Greetings! Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog. The past few weeks, we’ve been looking at community organizations based in and around the Waterloo Region and Wellington County. Today, we turn once more to Guelph, and more specifically, the Guelph Community Foundation. The Guelph Community Foundation will be our focus, but a brief note before diving in: Community Foundations of Canada has 191 member communities across the country (from coast to coast to coast). Through strong networking and leadership initiatives, they support Canadians in creating stronger communities; they’ve been around for nearly a century, and they collectively hold nearly $5 billion in assets. So they’ve got both a positive vision, and the means to bring it to fruition in communities large and small across the country. Alright, let’s get to Guelph!
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The Guelph Community Foundation became a registered charitable public foundation in 1999, and after gathering $13,000 in donations, it got to work in 2000. The first batch of donors, which consisted of both individuals and corporations in and around Guelph, is known as the ‘Founders Circle.’ Guelph Community Foundation Founder and multi-decade Guelph City Councillor Ken Hammill described their underlying motivation like this: they wanted to provide a way for “caring people to fulfill their charitable interests and strengthen our community;” this vision persists to this day (Guelph CF). At present, the Guelph Community Foundation has over 100 funds, and they’ve received over $12 million of donations in various forms (cash, stock, and more). They administer $12.2 million in funds, and have permanently endowed assets of over $8.6 million. You can take a look at their list of funds here.
What They Do
The Guelph Community Foundation is dedicated to making Guelph the best city and community it can be. In order to achieve this goal, they strive to make charitable giving simple, streamlined, and as effective as possible. One way they go about achieving this is through their helpful, detailed, and easy to read guide for prospective donors. It’s available free online – check it out here. You can break down the Guelph Community Foundation’s process of building a strong community into three categories: Donor Engagement, meaning the work they do with donors to optimize their contributions (read about specific Donor Stories here); Granting, meaning the grant funds they provide to various local organizations and initiatives; and Leadership, meaning their efforts to bring people together and spread awareness. To elaborate on the grants, which are indeed one of the Guelph Community Foundation’s primary functions, they vary in focus and eligibility criteria. However, each shares a common theme: the grants are designed to strengthen the community, through both social initiatives and charitable organizations. From supporting the arts to providing scholarships and bursaries, the Guelph Community Foundation’s grants play a vital role in making Guelph great (you can find out more about the grants here).
As we’ve seen, the Guelph Community Foundation is all about the community: building connections between people, and turning Guelph into a better place to live every day. So it’s no surprise that they have several events and community initiatives designed to do just that. We’ll highlight two of them: the first is Random Act of Kindness Day. Of course, the Guelph Community Foundation is always in favour of kindness: but once a year, they designate one day in which Guelph and Wellington residents can really focus on being kind to one another. You can hear it from them, in their own words, in this informative video (click here), but perhaps the best way to understand it is to highlight a few Random Acts of Kindness from years past. These acts took place throughout Guelph, in the year 2012: Breanna gave her bus driver a Tim Card (go Breanna!); L’Ecole L’Odysée students raked leaves (you’d better believe it!); and the University of Guelph gave away cotton candy and flowers and set up a food drive. That’s just a small snapshot of the Random Act of Kindness Day, helpfully captured by the Guelph Review (see the full list here) – surely there were many, many more kind acts throughout Guelph. But speaking of snapshots, let’s move onto the second community initiative: Vital Signs.
In collaboration with Toward Common Ground (a Guelph and Wellington County-based social and health services partnership) and the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute at the University of Guelph (an organization that facilitates engagement and innovation through stronger ties between the University and the community), the Guelph Community Foundation quite recently unveiled their Vital Signs report. Using data and information about the community, Vital Signs provides a window into life in Guelph and Wellington County, and assesses how things are going. This report is extremely well put-together, and it is free to peruse both online and in print (check out the online Vital Signs here). The report breaks down and analyzes numerous data points, under categories ranging from Health and Environment to Economy and Education, and the information is both fascinating and potentially illuminating. Just taking one interesting detail, the Top 5 places of birth for recent immigrants (between 2011-2016) in Guelph were the Philippines, India, China, Eritrea, and Vietnam, whereas the Top 5 for Wellington County were Mexico, Syria, the Philippines, the UK, and India. What Vital Signs proposes to do is provide a snapshot of what’s going on in Guelph and Wellington County, what life is like there, and in doing so, both stimulate conversations and show people where and how they can take action. There’s always room for improvement, and with Vital Signs, the Guelph Community Foundation aims to show which areas could use the most support.
Guelph is considered one of the best cities to live in Ontario – indeed, in all of Canada – and for good reason: it has solid employment and education prospects, it’s close to Toronto but more affordable, it’s safe, and it’s beautiful. The Guelph Community Foundation has an incredible foundation to work with, and through their community initiatives, donor outreach, grants, and overall vision, they’re doing everything they can to make Guelph even better. If you want to get involved, you can check out their ‘5 Ways to Get Involved’ page here. If you want to learn more about Guelph as a city, both its present and its past, please feel free to check out our article on Guelph (click here). And finally, if you’re looking to move to Guelph, or buy a home in Guelph, WRX Property Group would be happy to help you on your journey – please contact us if you’d like to know more, or check out listings here.
Written by Will Kummer