Family Innovations Scale Grant

Supporting families to thrive starts here. Family Innovations Scale grants support parent-, guardian- or caregiver-led grassroots groups to expand their reach and enhance their impact on parents, guardians and caregivers.

Term length

Minimum 2 years, Maximum 3 years

Amount awarded (per year)

Minimum N/A

Maximum $150,000

Looking to enhance or expand an existing project?

By making connections in community, parents, guardians and caregivers can build networks of support to enhance and enrich each other’s lives. Through the Family Innovations Stream, the Youth Opportunities Fund recognizes that parents, guardians and caregivers can look different for different families. We define them as someone, or one of the people, responsible for the physical, emotional, and economic wellbeing of children and youth. We acknowledge both legal and decolonized/culturally rooted understandings of guardians and caregivers.

In the Family Innovations Stream, we support grassroots groups that are community-led and community-inspired to scale work they have led for over two years. We invest in work that continues to empower and support parents, guardians and caregivers to improve their social and economic stability. 

Through shared identities, culture and traditions, parents, guardians and caregivers can build meaningful relationships to reduce social isolation, adopt new skills, learn about social systems and create collective pathways toward improved wellbeing.

With a Family Innovations Scale grant, groups led by parents, guardians and caregivers can:

  • Enhance the quality of parents, guardians and caregivers’ experiences to deepen the impact of a current project, or
  • Expand a current project to impact more parents, guardians and caregivers. 

Important Dates and Deadlines

Step 1: Expression of Interest (EOI)

Deadline to submit EOI April 17, 2024 at 5 PM ET 
Notification of status of EOI  Approximately 6 weeks after EOI deadline

Step 2: Grant application

Only applicants with a successful EOI will be invited to submit a grant application.

Deadline to register the Organizational Mentor (OM) June 19, 2024, 5 PM ET

Deadline to submit the grant application, which includes the signed OM- Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement 

July 10, 2024, 5 PM ET

Notification of funding decision Approximately 8 weeks after the grant application deadline
Organizational Mentor Application Open year round
Start date for all Grants November 1, 2024

Plan your application

A Scale grant can support your group to make more of an impact in your community by adding to or expanding the reach of a community project you have been delivering for over two years.

To give your application the best chance of being successful, please read the information on this page carefully. It will help you make sure that your group, project, and the people you want to support align with Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) funding priorities.

All grassroots groups applying for a grant must partner with an Organizational Mentor and enter into a collaborative agreement. An Organizational Mentor provides administrative support, project mentoring, and financial accountability to grant recipients. Learn more about requirements for Organizational Mentors.

Download and review the Expression of Interest Questions and the Project Plan and Budget Worksheet associated with the application.  

Application supports 

Eligibility

The Youth Opportunities Fund supports projects led by parents, guardians and caregivers who share identities, experiences, and face the same systemic barriers as the parents, guardians and caregivers who will benefit from the project. This “by and for” principle is a requirement in all funding streams. 

Discover if your group is eligible for funding, and make sure the people who will benefit are in YOF's priority beneficiaries. Potential Organizational Mentors (OMs) should also review the information in this section. 

Group requirements

Groups that apply for a Family Innovations grant need to meet the following requirements: 

  • The group is led by parents, guardians and caregivers. 
  • The group has at least three core group members. 
  • More than 50% of core group members are at arm’s length relationship to each other.   
  • Core group members (including board members, where applicable) reflect the identities and experiences of the parents, guardians and caregivers they are working with and for. 
  • Core group members have experience doing work together. This experience can included delivering core program model or other activities.  
  • The group demonstrates that collectively they have the skills and experiences to deliver project activities and scale this project.  
  • The group is based in Ontario. 
  • The group exists independently of a larger organization (other not-for-profit), charitable organization or municipality, university, school, religious institution and/or hospital. 
  • The group agrees to work with an Organizational Mentor and has autonomy to choose their Organizational Mentor, design the project, identify group members, and plan for the future.  

We prioritize projects led by and for Indigenous (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) and Black parents guardians and caregivers.  

Note 

  • Groups can only apply for one Youth Opportunities Fund grant at a time.   
  • If your group has an active Youth Opportunities Fund grant, you can only apply for funding if you are in the last year of your active grant. 

Eligible groups 

The work of a parents, guardian and caregiver-led grassroots group is community-led and community-inspired. Grassroots group means that core group members share identities and lived experiences with the parents, guardians and caregivers who will benefit from the project.  

Applicants that meet the group requirements must also be one of the following: 

  • A grassroots group that is not registered as a charity or as an incorporated not-for-profit
    • If you are a grassroots group from a First Nation, you are eligible to apply. Your group cannot have more than 50% of its members as part of the band office or band council.
  • An organization incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation without share capital in a Canadian jurisdiction
    • This includes a Chartered Community Council, operating under the Métis Nation of Ontario, or Inuit communities that are registered as not-for-profit corporations without share capital in Canada.
    • The organization is required to have independently managed revenues of $50,000 or less in either of the last two years.
    • Board members and day-to-day management must also be parents, guardians and caregivers. 

Ineligible groups 

The following are not eligible to apply:  

  • Registered charities
  • Religious entities established for the observation of religious beliefs, including, but not limited to, churches, temples, mosques and synagogues.
  • Municipalities
  • Groups/projects based at an existing organization (not-for-profit or for profit).
  • Groups specifically designed to serve parents, guardians, and caregivers through committees or clubs of institutions, including municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals.
  • Groups looking to design programming for children
  • For-profit businesses
  • Individuals 

Project eligibility

Your project may be eligible if it: 

  • Includes all required information 
  • Strongly aligns with your chosen YOF Priority Outcome  
  • Project model has been implemented for two or more years, and there are strong benefits to parents, guardians and caregivers you’re engaging 
  • Complies with OTF policies
    • 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 YOF Priority Outcomes 
  • Benefits parents, guardians, and caregivers  

Application process

YOF's application process involves various steps for groups and Organizational Mentors.

Prepare your application

2. Register your group 

  • Once the application portal opens, create your user profile to register your group  
    • You will need to enter the name of your group’s primary contact and their email address.  
    • We will email the primary contact a user ID, temporary password and instructions on how to access the online Expression of Interest application. 
  • If your group is already registered with OTF, log in using your current user ID and password.
     

3. Submit the Expression of Interest 

  • The purpose of the Expression of Interest is to equip our staff with the information needed to assess your project idea, group and potential for impact. This is the first step of a Youth Opportunities Fund grant application.  
  • Once the application portal opens, you can complete and submit the Expression of Interest by the deadline date. Please note that any late submissions of the Expression of Interest will not be accepted.  
     

4. Review and assessment of Expression of Interest 

  • Using the assessment criteria, our staff review your group’s eligibility, your readiness to do this work, the potential impact of your project, and how well you understand the needs, interests, and experiences of the parents guardians and caregivers you want to work with.  
  • As part of the assessment process, we review the online presence of all applicants to ensure they deliver direct programs and services to Ontarians and that they are not engaged in ineligible activities. This includes:  
    • The majority of group activities are for the purpose of bringing about change in law or government policy, including public policy dialogue and development 
    • Political activities supporting or opposing any political party, elected representative, or candidate for public office 
  • For more information about eligible and ineligible activities, review OTF’s Eligibility Policy 
     

5. Notification of shortlisted groups 

  • We notify all applicants of the status of their Expression of Interest approximately 6 weeks after the deadline. 
  • If your Expression of Interest is successful, your group will be shortlisted and invited to submit a grant application with an Organizational Mentor.  
    • For shortlisted groups, begin to research potential Organizational Mentors 
        

6. About Organizational Mentor  

  • Groups are required to confirm their Organizational Mentor at the grant application stage. We encourage you to start this relationship early.  
  • We will verify the eligibility of your Organizational Mentor. For more information about how we assess eligibility, review OTF’s Policies and Organizational Mentor requirements.  
  • If your selected Organizational Mentor is not eligible, we will ask them to notify your group and project leaders. The YOF team will provide support to find a new potential Organizational Mentor. 
  • Review the list of organizations that are pre-approved to be Organizational Mentors for the 2023-2024 round of Youth Opportunities Fund grants.
  • Is your Organizational Mentor new to OTF? The organization is required to be registered with OTF. Once OTF’s application portal opens, your Organizational Mentor can create a user profile to register their organization.  
  • Is your Organizational Mentor already registered with OTF? Once OTF’s application portal opens, your Organizational Mentor can log in to complete the online application. Look for the button called Applications (YOF) in the top right corner of the portal. Then, click on the tab called Begin New Application Org Mentor. 
     

7. Submit the grant application (for shortlisted groups only) 

8. Recommendation and selection 

  • YOF’s volunteer Grant Review Committee review grant applications and recommends a list of applications to be approved by OTF’s Board of Directors. 
  • OTF’s Board of Directors approves grant recommendations put forward by the Grant Review Committee. 
     

9. Notification 

  • Your group will be notified on the status of your grant application approximately 8 weeks after the deadline.  
     

10. Confirmation and Orientation  

  • Successful groups take part in a mandatory orientation session 
  • Your Organizational Mentor is sent an email with the OTF Grant Contract. 
  • Your Organizational Mentor is responsible for signing and upholding the Grant Contract with OTF. 
     

11. After approval 

  • Start date: The start date is no earlier than March 1, 2024   
  • Reporting & monitoring: In addition to scheduled touch points, grantees track activities, spending, and learning to complete the annual progress report and a final report 
  • Capacity building: This is an opportunity to enhance group skills as you deliver your project. Capacity building work will help you connect and network with other grantees by participating in YOF led events and making the most of capacity building funds available in your project budget.  
  • Evaluation: Grantees must work with YOF’s external evaluation partner, Students Commission of Canada, to evaluate progress towards the chosen YOF Priority Outcome 
  • Completion: After our staff approve a Final Report, the grant hold-back funds, which is the final payment for the project, 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 during the grant's life, or after the grant has been closed. 

Choose your project type

Scale grants can help you improve or expand your own successful project, where you’ve delivered core activities for over two years. Two types of projects qualify for a Scale grant. Choose the one that most closely aligns with your project.

Your group has already been successfully delivering core activities through this project for at least two years and has had a positive impact on the parents, guardians and caregivers you serve. Throughout the delivery of your project, you have developed a program model with positive results.

Additionally, you can sustain the program as a result of your group’s track record and continued engagement with parents, guardians, caregiver, and community. Now, your group wants to make the project even better to increase impact on parents, guardians and caregivers. 

This project type also includes adding new program components, such as modifying and/or making refinements to your existing model.   

Choose this project type if: 

  • This is a project your group currently delivers and/or has delivered for at least two years 
  • Your group has strong evidence of the project's success and impact that aligns with one of the Priority Outcomes associated with this grant  
  • Your group can demonstrate how you can enhance your core project and deepen the impact for the parents, guardians and caregivers you are currently working with  
  • Your group’s core team of three or more members has history and experience doing work together. This experience can include delivering the core program model or other activities 

Your group has already been successfully delivering core activities through this project for at least two years and has had a positive impact on the parents, guardians and caregivers you serve. Throughout the delivery of your project, you have developed a program model with positive results, and you can sustain the program as a result of your group’s track record and continued engagement with parents, guardians and caregivers and the community. Now your group wants to reach more parents, guardians and caregivers and expand the impact of your project.  

Expanding an existing successful project should also include aiming to increase the number of parents, guardians and caregivers who can access your program. For example, you could add more locations or hours to expand program delivery and increase access for your beneficiaries.  
Choose this project type if: 

  • This is a project your group currently delivers and/or has delivered  
  • Your group has strong evidence of the project's success and impact that aligns with one of the Priority Outcomes associated with this grant 
  • Your group can demonstrate how you can expand the reach of the project and achieve your chosen Priority Outcome to serve the same parents, guardians and caregivers you are currently working with  
  • Your group’s core team of three or more members has history and experience doing work together. This experience can include delivering the core program model or other activities 

Choose your Priority Outcome

Family Innovations Priority Outcomes reflect the changes YOF is investing in. While many of the outcomes focus on key priority populations or experiences, we continue to prioritize Indigenous and Black parents, guardians and caregivers as part of our ongoing commitment to address systemic barriers to economic and social wellbeing. The one Priority Outcome your group chooses must align with the impact you have already had on one of YOF’s primary beneficiaries. Your project should build on that impact in your Scale grant.

When choosing your YOF Priority Outcome, ask yourself:

  • What key issues and/or challenges do your selected YOF parents, guardians, and caregivers face?
  • Over the past two years, what changes did your group achieve through your core project activities and what changes do you want to sustain as a group?
  • What results does your group hope to achieve through your project? 

As you fill out your application, you should align your answers to the Priority Outcome your project will achieve.

All approved projects must advance one of these outcomes through project activities. The one you choose identifies the impact your project will have.

  • 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

Choose your Primary Beneficiaries

Who do you want to benefit from your project activities? The YOF invests in projects led by and for parents, guardians, and caregivers who face systemic barriers to wellbeing. If you see members of your core group and the people you want to engage through your project reflected in the list below, it's likely that your group is eligible.

  • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, or Inuit) parents, guardians, and caregivers
    • When selecting Indigenous (First Nations, Métis or Inuit), beneficiaries can be from urban, rural and on reserve communities
  • Black parents, guardians, and caregivers 
  • Racialized parents, guardians, and caregivers 
  • Newcomer parents, guardians, and caregivers 
  • Francophone parents, guardians, and caregivers 
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers and/or their children who are two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual (2SLGBTQIA+) 
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers and/or their children living with disabilities or special needs 
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers and/or their children living with mental health needs and/or addiction   
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers living in rural, remote and/or Northern communities 
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers and/or their children in conflict or at risk of being in conflict with the law 
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers at risk of contact or in contact with child welfare services 
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers whose children are at-risk of dropping out or have dropped out of school 
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers in low income situations 
  • Parents, guardians and caregivers who are homeless or at risk of being homeless
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers whose children are not engaged and/or are at risk of not being engaged with education programs, employment programs, or training programs 

Eligible and ineligible project expenses

  • Staffing (with considerations for Mandatory Employee Required Costs (MERC) of 20%) 
    • As you consider the roles and responsibilities of staff, ensure you include livable wages to support your program delivery
  • Transportation 
  • Honorarium (participants, volunteers) 
  • Support Services (translation, interpretation, child-minding) 
  • Project supplies and materials 
  • Project equipment (rental or purchase) 
  • Food 
  • Communications (website, promotions)
  • Fees (for services delivered by experts, facilitators, professionals) 
  • Contingency (maximum of 10% per year) 

Mandatory expenses that need to be included in every Family Innovations grant application:

  • Administrative support costs (OM): 15% of total budget
  • Capacity building: Minimum of $2,000 per year required and up to a maximum of $4,000 per year 
  • Capital infrastructure projects (renovations to space) 
  • Expenses related to political or religious activities 
  • General or ongoing operating expenses (unrelated to the project) 
  • Bursaries, scholarships, sponsorships or individual requests (including regranting funds to other projects or people)
  • Fundraising campaigns

For a full list of ineligible expenses, review OTF’s Eligibility Policy.

Expression of Interest assessment

Your Expression of Interest is assessed based on three areas of the application: Group Eligibility, People and Strategy.

  • The Project Plan and Budget will not be assessed with the Expression of Interest. However, it will be reviewed by a Program Manager if your group’s project is shortlisted. A Program Manager will reach out to share feedback on the Project Plan and Budget before the grant application deadline.  
  • If your group is shortlisted, you’ll be invited to submit a grant application with an Organizational Mentor.

Assessment Area #1: Eligibility 

Eligibility is reviewed and assessed as either Eligible or Not Eligible. 

  • Project leaders reflect the identities and experiences of those YOF parents, guardians and caregivers they are working with and for. 
  • The group exists independently of a larger organization (other not-for-profit), charitable organization or municipality, university, school, and/or hospital. 
  • The application is complete and contains clear and detailed responses. 
  • Parents, guardians and caregiver are the direct beneficiaries of the project. 
  • The group has at least three core group members. 
  • More than 50% of core group members are at an arm’s length relationship to each other. 
  • The group is not a registered charity. 
  • The group is a registered not-for-profit.  
  • If yes: Board members are clearly identified and reflect the identities and experiences of the YOF parents, guardians and caregivers being served. 
  • The group is based in Ontario. 
  • The project complies with OTF policies. 
  • The group is in compliance with advocacy restrictions of OTF’s Eligibility Policy
  • The group is either an unincorporated group or an incorporated not-for-profit corporation, with independently managed revenues of $50,000 or less in either of the last two years. 

Assessment Area #2: People

Scoring weight: 40% 

Strong Grassroots Leadership  

  • The group members have a history of working together.  
  • The group demonstrates that collectively they have the skills and experiences to deliver project activities and scale this project. 
  • The group demonstrates that they can effectively administer the grant (annual planning and reporting, budget management etc.).

Assessment Area #3: Strategy

Scoring weight: 60% 

Setting the Context (Issue and idea) 

  • The group clearly and fully demonstrates they have delivered activities over two years to parents, guardians and caregivers.   
  • The group has fully and clearly described how they want to scale their current project and for what purpose (to “Enhance the quality of parents, guardians, and caregivers' experiences to deepen the impact of a current project” or “Expand a current project to impact more parents, guardians, and caregivers”). 
  • The need, issue or opportunity connects to systemic barriers that YOF parents, guardians and caregivers face. 
  • Original core activities and proposed plan to scale are an effective response to the need, issue or opportunity the group is addressing. 
  • The idea (including plan for scaling) is culturally anchored and has been designed to respond to the experiences, needs and assets of YOF parents, guardians and caregivers. 

Potential for Impact (Idea and impact)  

  • YOF parents, guardians and caregivers are clear and direct beneficiaries of the project. 
  • The changes the group hopes to make can be achieved through their project. 
  • The changes or impacts the group hopes to make aligns with their chosen YOF Priority Outcome.
An outdoor family portrait with two parents and two kids.

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