Seed Grant

Try something new or find a better way. Seed grants support the research, development, and testing of new ideas and different approaches.

Young creative business people meeting at the office.

Next deadline

No upcoming deadlines

Term length

Maximum 12 months

Amount awarded (per year)

Minimum $5,000

Maximum $75,000

Help new ideas take root

Apply for a Seed grant to help you learn something new to drive positive change in your community. Your project should focus on what and how you will learn, rather than aiming to achieve a specific, measurable goal.

  • Find new or better ways of doing things to have more impact
  • Test or pilot a new or unproven approach to prove its potential
  • Test new ideas or concepts to learn from the results
  • Respond to emerging issues in a community
  • Try out innovative approaches where the results are unknown
  • Explore the feasibility of new or unproven ideas or approaches

Plan your application

Seed grants support projects at the idea stage. A Seed grant can support your organization to make an impact in your community by learning something new to help drive change. OTF receives a lot of applications, so it's is vital to ensure your organization’s project is a good fit with what we fund.

Take a look at our step-by-step guide to giving your Seed grant application the best chance of succeeding. This is not a guide to filling out your application. It's all about ensuring your project aligns with the purpose of Seed grants.

Learn more about submitting a good Seed grant application

Eligibility

Discover if your organization and project are eligible for funding.

Organization requirements

Please ensure your organization meets all of the following criteria:

Project eligibility

Please ensure your project meets all of the following criteria:

  • The project information is complete and includes all of the attachments
  • The project strongly aligns with your chosen Grant Result (all grants) and metric (Grow and Capital grants only)
  • The project complies with OTF policies
  • The project aligns with the Grow, Seed, or Capital Investment Stream

Board of directors requirements

All organizations, with the exception of First Nations, must meet OTF’s Board of Director’s requirements.

Please ensure your organization meets all of the following criteria:

  • Your organization has a minimum of three board members with active terms. Their terms need to be active as of the application deadline date.
  • At least 50% of the board must maintain an arm’s length relationship to each other. This means that board members and executives are not married or related to each other and do not work as business partners or are in another relationship where interests may be compromised.

Financial statement requirements

All organizations, with the exception of First Nations, must meet OTF’s financial statement requirements. 

  • Organizations must upload their most recent completed financial statements based on their fiscal year-end date and total revenues. 
  • Financial statements must be completed within 12 months of the organization’s most recent fiscal year-end.
    • 2019 financial statements are required (including 2018 comparative details) if the fiscal year end date falls between April 1st and December 31st.
    • 2020 financial statements are required (including 2019 comparative details) if the fiscal year end date falls between January 1st and March 31st.
  • Additional information pertaining to a surplus or deficit will need to be uploaded along with the financial statements, if applicable.
  • Organizations must have at least one year of financial history from their incorporation or charitable registration date based on their organization's fiscal year-end date.
  • Financial statements must be Board approved (draft statements are not accepted).
Review additional financial statements requirements

Policy requirements

Our policy requirements define eligibility for OTF funding and outline exclusions. Funds are granted to eligible applicants delivering eligible project activities that directly align with OTF Priority Outcomes and Grant Results.

View our policies

Collaboratives eligibility

We recognize and support collaborative arrangements that will achieve positive community impact.

Read more about collaborative agreements

Application process

OTF's application process involves various steps for organizations.

Application submission

Visit the grant application deadline page. Once the online application portal opens, you can begin the application. 

Review and assessment

OTF staff will first review your application as well as information available on your organization’s website and social media accounts, to make sure you are eligible to apply, that your application is complete, and is a fit with the grant requirements. Our experienced staff and local volunteers score your application against the grant assessment criteria.

Recommendation and selection

Local Grant Review Team volunteers make funding recommendations. OTF’s Board of Directors approve these recommendations.

Notification

The final list of approved grants is sent to Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to give them the opportunity to congratulate successful recipients directly, when possible. OTF then notifies all applicants of the final decision.

Orientation

Successful applicants take part in a mandatory orientation session with their OTF Program Manager.

Confirmation

Successful applicants are sent an email with their OTF Contract.

Activation
  • Grants are activated once OTF contracts are signed and returned electronically. 
  • Next, in order for OTF to release the first grant payment through electronic funds transfer (EFT), the organization’s banking information needs to be confirmed in OTF’s online portal. 
What happens during and at the end of your grant?
  • Reporting & monitoring: In addition to touch points as needed, Grantees submit a final report when the project is completed. This covers the achievement of the project and learnings.
  • Completion: After OTF staff approve a final report, the grant hold-back funds are released and the grant is closed.
  • Grantee compliance: A random sample of grants are subject to a Grantee Compliance Audit. Grant files can be audited for compliance at any point within the grants life, or after the grant has been closed.

Choose a project type

Seed grants aim to drive positive change in your community by helping you explore new ideas and concepts, build evidence that something works, or develop or pilot an idea or approach. Four types of projects qualify for a Seed grant. Choose the one that most closely aligns with your project.

Choose this project type if you want to bring people together to discuss an issue, as a first step in coming up with workable solutions. Depending on your aims and the stage of the discussion, what you learn could include:

  • Discovering who is working on an issue, who is joining the conversation, and who might be left out
  • Developing some common goals or strategies
  • Coming up with some next steps

Choose this project type if you want to explore whether or not a new idea or approach could work for your community. Consider how you plan to share what you learn, for example through a research paper, report, website, or presentation.

Choose this project type if you want to learn and understand more about a specific topic as part of your research into a new idea or concept.

Consider how you plan to share what you learn, for example through a research paper, report, website, or presentation.

Choose this project type if you want to either develop a pilot project (a plan to test an idea) or, if you already have a plan, run a pilot project.

Develop a pilot project

This type of project focuses on preparing to test an idea. It can include some or all of the following:

  • Researching what the pilot project will look like
  • Designing a mock-up and collecting feedback
  • Trying different ideas
  • Adapting your design and plans
  • Sharing what you learn to help others

OR

Pilot a new idea

This type of project focuses on understanding if a new idea or program is worth expanding. It can involve:

  • Looking for different or better outcomes than something you (or someone else) tried before
  • Assessing the potential for change you hope to see in your participants or community
  • Designing an evaluation that includes measuring outcomes so that you can learn if, and to what degree, a positive change occurred

Choose a Grant Result

OTF has outlined specific Seed Grant Results it will fund. Therefore, the results you hope to achieve with your project need to fit one of these Grant Results. The Grant Result you choose identifies the impact your project will have. As you fill out your application, you should link back and align your answers to the Grant Result your project will achieve.

What is the connection between Grant Results and the Investment Strategy?

The Action Areas are broad areas that OTF invests in. For each Action Area, the Priority Outcome is the long-term change your project will contribute to achieving for Ontarians. The Grant Result is what your project will specifically accomplish to support the Priority Outcome.

Successful Seed grant applications :

  • Have a clear alignment with the chosen Grant Result
  • Need research and study
  • Are new and unproven
  • Have unknown outcomes
  • Provide a clear learning plan

Active People: Fostering more active lifestyles

Priority Outcome 1: Higher quality programming & infrastructure to support physical activities

  • Grant Results:

    • Trained and certified coaches, officials and volunteers
    • Programs are safe, inclusive, fair, and age- or ability-appropriate

Priority Outcome 2: More people become active

  • Grant Result:

    • Ontarians participate in an active lifestyle

 

Connected People: Building inclusive and engaged communities together

Priority Outcome 1: Diverse groups work better together to shape community

  • Grant Results:

    • People have a say in shaping the services and programs that matter to them
    • People who are marginalized take on leadership roles in their community
    • Diverse groups work together and improve community life

Priority Outcome 2: Reduced social isolation

  • Grant Result:

    • People who are isolated have connections in their community

 

Green People: Encouraging people to support a healthy and sustainable environment

Priority Outcome 1: More ecosystems are protected and restored

  • Grant Results:

    • People participate in ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts
    • Conservation and restoration efforts are better planned and more sustainable

Priority Outcome 2: People reduce their impact on the environment

  • Grant Results:

    • People connect with the environment and understand their impact on it
    • People and resource users take deliberate action to benefit the environment
    • Mechanisms are developed to promote responsible resource stewardship

 

Inspired People: Enriching people’s lives through arts, culture and heritage

Priority Outcome 1: Better quality programming and infrastructure to experience culture, heritage and the arts

  • Grant Result:

    • Skills and knowledge are transferred to the next generation of artistic leaders

Priority Outcome 2: More people connect with culture, heritage and the arts

  • Grant Results:

    • Access to arts-based learning opportunities and compelling artistic, cultural and heritage experiences
    • People are engaged in community-based arts creation
    • Preservation and animation of cultural heritage

 

Promising Young People: Supporting the positive development of children and youth

Priority Outcome 1: More children and youth have emotional and social strengths

  • Grant Results:

    • Parents, caregivers and adult allies have the skills to support children and youth who are facing barriers
    • Children and youth who are facing barriers develop strong emotional and social skills

Priority Outcome 2: More youth are meaningfully engaged in the community

  • Grant Results:

    • Youth facing barriers volunteer and are in leadership roles
    • Youth are involved in creating solutions for challenges facing their community

 

Prosperous People: Enhancing people’s economic wellbeing

Priority Outcome 1: Increased economic stability

  • Grant Results:

    • People who are economically vulnerable are able to meet their basic needs
    • People who are economically vulnerable have access to community services that enhance financial stability

Priority Outcome 2: Increased economic opportunity

  • Grant Results:

    • People have the skills and knowledge to achieve greater financial independence
    • People become and stay employed
    • People become entrepreneurs

Eligible expenses

Seed grant expenses cover eligible activities you need to undertake to achieve your Grant Result through your outlined project. If your project has a large capital equipment component, it may be better suited to a Capital grant.

Costs that can be funded by a Seed grant include:

Direct Personnel Costs: Salaries, mandatory employment-related costs and employee benefits for staff positions funded specifically to carry out the project.

Direct Non-Personnel Costs: All non-personnel costs directly related to project delivery.

  • Purchased Services: Services purchased including the services of consultants/contractors/subject experts specifically relating to the delivery of the project.
  • Workshops, Meetings, Convening: Meeting/convening costs incurred relating to the delivery of the project.
  • Supplies and Materials: Items purchased specifically for use in the delivery of the project.
  • Equipment: Equipment purchased specifically for use in the delivery of the project. New construction, renovations and repairs are not eligible.
  • Travel: Travel costs incurred by employees, volunteers and participants, that are directly related to delivering the project.
  • Evaluation: Up to a maximum of 10% of the total OTF Grant Budget can be used to evaluate the funded project.
  • Overhead and Administration Costs: OTF will support overhead and administrative costs directly associated with the funded project, to a maximum of 15% of the total OTF Grant Budget.

All costs funded by OTF must be eligible and directly attributable to the project.

Please note that 10% of the awarded funding will be held back, to be paid upon satisfactory review of the final report.

Application assessment

The project outlined in your Seed application is scored by experienced OTF staff and local volunteers based on three areas of the application: Strategy, Process, and People.

Strategy

Ensure that the need for your project, how you plan to meet that need, and your end goals align with one Priority Outcome and one associated Grant result.

Scoring weight: 50%

Key areas of your application to focus on:

• Identify an overall plan designed to achieve your desired learning

• Clearly describe your project's purpose

• Clearly outline the need, opportunity, and target audience for the project

• Align your project need and description with your selected Grant Result

• Ensure photos or diagrams, if applicable, demonstrate funding needs

Process

Create a learning plan that includes the processes and steps needed to make it a success and achieve your identified learning.

Scoring weight: 25%

Key areas of your application to focus on:

• Align project activities with the project purpose

• Provide a realistic timeline to carry out the activities

• Provide an appropriate budget to carry out the activities and learning plan

• Ensure that the contributions from collaborative and/or partnering organization(s) support the project

People

Ensure that people and organizations will learn from your project.

Scoring weight: 25%

Key areas of your application to focus on:

• Clearly state what you expect to learn

• Provide a plan for how to use and/or share the learning

• Ensure the learning plan is appropriate for the project purpose

Discover the impact of past Seed projects