserves (Amount): No ($)

Q9. CARES Act Funding (Amount): No ($)
Received From:   Date Received:
For What Purpose(s):

Q10. Negative Impacts from COVID-19:

PA Wilds Center has from its founding pursued a braided revenue strategy. This approach has definitely helped the nonprofit weather storms, including COVID-19. That said, we took some hits. These include:
As part of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, PA Wilds Center operates brick-and-mortar gift shops selling all local products at select state parks in the region. These shops hit multiple mission marks for us and are also an important revenue stream that supports our operation across a highly rural landscape the size of Massachusetts. We had to close our gift shop operations during COVID for a period of months due to state mandates, resulting in lost revenues. Since re-opening, revenues are strong but not as strong as projected due to limitations on the number of customers that can be in our shops at a given time. In addition, we lost some anticipated state grant funding that for many years has supported the small business development aspects of our mission.

Q11. Top Three Concerns:
Keeping staff safe and healthy (this is actually more important than funding but the risk is lower, so we put it at #2)
Uncertainty about how COVID will impact our nonprofit’s operations in future, as well as our value chain of small rural businesses.

How Participation in Program Will Address Concerns:

We don’t have control over a lot of things in this pandemic, but one thing we do have control over is how we prepare and respond. To us, taking the Fundraising course through ARC’s Nonprofit Resource Center is a great way to prepare for future uncertainty. Creating a Development Plan has been on our to-do list, but as a young nonprofit we have not yet been able to tackle it. Now is a great time to do that, especially given that this course would connect us to experts and a peer group to help guide and support our effort.


Q12. Applying as a Proposed Cohort? No

Q13. Executive Director or CEO Will Participate in the Program? Yes

Q14. Top Two Choices for Cohort Instruction:

Course #1 Choice: 1-Fundraising

Course #2 Choice: 2-Long-term Financial Management

Q15. Desired Course Schedule for Cohort Instruction:

#1 Desired Course Schedule: 1-Winter 2021: 10-Week Course (Jan. 25. 2021 – Apr. 4, 2021)

#2 Desired Course Schedule: 2-Winter 2021 B: 5-Week Course (Mar. 1, 2021-April 4, 2021)


Name: Julie Iaquinto, EVP Finance

Application Approved by Organization Director or CEO? Yes, Approved by Executive Director/CEO

ARC State Program Managers Review
ARC State Program Managers: Please use the form below to submit your comments regarding this applicant.
(This is a read-only field displaying the name of the applicant organization you are reviewing)
(Select your name from the drop-down field above)