Shawn James (BRE, 2004)

Distinguished Alumni Community Impact Award, 2022

Shawn James

Shawn grew up in a community challenged by gangs, drugs and violence. He asked his church, “What are you going to do to reach kids in our community?” The answer, “What are you going to do about it?” sparked a change in Shawn’s life.

Shawn has been serving with UrbanPromise Toronto (UPT) for 21 years. He began as a volunteer, engaging youth living in Toronto Community Housing with the love of Jesus and encouraging them to become leaders who restore their community. After graduating from Tyndale, Shawn became a full-time UPT missionary, leading youth ministry in Rexdale.

“From age five to 14, we are present in their lives, building relationships and sharing the gospel through our after-school programs and seasonal camps,” explained Shawn. “And when they reach the age of 15-18, we provide them with their first job, discipling them and training them to lead and plan the programs. At the age of 18-25, we're equipping them, and releasing them to multiply their impact, to go and have a restoring influence in their city, in Canada and over the world.”

In 2010, Shawn became the Community Director, leading the Rexdale and Jane and Finch ministry teams. Seven years later, he became the Executive Director with 15 staff at three sites, employing 50 youth, and reaching over 150 children every year. Shawn is a respected community leader, a Parent Council leader at his children’s school and is the recipient of the 2005 Black Business Professional Association’s Harry Jerome President’s Award for community service.

“It's a privilege to be able to witness a generation of young leaders raise up and become extraordinary despite the great hardships they face because they know how to lead by serving.”

— Shawn James


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