Building a sense of belonging for children and youth

A group of happy children sitting inside a classroom

Building a strong sense of belonging in children and youth help young people feel cared for, respected and supported. Through a new partnership, OTF is pleased to jointly support the development of shared measurement tools to help organizations better understand how their programs and services are affecting the sense of belonging of the children and youth they serve.

Research has shown that higher rates of belonging are generally associated with more positive well-being outcomes. However, collecting data on how to improve a program’s impact on belonging remains a challenge for many organizations on the front-line due to a lack of capacity and/or resources.

The Belonging Shared Measurement Project will build the tools and supports to make it easier for community organizations in Waterloo, Ontario to measure the outcomes of their work. This project will enable organizations to:

  • develop shared measurement tools and foster peer learning opportunities. 
  • jointly understand how their programs and services are affecting the sense of belonging of the children and youth they serve. 
  • share what they are learning and use that knowledge to inform improvements to their programs and services to foster a greater sense of belonging.


This project is led by the Well-Being Shared Measurement Database Task Group of the Children and Youth Planning Table of Waterloo Region, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, YMCA of Three Rivers, Mitacs, United Way Waterloo Region Communities, OTF and piloted by several social purpose organizations in the Waterloo region.

The tools and resources developed from this partnership will be shared broadly.

Project resources

Quick Facts 

  • The Partnership Investments program connects the non-profit, public, and private sectors to build a stronger non-profit sector in Ontario. The program's mission is to mobilize relationships and resources in communities to build the capacity of the non-profit sector to innovate and deliver better outcomes for Ontarians. 
  • In 2021-2022, Partnership Investments mobilized relationships and resources creating a total partnership portfolio valued at $6.4 million. This includes $1.6 million contributed by OTF, $4.8 million mobilized and $1.3 million of in-kind contributions.