Grant Investment Framework

How we invest in communities to support Ontario’s non-profit sector.

Building healthy and vibrant communities

The Ontario Trillium Foundation has been investing in the non-profit sector since 1982 to build healthy and vibrant communities. Our grants help organizations drive positive change in their communities. Each year, hundreds of new projects are delivered to benefit people across the province and help build a stronger and more vibrant Ontario.

Discover this page:

Evolving to meet the needs of communities

The non-profit sector experienced significant changes over the last few years which has created unique opportunities and challenges for community organizations. With the sector evolving, we identified an important opportunity to evolve our granting approach so we could better meet the needs of Ontario’s community-based organizations. OTF has refreshed its grant investment framework to provide a simpler structure that enables applicants to align their project goals with OTF’s funding priorities more easily and effectively.

By ensuring our granting continues to be relevant, effective and efficient, we help organizations provide the services and programs that are essential to building communities that thrive.

Three people hugging and laughing in the swimming pool locker room

How We Invest in Ontario

As a public funder, OTF provides a range of opportunities to meet the diverse needs of our province’s non-profit sector. OTF grants support organizations to deliver programs and services with direct community benefit across Ontario – and specifically in one of OTF’s 16 geographic catchment areas. 
Learn how OTF invests in projects to help organizations deliver programs and services across Ontario.

A person smiles while kayaking.

Who we fund

A wide range of applicants are eligible to apply for OTF grants across our grant programs.

Eligible organizations and community groups need to meet specific criteria outlined in each grant program.

OTF supports those who are:

  • Based in Ontario
  • Working to benefit people in their communities

Learn more

A young person learning math in sign language.

What we fund

Our funding priorities are how we drive positive change for communities.

OTF has identified the priorities it will invest in and that will have a positive impact for Ontarians. OTF helps grantees deliver a wide range of community services, supports and programs through  the priorities in each grant program. 

Learn more

A child in a wheelchair cuddling with a parent

How we fund

Our grant programs define the types of projects and partnerships we fund.

OTF offers different granting programs to meet the varying needs of organizations and community groups.

  • OTF can effectively award grants for projects that directly benefit communities and their members.
  • OTF partners with sector leaders to address issues facing the broader non-profit sector.

Learn more

Community Investments

Grants that provide funding to local projects to benefit communities across Ontario.

Who we fund

OTF supports many types of organizations and communities to help them deliver community-based programs and services.

A portrait of a volunteer working in a community charity.
A family playing together in a field.
A group of students learning about plants with the teacher.

Charitable and not-for-profit organizations

Indigenous communities

Small municipalities

To be eligible for an OTF grant, applicants need to:

  • Deliver programs and services in one of four sectors: sports and recreation, arts and culture, environment, human and social services.
  • Have a primary purpose, presence, and reputation for delivering community-based programs and services with direct community benefit in Ontario.
  • Meet the eligibility policy as well as organizational requirements that includes specific governance and operational information. These consist of but are not limited to a list of board members, senior staff, by-laws and applicable financial statements based on organization size.

Read the eligibility criteria and learn more about organizational requirements on each grant page.

Funding Priorities

OTF’s funding priorities focus on six core areas that identify the types of change OTF invests in.

Applicants can identify the funding priority that best fits with their project goals.

A portrait of an older adult in the swimming pool.

Foster physically active lifestyles.

Being active helps people learn new skills, build social connections and benefits people’s physical and emotional health. 

Grants will increase physical activity for Ontarians.

A group of people laughing together outdoors.

Help people build stronger connections and a deeper sense of belonging in their community.

Communities work best and can accomplish more when the people who live in them can meet and engage with one another. By closing the social, economic and physical distances between people and their communities, we can improve people's overall sense of belonging.

Grants will support people to build connections in their communities.

A young person belly dancing.

Enrich lives through arts, culture and heritage.

Arts, culture, and heritage help define our communities and help us connect with people and places. When we have the means and opportunities to experience or express ourselves artistically and creatively, we can better understand each other, our history, and common hopes for the future.

Grants will help people experience arts, culture and heritage.

A young person learning in a classroom

Support youth to develop stronger social, emotional and leadership skills.

The right set of skills, experiences, and relationships enable children and youth to develop into successful, community-engaged adults. The appropriate support and systems help them throughout their early lives to adulthood, including family, educational opportunities, peers, and mentors. 

Grants will support the development of youth.

A group of children cleaning up plastic bottles.

Support participation in the conservation and restoration of the environment.

Maintaining Ontario’s rich and diverse natural environment is essential to our economic prosperity. A healthy environment depends on people participating in conservation and restoration efforts to ensure we build sustainable spaces and programs that protect and restore our ecosystems.

Grants will connect community members with the environment.

A young person repairing a bike at the garage.

Enable economically vulnerable people to meet their basic needs and/or strengthen their financial stability.

People’s economic security improves when the risks of poverty are reduced, and their economic opportunities are enhanced. When needs are met for the most financially vulnerable, they are in a better position to succeed. This leads to more employment choices and being less at risk of falling into poverty.

Grants will help build financial stability for vulnerable community members.

Grant streams

OTF offers a range of opportunities for eligible applicants to access funding. The Seed, Grow and Capital grants support applicants to deliver programming and improve infrastructure in their communities to meet a variety of needs.

Two STEM students working together to operate a machine.


Grants are for program innovation and/or to enhance the ability and resilience to deliver programs and service.

Seed grants help organizations to:

  • Build resilience and/or capacity by transforming strategy to deliver programs/services
  • Future-proof programs and services through digital preparedness
  • Pilot an innovative program/service to address a community need
  • Upskill staff or volunteers to better deliver programs/services

Updated information for this grant stream will be available early spring 2024.

Explore the Seed grant page.

An older adult preparing vegetables for the food bank.


Grants help deliver established programs and/or services that effectively meet community needs.

Grow grants help organizations to:

  • Expand an existing program
  • Improve an existing program
  • Adapt an existing program

Updated information for this grant stream will be available fall 2024.

A group of children playing in the playground.


Grants are for capital infrastructure to enable more Ontarians to have access to safe, quality community spaces and programs.

Capital grants help organizations to:

  • Maintain or increase access to a program or service
  • Extend the life of a facility or space
  • Improve a facility or space to make it more accessible

Explore the Capital grant page.

Youth Opportunities Fund

The Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) invests in community-led projects that play an essential role in creating safe spaces, empowering youth and families, supporting career pathways and addressing issues faced by communities.

YOF supports projects that are led by and for those who will benefit from the work, while prioritizing Black and Indigenous youth and families.

Who we fund

Two teenagers working on homepage
A portrait of a child with her mother.
A group of people brainstorming using a laptop.

Grassroots groups led by youth

Eligible groups are led by youth or youth-adult partnerships that reflect the identities and experiences of the youth that will benefit from their project.

Grassroots groups led by parents, guardians and caregivers

Eligible groups are led by parents, guardians and caregivers with core group members that reflect the identities and experiences of the parents, guardians and caregivers that will benefit from their projects.


Collaborative members reflect the communities and populations they serve and lead culturally responsive systems change work that is youth centered.

Grant streams and priority outcomes

YOF offers a range of grants to support grassroots groups and collaboratives seeking funding to develop solutions tailored to the needs of their communities.  Priority Outcomes reflect the changes YOF is investing in. Projects will work towards advancing their selected outcomes through the project activities.

A group of young people laughing together outdoors.

Youth Innovations

Grants for grassroots groups led by youth and youth-adult partnerships.

Test Grants

  • Try out a new idea that has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of young people
  • Research, learn and understand more about a specific topic or issue
  • Bring youth together to discuss an issue and explore new approaches collectively.

Scale Grants
For those with more than two years of experience delivering direct programming to youth to:

  • Enhance an existing project to create a deeper impact, or 
  • Expand a project to reach more youth

Priority Outcomes

  • Empowering girls and young women to lead, including women’s economic empowerment initiatives  
  • Supporting Indigenous, Black, and/or newcomer youth to enter the labour market and transition to sustainable career pathways 
  • Supporting youth in and/or leaving care and/or involved in the justice system to navigate and access resources for wellbeing
    • Note: For this outcome, core group members can be up to 35 years of age. 
  • Addressing racism and its impacts on youth in urban, rural and/or Northern communities  
  • Creating safe spaces for Indigenous and/or Black youth to build strong community and cultural connections

Discover all YOF grants.

A family working together on a laptop

Family Innovations

Grants for grassroots groups led by parents, guardians and caregivers.

Test Grants
Funding is to pilot a new project idea, research an issue or new concept, or strategize around an issue to support other parents, guardians, and caregivers.

Scale Grants
For those with more than two years of experience delivering direct programming to parents, guardians and caregivers to:

  • Expand their reach, or
  • Enhance and strengthen their impact through proven community projects

Priority Outcomes 

  • Creating safe spaces for Indigenous and/or Black parents, guardians, and caregivers to strengthen relationships, build strong community and cultural connections, and heal from trauma
  • Supporting parents, guardians, and caregivers to navigate and access resources for economic stability
  • Supporting parents, guardians and caregivers to effectively navigate, access, and influence systems that affect family well-being

Discover all YOF grants.

A group of happy youth running outside in the snow

System Innovations

Grants for collaboratives that lead culturally responsive systems change work.

Grants support organizations, along with grassroots groups, young leaders, partners and communities to come together and deeply reflect on the issues that youth face, and design approaches that will have lasting impact on systems.

Priority Outcomes

  • Supporting youth in and leaving care and/or involved in the justice system to navigate and access resources for wellbeing.
  • Addressing racism and its impacts on youth in urban, rural, and/or Northern communities.
  • Empowering girls and/or young women to lead, including women’s economic empowerment initiatives.
  • Supporting Indigenous, Black, and/or newcomer youth to enter the labour market and transition to sustainable career pathways. 
  • Creating safe spaces for Indigenous and/or Black youth to build strong community and cultural connections.

Discover all YOF grants.

Partnership Investments

The Partnership Investments program co-invests, convenes, and collaborates with other funders, intermediaries and organizations to build a healthier and more equitable non-profit sector in Ontario. Partnerships are developed over time through relationship building, the identification of mutual goals, and opportunities for collaboration. These efforts may lead to a formal partnership that brings focused engagement and resources to a specific project idea to advance shared outcomes that benefit the non-profit sector.

Together, OTF works to ensure the sector has the infrastructure, resources, relationships and capacity to meet the changing needs of communities in Ontario. As a partner, OTF values opportunities to imagine, design, test, and learn with others in the sector.

Priority areas

Partnership Investments mobilizes relationships and resources to strengthen the sector in four priority areas to pro-actively work towards our long-term goals in ways that no one partner can do alone. Each priority area has a portfolio of partnerships through which we are able to strategically advance progress towards our long-term goals for Ontario’s non-profit sector.

Colleagues working in a conference room

Inclusive and Resilient Sector

Building a sector that is resilient, adaptive and inclusive.

With partners OTF will:

  • Grow the resilience and adaptive capacity of the sector to navigate uncertainty and change 

This can look like:

  • Enhanced infrastructure to support resilience and adaptive capacity of the sector

  • Increased access to shared platforms for learning, networking, and shared administrative supports 

  • More effective mechanisms to respond to the priorities and needs of smaller organizations 

As sector resilience is steadily nurtured, communities will benefit from the continuity of service delivery and evolving program models that respond to current realities and context. 

Learn more about the Partnership Investments program.

Business colleagues working together on a laptop.

Data and Learning

Ensuring the sector has a healthy ecosystem for data, learning and action.

With partners OTF will:

  • Strengthen infrastructure and intermediaries for data, learning, and action
  • Enhance culture, skills and practices to use data for community wellbeing

This can result in:

  •  Access to more and better data platforms, data sets, and data tools 
  • Improved sector capacity to access, collect, analyze and use data for learning and action 
  • More ethical, equitable and culturally specific approaches are driving the data cycle  

As the data capacity of the sector improves, communities will benefit from more responsive programs and services.

Learn more about the Partnership Investments program.

A banker shaking hands with a couple during the meeting.

New Sources of Capital

Supporting the sector to have a strong community finance ecosystem to enhance community wellbeing.

With partners OTF will: 

  • Strengthen social finance infrastructure and intermediaries 
  • Mobilize capital and use assets in new and different ways 

This can result in: 

  • Improved capacity of intermediaries to sustain delivery of place-based social finance funds 
  • New and more strategic methods and approaches for mobilizing capital in support of community-led work 
  • Greater equity in the flow of capital in support of social impact work

As the sector grows infrastructure for social finance, communities will benefit as capital flows in new and more equitable ways.

Learn more about the Partnership Investments program.

A group of people brainstorming on sticky notes.

Social Research and Development (R&D)

Helping the sector use social R&D methods to deepen community impact.

With partners OTF will: 

  • Strengthen infrastructure and intermediaries for social R&D
  • Enhance social R&D culture, craft, and skills 
  • Use social R&D practices to reimagine systems for lasting social impact

This can result in: 

  • Sustained use of diverse social R&D methodologies that enable continuous process, service, and systems innovation within and across communities. 
  • Improved systems leadership across all parts of the sector 
  • Improved understanding and capacity of the sector to explore new ways to respond to community priorities

As the sector grows a vibrant social R&D practice, communities will benefit from new ideas and solutions and improved systems for lasting impact.

Learn more about the Partnership Investments program.

A father and son playing frisbee in the park.

Funding positive change

We invest in non-profit organizations to improve the health and well-being of Ontarians.

Discover our grants