We provide an entirely innovative approach to philanthropy and community-building that is integrated and always-evolving. There are three main components:
First … we consult with municipalities, charitable corporations, school boards, colleges and universities, business improvement areas, economic development offices, and not-for-profit organizations to design projects that will succeed in small cities and rural areas.
Second … we connect continuously with donors, including private companies, individuals, and estate executors, who are passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of others, and would like to start-up and support new, high-impact community projects. Additionally, Andrew Gunn will serve in select circumstances as the Trustee of estates.
Third … we link the right donors and partners with the appropriate projects and organizations, facilitate the funding required, and assist with implementing the project, too.
Throughout this process, we add an interesting twist! Our in-house media outlet, young & free press, features teenagers as journalists who cover local culture and events. This gives us countless opportunities to connect with individuals and businesses wherever we go, and our young journalists develop new ideas to bring to our network of donors and partners! In this way, we involve young people directly in the culture and decision-making that goes into shaping the future of our region. Visit the young & free press website and our Instagram page.
On an ongoing basis, we consult with all parties to ensure the most positive results possible, as well as long-term sustainability and accountability. This is impact philanthropy.
past and current projects
Many of our recent projects have been focussed on urban renewal, as well as providing young people opportunities in small cities and rural areas. Here is a short list:
Street Art Renewal Project in St. Thomas
In collaboration with Railway City Tourism and the STEAM Centre, we arranged for funding to offer a new education program at the STEAM Centre to teach local high school students how to design and execute large-scale street art, including painted murals and digital projections. Railway City Tourism will provide a minimum of $2000 to one student from the 2019-2020 class in order to paint a new mural on a wall in downtown St. Thomas! Our aim is to provide an opportunity for students to gain new skill-sets, get involved in shaping the local culture, and ultimately enhance the street art in the community.
Horton Farmers’ Market
Andrew Gunn has been involved with the renewal of the Horton Farmers’ Market in downtown St. Thomas since 2006. Recently, through a fundraising event hosted by local high school students and additional funding arranged through our company, we supported the addition of new lighting at the Market to allow for the possibility of night markets and other special events.
Forest City Film Festival
The Forest City Film Festival recently launched the new Forest City Youth Film Festival to encourage students in southwestern Ontario to showcase their own films. We arranged funding to establish an award for ‘Best Film’ at the Festival in 2019 and 2020, as well as annual events in St. Thomas to encourage students from St. Thomas and Elgin County to participate. The purpose of this project is to provide more opportunities in the arts for local youth.
Great Lakes Game Day
Working in conjunction with the School of Digital and Performing Arts at Fanshawe College, the Thames Valley District School Board, and the STEAM Centre, we organized this one-day event to provide high school students in St. Thomas with the opportunity to play-test video games designed by students enrolled in the Game Design program at Fanshawe in downtown London. The purpose was to connect local high school students to the program at Fanshawe, and highlight St. Thomas as a potential location for future game designers and gaming events. We hosted the Game Day at the St. Thomas / Elgin Regional Campus of Fanshawe.
GROW Pop-Up Shop
Like many downtown areas in small cities, St. Thomas has a number of empty storefronts; at the same time, there are many entrepreneurs who wonder what having a retail space would be like. We put these pieces of the puzzle together and established a pop-up shop that provides a free space for start-up business owners to showcase new products and services. This pilot project was launched in summer 2019 in collaboration with the St. Thomas / Elgin Regional Campus of Fanshawe College and the Elgin / St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre.
Railway City Little Free Libraries
This is likely our quirkiest project, and also one of our favourites! Andrew Gunn and Maddie King have been gradually mapping St. Thomas and giving unofficial names to every neighbourhood in the City. We have shared this through our ongoing Instagram series called ‘Andrew & Maddie Map St. Thomas’ presented by Railway City Tourism and Hayhoe Homes. Additionally, we are working with faculty and students at the St. Thomas Elgin Regional Campus of Fanshawe College to design and build a ‘little free library’ box for every neighbourhood! This ambitious project has been generously funded by a number of local donors.
There are lots of other projects happening, and new ones coming together all the time! Follow along with Andrew Gunn on Twitter @agconsultinginc
PHOTO: Andrew Gunn, Maddie King and Emily Stage of Andrew Gunn Consulting / young & free press stand with Megan Pickersgill of Railway City Tourism and graphic designer Amanda DeVries to highlight the new ‘Railway City Neighbourhoods Map’ that has been developed as part of the Railway City Little Free Libraries project. Andrew and Maddie came up with names for each neighbourhood in St. Thomas in order to dig into the past – and future – of the City.
bio + contact info
Every great project begins with a conversation! Please feel free to get in touch with Andrew Gunn directly. In most cases, Andrew will arrange a time to meet with you, and will be joined by our Vice-President of Youth Engagement & Strategy, Maddie King.
ANDREW GUNN is a graduate of Queen's University and McMaster University. In recent years, he has participated in the development of a series of significant community projects in southwestern Ontario through consulting on estate giving, volunteering, as well as working in the advancement office and teaching agriculture and business at Fanshawe College.
MADDIE KING is currently a high school student at Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas, where she is a strong student and also competes on the wrestling team. She is one of our teenage journalists at young & free press and develops many of our social media concepts.
PHOTO: Terry Carroll, Executive Director of the Elgin – St. Thomas Community Foundation, and Joe Preston, Mayor of St. Thomas, joined Maddie King and Emily Stage of Andrew Gunn Consulting to ‘light up the market’ for the first time in August 2019.