Oak Tree 4

The Oak Tree Project was launched in 2014 to demonstrate how philanthropy is changing by engaging communities and strengthening local non-profits.

Building communities where everyone can belong and thrive

For the fourth Oak Tree Project, we celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday by focusing on work that helps individuals feel connected to people, services, and opportunities.

Every day, charities are building communities where everyone can feel that they belong and have the opportunity to thrive as their true selves. Through work in inclusiveness, accessibility, welcoming newcomers, supporting wellbeing, charities are building connections so that everyone can grow stronger and deeper roots here – to us, this is the essence of the Canadian experience, and worth celebrating.

Through Oak Tree Project 4, we wanted to support ideas that make our community an even more welcoming place for everyone.


Comparable to other years, the fourth event followed the same three rounds of participating, storytelling, and voting.


  • The number of stories received in the first round (25%)
  • Quality of questionnaire completed as reviewed by judging panel (40%)
  • The impact of 3 stories selected by charities and reviewed by the judging panel (10%)
  • Quality of finale pitch as judged by everyone at the finale (25%)


Each year, all participating charities leave the event with a cash donation for the amazing work they are doing in our community. This is made possible through the event’s guests, sponsors and supporters. This year, the five finalists all received a cash prize from $1,000 – $5,000.

Additionally, the Judge’s Choice award was given to a non-finalist charity of a minimum of $2,500. The winner was the Guelph Black Heritage Society.

The grand prize winner was Shelldale Family Gateway for their programs that support newcomers to their community.

The four other finalists:

This was another successful event with total donations surpassing $110,000! The event in 2017 raised $25,000 alone, with over 180 attendees and 23 submitted pitches from Guelph-Wellington charities. Beyond the cheque, over 2,000 votes in the form of written, photo, or video endorsements were received, all highlighting the touching impact the nominated charities have had in the community.

Finale Photos