Peter Cundill

The Portfolio

In 2019, we evolved our giving strategy to focus on maximising our ‘Total Impact’. Our new approach has seen us build fewer, deeper funding partnerships, in which strong relationships with our partners are built on the back of rigorous, initial evaluation and due diligence. Our partners normally benefit from longer-term, unrestricted funding alongside a range of non-financial support accessed at the partner’s discretion.

While most our partnerships are in place, we continue to evaluate great charities focused on improving the lives of children in Canada, the UK and four countries in East Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).

While we only have the capacity to evaluate a few organisations in depth, if you work for a charity focused on the countries above and would like it to be considered for evaluation, please do send us one to two pages of general information about your work, impact to date and plans. We regret that we cannot give detailed feedback on these notes (of which we receive a great many) and while we aim to acknowledge receipt, charities should assume no funding is available unless and until we get in touch as part of a full evaluation.

Information on some of our most established partnerships:

Family Centre provides counselling services and other programmes for children suffering from emotional, social, behavioural and trauma-based challenges.
Programmes include Youth Leadership Academy, Beyond Rugby Bermuda and Beyond Yoga Bermuda. Additionally, Family Centre has been at the forefront in policy, advocacy initiatives, community education, collaboration and consultation that promote positive parenting and protection of children.

Three things we like about them …

  • Authentic Community-Building - Family Centre is run by Bermudians helping Bermudians. They are in for the long haul for the young people and families who access their services, many of whom have gone on to be leaders with the Centre and in the community.
  • Innovation - Why not rugby or yoga, or gardening? Family Centre is open to trying different avenues to reach young people.
  • Voice - In a tight island community there are many things left unsaid. Through Family Centre outreach, media campaigns and advocacy topics such as children's mental health, abuse and neglect are brought front and centre.

Gakinaamaage – Teach for Canada Study after study shows that public schools in Canada are among the best in the world. But this masks deep inequality. Only 48% of First Nations youth living on reserve have a high school diploma. In the North, those numbers are even lower. Too often, teachers arrive in northern First Nations without the preparation and support they need to succeed—and stay—in the classroom. The twin challenges of teacher supply and turnover compound historical injustice and systemic inequities. The right kind of teacher can help fill this gap. Gakinaamaage works with community leaders to recruit and select teachers who will be successful in northern First Nations. Once selected, they provide a community-focused preparation programme and ongoing support. Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action on Education, Gakinaamaage teachers emphasize a spirit of reciprocal learning in the classroom and community.

Three things we like about them …

  • Solution Focused - so long as First Nations communities are dependent on teachers from away, they will face challenges with appropriate delivery and retention. Gakinaamaage is working both to better prepare non-Indigenous teachers and inspire Inuit, Métis and First Nations educators.
  • Growth - Gakinaamaage is on the cusp of significant growth, expanding from Northern Ontario and Manitoba to reach across Canada within the next five years.
  • Authenticity - the team is mission driven, with a clear focus on achieving the best results for children in remote Indigenous communities.

Indspire is a national, Indigenous charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Programmes Include:

  • Scholarships, awards and bursaries
  • The 'Rivers to Success' mentorship programme for Indigenous students
  • Teach for Tomorrow identifies and supports students in high school who want to be teachers
  • Research & Impact Unit tracking and analyzing post-secondary and labour market data for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students in Canada
  • Annual events are a way to celebrate those who are making a difference in the lives of Indigenous peoples across Canada.

Three things we like about them …

  • Scale - Indspire is the only national organization focused on Indigenous post-secondary education. It is also the largest non-government funder of students.
  • Research - their unit is the only team through which research is carried out on Indigenous education, students and labour markets by Indigenous researchers.
  • Inspiration - Through national awards event and trainings, Indspire provides gathering places for positive development in Indigenous education. is a unique charitable organisation based in Canada, working to educate and empower young people to improve the mental health of themselves, their peers, and family. They also harness the voices of youth to advocate for improvements to mental health systems. You can see their unique approach here.

Three things we like about them …

  • Best-in-class digital presence: Their ‘BeThere’ website has been recognised as one of the top health websites globally. Their library of videos and content help them reach more young people effectively.
  • Scalability: Their engaging digital presence plus a staff of 45 a network of 3,000 youth volunteers and hundreds of Jack Talks speakers and Jack Chapters in every part of Canada has helped them reach huge numbers of young people. They openly share and learn from youth mental health organizations globally.
  • Professionalism: Their governance, management and operating systems are exceptionally strong for an organisation that only launched in 2013.

JUMP Math believes that every child can be good at math. It is a charitable organization empowering educators and students with an understanding and appreciation of math in Canada, the United States and beyond. Equity is at core of JUMP Math. Resources are structured to support every teacher to engage every student in every math class.

Three things we like about them …

  • It seems to work - JUMP Math has ever improving data on the efficacy of its approach with the strongest gains for those furthest behind.
  • Social Enterprise - revenues from the sale of learning materials underwrite the delivery of programmes and drive scale.
  • Reach – they have prioritized ensuring that their programmes and materials are accessible to highest need communities. This includes translation of workbooks into several languages.

Outward Bound Canada runs courses that include canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking and winter camping. It uses adventure and community service as vehicles through which youth can mature and develop a sense of responsibility and compassion. Outward Bound partners with high schools, universities, community groups, government agencies, corporate groups and learning institutes across Canada, with an increasing focus on widening access to traditionally less well represented communities.

Three things we like about them …

  • Sector Leaders - many programmes offer experiential learning opportunities but Outward Bound is one of the originals with a decades long legacy of safe and transformative learning experiences.
  • Access - increasingly focuses its energy on those who would benefit greatly from an OB experience, yet would otherwise not be able to participate.
  • Scale - with so many educators wishing to offer experiential learning programs, OB now leads federally funded, outdoor instructor training across Canada.

SNAP International Headquarters, a division within the Child Development Institute (CDI), is building a network of service providers across Canada and internationally. SNAP (Stop Now And Plan) is a rigorously tested therapeutic programme which reduces aggressive and impulsive behaviour amongst young participants.

Three things we like about them …

  • Evidence based – SNAP’s Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based model has exceptionally strong external validation through multiple randomized control trials.
  • Life changing – young people and their families who participate in SNAP programmes show sustained improvements in mental health, reductions in anti-social behaviour and crime.
  • Taking to scale – CDI SNAP International Headquarters is expert in training and supporting a network of affiliates who run the programme across Canada and internationally. We are backing them to help the SNAP programme be delivered successfully far and wide.

Spirit North provides land-based sports and activities to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous youth and children, empowering them to become unstoppable in sport, school and life. Through the transformative power of sport and play, participants build the confidence and courage to overcome the hardships Indigenous youth often face.

Having a meaningful connection to the land is pivotal, and regular access to sport and land-based activity has the ability to improve physical health, mental health and community health. Through Spirit North programmes, children and youth are provided with leadership opportunities, achieve academic success and become vibrant, engaged members of their communities.

Three things we like about them …

  • Asset Focused - where others may see deficits Spirit North is all about positivity, energy and possibility.
  • Role Modelling - Founder and Olympic Gold medallist, Beckie Scott and the other high-performance athletes who make up the Spirit North team, are an inspiration for young people.
  • Inclusive - not all children are inclined to sports. Spirit North has developed programmes and an approach which celebrates all gifts and levels of participation.

Youth Empowering Parents turns young people from educated to educator. Too often, youth are treated as a ‘problem’ that needs to be fixed. In many immigrant households, children regularly assist parents. YEP brings this household dynamic into a formal classroom, with young people tutoring everything from conversational English to computer skills. Adults benefit by receiving free 1-on-1 tutoring, in their own native language (if needed). Teaching a skill to someone is not always easy. YEP training and curriculum materials are carefully designed to make children effective 1-on-1 tutors. At the end of the day, adults gain the skills they need and youth develop confidence in their own abilities.

Three things we like about them …

  • Double Impact - YEP benefits two groups through one programme.
  • An inspiring 'BIG IDEA' - its mission - ‘to turn young people from educated into educator’ - is about thinking differently about the youth sector, and youth themselves, in order to recognize and utilize the capacity of youth as service providers rather than service receivers.
  • Simplicity - the YEP program is a simple replicable idea.

Youth Fusion is an award-winning charity founded in Québec in 2009 that contributes to the perseverance, orientation, employability and civic engagement of youth through experiential learning projects. Projects allow students to acquire transferable interdisciplinary skills, discover careers and spark passions. The young coordinators, university and college students employed by the organization develop projects in their field of study with primary and secondary students. These projects are carried out in close collaboration with schools, teachers and members of the community. Professionals, primarily from partner organizations, are assigned to schools as volunteer mentors to introduce youth to career opportunities and help them achieve their goals.

Three things we like about them …

  • Energy – YF has channelled the energy of hundreds of young university-aged leaders into schools, providing inspiration for students.
  • Continuity - many programmes exist to provide enrichment experiences. YF adds a layer of continuity, staying with schools throughout the school year.
  • Reach - they have not taken the easy road and identify schools in greatest need, hard to serve and remote communities where success is not a given.

Youth and Philanthropy Initiative Canada is offered to secondary schools across Canada. In teams, students learn about social issues impacting their community and then choose a charity that addresses one issue. They then research and visit the charity before sharing what they learn with their peers through a presentation. The top presentations from the year advance to the school’s YPI Final, where a youth-led panel of judges selects one team to "win" a $5,000 grant for the charity they represented. Students are given authentic responsibility and decision-making power throughout the YPI process.

Three things we like about them …

  • Triple impact - the YPI approach builds skills, drives civic engagement and also directs funds to community-based charities.
  • Simple and Scalable - the model can be delivered in any school and can be easily disseminated.
  • Habit-building - students who participate in YPI programmes become more involved in their communities, contribute to causes and make a difference throughout their lives.

The equality effect (e²) aims to reduce the incidence of rape and sexual abuse of children by improving the implementation of existing law based on children’s rights. In Kenya, e² coordinated a constitutional claim against the government for failing to protect girls who had been raped. Known as the 160 Girls Project, Kenya’s High Court agreed that the police failure to enforce existing rape laws, and protect them from rape, is a violation of domestic, regional and human rights law. E² is now working with the police, judiciary, local communities and youth themselves to ensure the implementation of the 160 Girls decision.

Three things we like about them …

  • Major wins - through their 160 Girls project, all 10,000,000 + girls in Kenya and beyond have benefitted. It has led to major reforms in Kenyan policing and courts.
  • Changing culture – by widely promoting the issues they deal with, e² has helped to raise public awareness of and support for girls’ and women’s rights.
  • Working in partnership – by building trusted alliances with police leadership, e² drives real change where it matters most.

Promoting Equality in African Schools is a multi-award winning charity that supports young Africans from low-income, rural areas into and through quality, secondary education. The organisation creates model school networks, funded sustainably through a combination of public private partnership, local revenues and innovative school financing models. Using their own schools as exemplars, PEAS also partners with government to improve government schools.

Three things we like about them …

  • Quality – students in PEAS schools learn much faster than those in other schools – they arrive well behind national and regional averages but then catch up and overtake them.
  • Access - the children in PEAS schools come from poorer backgrounds than those in government schools.
  • Efficiency - PEAS unit costs are lower than at government schools, while learning levels are higher.

Raising the Village Operating at the intersection of community-driven development and advanced data analytics, RTV partners with last-mile farming communities in Sub-Saharan Africa to address ultra-poverty. Their approach focuses on increasing earnings from as little as $0.75/day to > $2/day within 24 months by:

  • Increasing agricultural productivity through agricultural inputs, technical knowledge, coaching and mentorship.
  • Enabling Participation – providing basic needs and services like clean water, food security, health and loan finance.
  • Ensuring Sustainability - by building local capacity and structures that enable sustainable community-led development.

Three things we like about them …

  • Data wizardry – by diagnosing the particular challenges an area faces and evaluating the impact of each type of support quickly, RTV is able to focus its programming on generating the greatest social return on investment.
  • The potential to create systemic impact – the rigor of RTV’s action research allows it to confidently advise governments on how best to drive up rural incomes in any given location.
  • A focus on the very poorest – RTV seeks out villages with the lowest household incomes.

Street Child works in remote, fragile and disaster-affected areas in 22 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It aims to get children safe, in school and learning. It has four overlapping focus areas:

  1. Children affected by disasters and emergencies
  2. Girls' education
  3. Street-connected and out-of-school children
  4. Quality education.

Street Child recognizes that the barriers to education are complex and interlinked, and its projects focus on a combination of education, child protection and livelihoods support to address the social, economic and structural issues that underpin today’s education crisis. Projects include building classrooms, teacher training, resource provision, child protection interventions and income-generating initiatives designed to support schools to pay teachers and help families afford the cost of education.

Three things we like about them …

  • Nimble - for a fast growing organization, Street Child remains nimble and tenacious. They are literally out looking for trouble.
  • Effective - the organization has proven repeatedly that they are able to deliver quality education programmes under the most difficult circumstances, while remaining cost-effective.
  • Enabling - Street Child recognizes that the desire to provide good education already exists within individuals and local organizations where they work. By partnering they achieve authentic and sustainable results.

Baker Dearing Educational Trust supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs) to deliver a high quality, industry focused curriculum to students aged 13+ years. There are 47 of these government funded, STEM focused, industry supported UTCs across England. Baker Dearing supports UTCs to achieve high standards, encourages communication and the cross-fertilisation of ideas between UTCs, and advocates for technical qualifications and UTCs specifically.

Three things we like about them …

  • Good track record – UTC leavers did significantly better than the national average, in terms of those moving into apprenticeships, those getting a place at university and those entering employment.
  • It helps the government to understand the potential of technical education/UTCs and how to help them flourish.
  • It has helped drive year on year improvements in UTC’s Ofsted ratings and aggregate enrolment.

Family Links aim is to enable and support children and their families to become emotionally healthy. It does this through delivering high-quality training and resources on parenting and emotional health, to a whole range of professionals working with children and their families.

Three things we like about them …

  • It works with parents which is hugely important, given how great an impact good parenting can have on a child’s emotional health and life chances.
  • Robust business model – much of its income is generated through training fees and sales of materials, reducing reliance on philanthropy and improving scalability.
  • Training experts – there is something to be said for doing one thing really well.

IntoUniversity advance the education of children and young people in socially or economically disadvantaged communities to increase their chances of entering higher education, or achieving another chosen aspiration.

Three things we like about them …

  • They place great emphasis on evaluating their impact across an increasing number of centres.
  • They substantially increase the rate at which children from challenging backgrounds go on to University.
  • They have strong, diversified sources of revenue (including earned revenue from university partners) allowing unrestricted philanthropic dollars to go further.

Jamie's Farm supports disadvantaged young people at risk of social and academic exclusion to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. It does this by delivering week-long residentials for young people, at one of its six farms in the British countryside.

Three things we like about them …

  • It is highly targeted. Schools refer students who are either at risk of under-attaining or at risk of exclusion, including those with behaviour issues, poor mental health or absenteeism.
  • It is the relationships that make it special. Staff live and work alongside all the young people on the farms, eating with them, farming with them, supporting them. This allows the young people to experience and recognise meaningful relationships, with both adults and peers.
  • Schools are paying for this service, despite their limited budgets. They are seeing the impact on young people’s attendance, behaviour and engagement in the classroom.

Place2Be enhances the wellbeing and prospects of children and their families by providing access to therapeutic and emotional support in schools, using a proven model backed up by research and training. By providing early intervention with mental health problems, they ensure children and young people are supported to build lifelong coping skills and to thrive.

Three things we like about them …

  • Impact - they have iterated and developed their whole school model to the point where it is so strong, it should be in every school.
  • Holistic - they recognise the critical importance of a child’s adult support network and provide specialist resources and services for teachers and parents.
  • Value - by covering most of their programme costs through fees charged to schools, they ensure donor dollars go further. Their model has been proven to deliver value to society, and in the classroom.

Right to Succeed coordinates local organisations to work collectively, to improve a range of outcomes for children and young people from the most deprived communities. It brings together multiple stakeholders to co-design and deliver a programme that is tailored to the needs of the children in that community. All of the programmes include a strong focus on literacy.

Three things we like about them …

  • Coordination – its role is not to parachute in yet another intervention or service to ‘solve’ a particular issue in a school or community. Instead, its role is to lead from behind, joining up the funding and delivery of existing children’s services, to achieve a common goal in that community.
  • Research-led – RTS is a data-driven, impact-focused organisation which is continually measuring what it is doing and learning from it. Its works closely with expert, third-party institutions to ensure the evidence base is robust.
  • Leveraging statutory resources – statutory agencies and commissioners are involved from the outset, which includes part-funding RTS’s work and part-funding the work on the ground directly. This enables philanthropic dollars go much further.

SafeLives is the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good. SafeLives work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse. They listen to survivors, putting their voices at the heart of their thinking. They look at the whole picture for each individual and family to get the right help at the right time, and they challenge perpetrators to change.

Three things we like about them …

  • They are influencing change and use their voice to call for better support for all victims and survivors of abuse.
  • They are innovative and focused on designing approaches to improve support for survivors of domestic abuse.
  • They are working with perpetrators of abuse to challenge and change their behaviour.

Sistema Scotland works in some of Scotland’s most underserved communities through its Big Noise Programme – a high-quality, music education and social change programme that works intensively with children, young people and families. Through Big Noise, Sistema provides young people with the chance to grow up in a nurturing, supportive environment, saturated with music-making.

Three things we like about them …

  • They recognise the powerful effect that achieving ‘excellence’ has on children’s self-esteem.
  • Their long-term approach means beneficiaries build trusting mentor/mentee type relationships with musical instructors.
  • Big Noise is well evidenced through a third-party commissioned evaluation.

The Childhood Trust aims to prevent and alleviate the impact of poverty on children and young people in London. It does this through grants to other charities, as well as by providing smaller items and services direct to families.

Three things we like about them …

  • A way to fund grassroots organisations working in the heart of marginalised communities in London.
  • The model is highly leveraged because it drives additional funding, through its matched fundraising campaigns, into local organisations that would not otherwise be able to access such a range of grants and donations.
  • This city-wide model has the potential to be replicated elsewhere.

West London Zone works with children and young people aged 3 to 18 to fulfil their potential and flourish into adulthood. The WLZ programme is a two-year, personalised and intensive package of support tailored to each child's unique strengths, needs and aspirations, delivered through local charity partners, schools and local authorities.

Three things we like about them …

  • Their Link Workers are embedded in schools to ensure a coordinated approach that gets individual children the support they need, both within school and through third party providers.
  • They are a leading ‘place-based’ charity, developing an integrated and increasingly proven model of support that has huge potential for national replication.
  • WLZ benefits from a diverse and sustainable funding model, receiving income from schools, local authorities, central government and philanthropy. Its results-based payments incentivise it to ensure progress for each and every child.




The Cundill History Prize was founded in 2008 to recognize and promote literary and academic achievement in history. The Prize is presented annually to an author who has published a non-fiction book in the prior year that is likely to have profound literary, social, and academic impact in the area of history. At a value of US$75,000, the Grand Prize is the richest non-fiction history prize in the world. In addition, two "Recognition of Excellence" prizes of US$10,000 each are awarded to the finalists. The winners are selected by an independent jury of at least five internationally qualified individuals selected by McGill University. The Cundill Prize in History at McGill is administered by McGill University's Dean of Arts, with the help of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. In addition to the Prize itself, the Cundill History Festival is hosted each year and includes Cundill Fringe events run by students. Prize finalists, past recipients, faculty, students and the public are given an opportunity to share ideas, debate and remind us all of the importance of the study of history. The Peter Cundill Foundation also supports a fellowship programme for a doctoral student studying History and Classical Studies at the University.

Peter Cundill explained his affinity with history as follows: "I am an investment researcher of finance and I think there is an analogy between the two disciplines - both study the past to understand the present and predict the future."

Three things we like about them …

  • The Peter Cundill Foundation supports the Cundill Prize in History as a legacy to Peter's interest in history and his affiliation as an alumnus of McGill University.
  • We understand that the complex issues the Foundation is trying to address have an historic context. This context helps us to select appropriate philanthropic investments for the future.
  • The study of history is important both in retaining and expanding our knowledge of the past and also in the critical research, thinking and analysis skills it develops in people. History is a worthy university discipline, the graduates of which are a valuable asset to any organization.


Worldwide, more than 350 million people live with depression. For 70%, the illness began in childhood. Depression is a serious illness that can lead to suicide, the second leading cause of death of young people in Canada. Young people need – and deserve – treatments developed just for them so they can recover more quickly and stay healthier.

The Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression is creating hope by driving research and bringing together leading global experts for unique collaborations. The Centre is identifying, developing and evaluating early intervention, prevention and treatment strategies, and determining the most effective approaches for children and youth with depression. Knowledge gained from these initiatives is disseminated to support local health networks and practitioners and shared around the world to ensure young people everywhere have access to best practices. The Cundill Centre’s work fits into three pillars: Discover and Solve, Share and Lead.

Discover and Solve: applied clinical research provides the evidence needed to create novel, culturally appropriate screening tools, early interventions and treatments.

Share: knowledge gained by the Cundill Centre is shared globally to drive improved clinical practice.

Lead: through its expertise in research, care and education, the Cundill Centre is leading a global effort to achieve better care for children and youth with depression. The Centre is training young researchers in depression and addressing gaps in care.

Three things we like about them …

  • Leading research - the work of the Cundill Centre is grounded in a long and strong history of primary research for which CAMH is renowned.
  • Practical application - the Centre is implementing interventions such as the CARIBOU care plan in real time, based on cutting edge research.
  • Community of Practice - the Centre builds a community of practice amongst researchers, healthcare professionals and partner organizations, in order to achieve best outcomes for children and youth everywhere.



For several years, the Foundation has significantly exceeded the offset of its annual carbon footprint through the purchase of carbon credits in Gold Standard certified projects.



The Peter Cundill Foundation, Improving the Lives of Children