Family Innovations Test Grant

Supporting families to thrive starts here. Family Innovations Test grants support parent-, guardian- or caregiver-led grassroots groups to research important issues, explore different approaches, or test new ideas.

Term length

Minimum 1 year, Maximum 3 years

Amount awarded (per year)

Minimum N/A

Maximum $85,000

Looking for new ways to meaningfully support families?

Are you a grassroots group led by parents, guardians, and caregivers? Apply for a Family Innovations Test grant for a project designed to support other parents, guardians, and caregivers in your community in one of three areas:

  • Research a new concept or issue
  • Strategize around issue(s) affecting people you want to support
  • Test a new project idea

Important Dates and Deadlines

Expression of Interest deadline September 29, 2021, 5p.m. ET
Notification of status of EOI Approximately 4-6 weeks after EOI deadline
Grant Application deadline December 8, 2021, 5p.m. ET
Notification of Grant Application Approximately 6-7 weeks after grant application deadline
Organization Mentor Application open November 1, 2021
Organizational Mentor Registration deadline February 16, 2022
OM-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement deadline February 16, 2022
Start date for all Grants No earlier than May 1, 2022

Plan your application

Test grants support projects at the idea stage. A Test grant can support your group to make an impact in your community by learning something new to help drive positive change. To give your application the best chance of being successful, please read the information on this page carefully and access available supports. 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.

Take time to consider these key questions:

Eligibility

Discover if your group is eligible for funding, and make sure your beneficiaries are in YOF's priority beneficiaries. Potential organizational mentors should also review the information in this section.

Group eligibility

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

We prioritize projects led by and for Indigenous and Black parents, guardians, and caregivers. Read our definition of Black- or Indigenous-led grassroots groups.

Eligible groups

Your group may be eligible if it:

  • Is led by parents, guardians, and caregivers who share identities and experiences with those they will engage in project activities
  • Exists independent of a larger organization.
  • Is based in Ontario
  • Has three or more core members
  • Is either an unincorporated group or an incorporated non-profit organization with independently managed revenues no higher than $50,000 in either of the last two years.
  • Agrees to work with an Organizational Mentor (OM)

Ineligible groups

The following are not eligible to apply:

  • Registered charities
  • 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
  • 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

OTF's application process involves various steps for groups and organizational mentors.

Key dates and Expression of Interest (EOI) submission
  • Review the Grant Application deadlines
  • Review the EOI questions at FI Resources to prepare your responses
  • Submit your application online
Create a user profile
  • Start your application by logging in or creating a new user profile in our application portal
  • If you are creating a new user profile, please enter the name of your group’s primary contact with their email address. We will email this person a user ID, temporary password, and instructions on how to access the online Expression of Interest (EOI).
Notification of shortlisting and Grant Application submission
  • We will tell you the status of your EOI around 4-6 weeks after the EOI deadline
  • Begin to research potential organizational mentors (OM)
  • If your group is shortlisted, you will be invited to submit a Grant Application
Notification of Grant Application status
  • You will receive news on the status of your Grant Application around 6-7 weeks after the grant application deadline
  • If your application has been recommended for funding, we will ask you to submit information about your OM. This includes:
    • Working with your OM to review the Grant Application and finalize your Organizational Mentor-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement
    • Submitting the Organizational Mentor-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement by the deadline
    • Submit the signed agreement to yof@otf.ca
    • Asking your Organizational Mentor to submit the Organization Mentor Application (see below)
OM application and assessment (OMs only)
  • Review relevant deadlines for the OM application
  • Is your organization new to OTF? If yes, Register online once the OM application is live
  • Is your organization already registered with the OTF? Once the OM application is live, you will Log in to apply online Look for Applications (YOF) in the top right corner. Click to access OM Application.
  • The YOF team will verify your organization’s eligibility
  • If your organization is not eligible, we will ask you to notify the relevant groups and project leaders impacted by this decision
Recommendation and selection
  • The volunteer YOF Grant Review Committee will finalize funding recommendations following the submission of OM information
  • OTF’s Board of Directors approve these recommendations
Recommendation and selection
  • The volunteer YOF Grant Review Committee will finalize funding recommendations following the submission of OM information
  • OTF’s Board of Directors approve these recommendations
Notification of funding approval
  • If your Grant Application is funded, your OM will sign and uphold the grant contract with OTF
  • All applicants will be notified of the status of their Grant Application two months after you submit your Organizational Mentor – Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement
After approval
  • Start date: The start date is no earlier than May 1st of the year your grant starts.
  • 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: Learn and connect with other YOF 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 an external evaluation team to evaluate progress towards the chosen YOF outcome.
  • 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 during the grant's life, or after the grant has been closed.

Choose your project type

Test grants aim to drive positive change in your community by helping you research new ideas and concepts, strategize on actions your group can take, build evidence that something works, or develop or pilot an idea or approach. Three types of projects qualify for a Test grant. Choose the one that most closely aligns with your project.

Choose this project type if you want to learn and understand more about a specific topic or issue. Consider how you will conduct your research, how much time this work will take, and how your group will share what you learn, for example through a research paper, report, website, or presentation. If you choose this type of Test grant, your research topic must align with one of the Family Innovations Priority Outcomes.

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

  • Understanding an issue and its impact on your community
  • Discovering who is already working on an issue, who is joining the conversation, and who might be left out
  • Developing some common goals or strategies to respond to the issue
  • Coming up with next steps as a collective

The focus of your strategizing work must align with one of the Family Innovations Priority Outcomes.

This type of project focuses on trying out a new idea that has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of parents, guardians, and caregivers. The idea you want to test should align with one of the Family Innovations Priority Outcomes.

Choose your Priority Outcome

Priority Outcomes reflect the changes YOF is investing in. All approved projects must advance one of these outcomes through project activities. The one you choose identifies the impact your project will have.

When choosing your YOF Priority Outcome, think about:

  • Why you are doing this project
  • What difference you hope to make through your work

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

  • 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 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
  • 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 (2SLGBTQ+)
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers and/or their children living with disabilities or special needs
  • 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 in low income situations
  • Parents, guardians and caregivers who are homeless or at risk of being homeless
  • Parents, guardians, and caregivers whose children are at-risk of dropping out or have dropped out of school

Definitions

What is a parent, guardian and caregiver?

Someone, or one of the people, responsible for the physical, emotional, and economic wellbeing of a child or young person. This includes a legal and decolonized/culturally rooted understanding of guardians and caregivers. A parent, guardian, or caregiver is different from a caring adult or a mentor.

What is a "culturally anchored" project?

A project informed by the context of the lived experiences, culture of the participants and shared experiences of the community. The project should fit with the needs of the community, and have a cultural context.

What is a grassroots group?

The work of a grassroots group is community-led and community-inspired. Core group members share identities and lived experiences with the people who will benefit.

Not sure if you are eligible? Reach out to us at yof@otf.ca.

Eligible and ineligible project expenses

  • Staffing (with considerations for Mandatory Employee Required Costs (MERC) of 20%) 
  • 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) 
  • Contingency (maximum of 10% per year) 
  • Mandatory Expenses that need to be included in every Test Request:

  • Administrative Support Costs (OM)- 15% of total budget  
  • Capacity Building: up to $4,000 per year (Capacity building is optional for the family innovation stream).
  • Capital infrastructure expenses (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  

Expression of Interest (EOI) assessment

How are Test EOIs assessed?

  • Your Test EOI is assessed based on three areas of the application: Group Eligibility, People, and Strategy (See EOI Test Questions and Scorecard for more details)
  • At the EOI stage, the Project Plan and Budget will be reviewed by a YOF Program Manager but not assessed
  • If your group is invited to submit a Grant Application, a YOF Program Manager will reach out to share feedback on the Project Plan and Budget before the Grant Application deadline
  • The Project and Budget will only be assessed at the Grant Application stage of the application process