Stories from the Elevator Project

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09 November

Hey all! Did you happen to catch us in the Guelph Mercury on November 13, 2013? If you didn’t and you’d like to know more about The Elevator Project, we’ve included the article below.

Community group seeks ideas to make Guelph a better place

GUELPH — A newly-formed local community partnership is offering to fund residents’ ideas in hopes of making Guelph a better place to live.

Want to build a community garden on the end of your street? Hoping to turn a large grassy area in the city into a pollinator habitat? Looking to run a workshop series on the ins and outs of raising chickens in your backyard? The Elevator Project was created specifically to fulfill these types of ambitious endeavors.

Originally called the Guelph Community Innovation Connection, The Elevator Project is a collaboration between 10 Carden, the City of Guelph, the Guelph Community Health Centre and Innovation Guelph. Together, this group is looking to take local ideas and make them a reality by providing funding, materials, experts and whatever other resources the ideas might need to take off.

“We’re welcoming ideas from anyone and anywhere,” Gabrielle Clermont, the project’s community animator, said. The goal is to collect 50 ideas over the next three months before the first round of funding is handed out in January. Of these 50, around five ideas may be accepted and supported.

The collaboration held a “soft launch” earlier this year in June, while it was still operating under its former name. A more official Elevator Project launch will take place on Thursday, when MPP and Minister of Education Liz Sandals presents the group with a $135,700 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. This money will be used to support the process over a three-year term and allow the collaboration to hire Clermont to oversee the project.

The funding to fuel each individual idea will come from a variety of sources, said Jamie Doran, chief operating officer of Innovation Guelph. The City of Guelph is investing $50,000 toward the project, to be dispensed in January. Local businesses and investors may also put money down to fund ideas.

“It’s kind of drawing money from whatever sources make sense for that particular project,” he said, adding individual ideas will likely be funded through a mixture of private and public sources.

Doran said Innovation Guelph is connected with many businesses that would like to give back to the community, but are unsure which projects to get involved in. “The Elevator Project is going to help identify those,” he said.

Barbara Powell, the city’s general manager for community engagement and social services liaison, said the city’s input is coming out of the councilor approved community investment strategy.

“The idea was a little bit like a Dragon’s Den,” she said. “There’s lots of great ideas in Guelph, and lots of very committed philanthropists and funders, and could we somehow create a process to bring those two together; that’s The Elevator Project.”

Outside of the provincial funding announcement, the event on Thursday is also aimed at locating potential investors who would be interested in putting their assets toward ideas.

Clermont said The Elevator Project is not just about giving out money for good ideas. The process is aimed at supporting projects with connections, materials, knowledge and expertise, as well as the financial means. Investors who feel they have something to offer are invited to attend the launch on Thursday. Clermont said more than 120 people have already registered for the event, held at the Delta Hotel from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Residents looking to bring forward an idea for funding will first need to meet with 10 Carden’s Katrina McQuail. She is making herself available on Tuesday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m., Wednesday evenings from 7 to 10 p.m. and Friday mornings from 9 until noon to hear people’s ideas. Once she has met with them, she will put together the paperwork necessary to begin the process.

Clermont said ideas coming from a group of people are more likely to be chosen than ideas only supported by one individual.

She said the project is still very new and the group has not yet been decided how ideas will be chosen for support. It is also unclear how many rounds of funding the project will hold each year.

Julia Grady, co-founder of 10 Carden said this process will take down the walls that exist between investors — those with resources — and the greater community, who holds the ideas. At the end of three years, she said she hopes to see at least 50 unique projects that come out of this with some level of support.

“We’re trying to bring a greater visibility to both sides of those equations in Guelph.”

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