Youth Innovations Stream FAQs

About the Youth Innovations Stream

The Youth Innovations Stream is for grassroots groups that are youth-led or youth-adult partnerships. Groups must have at least 3 core members who share identities and experiences with the young people they will engage through project activities.

Any group that:

  • Has a majority of individuals aged 29 or under at the governance or decision-making level; and
  • Has youth, 12 to 29, managing the project (from planning, to implementation and evaluation); and
  • Serves youth as its primary mandate.

A youth-adult partnership is a group that has young people as its primary audience and where youth and adults share power.  This looks like:

  • Shared responsibility for decision-making about the project and the group 
  • Shared responsibility for planning and delivery of activities and the budget
  • Shared responsibility for planning for the future of the project and the group 

Beneficiaries are those youth who will benefit from and be directly engaged through projects funded by the YOF. See list of priority populations in the Youth Innovations Stream. 

Yes. The YOF prioritizes projects led by and for:

  • Indigenous (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) youth, parents, guardians, and caregivers
  • Black youth, parents, guardians, and caregivers

No. The YOF intentionally invests in initiatives that are designed for specific and named beneficiaries. Leaders must also share identities and experiences with those intended beneficiaries. This is the "led by and for" principle that the YOF regards as essential to grassroots work.

  • Youth Innovations Test grants up to $85,000 annually for 1 to 3 years.
  • Youth Innovations Scale grants up to $125,000 annually for 3 to 4 years.

The application process and deadlines are: 

  • Expression of Interest (EOI) due October 14, 2020
  • OM-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement (shortlisted EOI groups only) due December 16, 2020
  • Grant Application (shortlisted EOI groups only) due January 13, 2021

Start by creating a user profile in our application system to access the on-line Expression of Interest. Visit the resources page on our website to review the Test Expression of Interest Tools and Scale Expression of Interest Tools 

Late submissions will not be accepted, out of fairness to all applicants.

All applicants will be notified in mid-November 2020

Typically, we shortlist approximately twice as many EOIs as we are able to fund. 

The YOF will not fund: 

  • Capital infrastructure projects (renovation of spaces to make it “youth friendly”, construction of new spaces, making spaces physically accessible etc.)
  • Large equipment that serves as a one-time use only, and is not key to the funded project 

Please note, YOF will fund equipment costs specifically required for YOF funded initiatives. 

No. Choose the one outcome that most strongly aligns with the changes you hope to make through your project. Questions to ask about your project: Why are we doing this project? What difference do we hope to make through our work? Select the YOF outcome that most closely matches your project’s purpose. 

No, Youth Innovations Stream beneficiaries are youth 12 to 25. For projects serving youth living with disabilities or special needs, the age limit is 29. 

Group Eligibility

Youth/young adults applying to the Youth Innovations Stream can be between the ages of 12-29 years old. 

Yes. Visit the Youth Innovations Stream page for more information.

Small incorporated grassroots groups may be eligible to apply. You may be eligible if you have independently managed revenues $50,000 or less in each of the last two years. If you have managed more than $50,000 in revenues in either of the last two years, you are not eligible. Check with us if you are not sure! 


No. Groups can only submit one application per stream. Groups must choose to apply to either the Youth Innovations Test or Youth Innovations Scale grant stream.

Yes. You may be eligible to apply for a YOF grant as a current or past grantee. Please connect with a member of the YOF Team if you are current or former grantee and you are interested in reapplying to the YOF.

  • IF you are a current or former Test grantee applying to scale, you will need to demonstrate the effectiveness of your idea and the results achieved over a two-year period.  
  • IF you are a current or former Scale grantee applying to test a new idea, you may be eligible to apply. Your idea will be assessed on its own merit.

In all cases, a current grantee cannot apply for a new YOF grant for the very same work (same idea, same scope) it was already funded for.  

No. Individuals are not eligible to apply to the YOF.  A minimum of three team members are required to ensure that the group has the capacity (people power and good mix of skills) to support the delivery of the project.

No. Municipalities are not eligible to be OMs or to apply as the lead in the System Innovations Stream.

If you are a part of a high school or university-based club, talk to us! You may be eligible to apply the Youth Innovations or Family Innovations Streams. 

Municipal youth councils mandated by and/or funded by the municipality are not eligible to apply. Those that serve as an independent advisory to a region /municipality may be eligible to apply. Talk to us to learn more. 

No. The grassroots group applying to the YOF must be a group/project that is autonomous or independent of any other organization. This means that:

  • The group has the autonomy to design a project according to the needs and priorities they have identified;
  • The group has the autonomy to identify its own leaders, advisors and core team members based on needs and criteria they have identified;
  • The group has the autonomy to choose their own organization mentor 

If your project is approved for funding

Plan to start May 1, 2021

Each year, OTF conducts Compliance Audits of a random sample of grants. Typically, an audit will take place after a progress report has been submitted in the first year of the project. It is important to adhere to the Terms & Conditions of your grant. Keeping good records of spending and tracking project activities will help you to be ready should your grant be audited. Grantees are required to retain all receipts and expenditure records relevant to the grant. If you are approved for a YOF grant, your program manager will provide further information on monitoring your grant.

A proportion of all grant funds are held back until the grantee has submitted the Final Report and OTF has reviewed and verified the satisfactory completion of the grant. For YOF grants, 10% of the grant budget for the final year of the grant is held back. 

For the duration of the grant, groups are expected to: 

  • Implement the project as outlined in the Project Plan
  • Participate in Capacity Building activities 
  • Track activities, spending and learning to complete the annual report
  • Work with an external evaluation team to evaluate the chosen YOF outcome.  

OTF places an emphasis on measuring impact and identifying opportunities for improvement within funded projects. An evaluation plan is required of all YOF grantees.

With the support of a third-party evaluation partner, all YOF funded initiatives are required to develop an evaluation plan and measure their progress towards their selected YOF outcome. Evaluation plans will require the collection of data through surveys, focus groups, and other tools based on needs of the project and community context. 

All Youth Innovation grant recipients will be supported throughout the life of their grant.

This will include one-on-one support, collaborative learning events, and workshops. The YOF seeks to build stronger relationships, encourage knowledge sharing, and foster collaboration with and among grantees. Our aim is to work in partnership with you! 

Organizational Mentors (OM)

An OM is an OTF eligible organization (incorporated non-profit organization, charity, or First Nation) that will provide administrative support, project mentoring, governance and financial accountability to both incorporated and unincorporated grassroots groups delivering YOF projects. Your OM will sign and uphold the grant contract with OTF.

An OM must meet the same criteria as organizations applying to the OTF’s Seed, Grow and/or Capital Streams. For information on the criteria, visit the Organizational Mentors page.

No. You do not need to confirm your OM at the time you submit your EOI. That said, we do strongly recommend that you reach out to prospective OMs and initiate the process if you are working with a new OM or with an OM for the first time. Take time to understand how they will work with your group and if their work aligns with the work you are doing. An OM-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement is required to be submitted if you are shortlisted and submitting a Grant Application. 

Yes. All shortlisted grassroots group must have confirmed their OM by December 16, 2020 when the OM-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement is due. 

Yes. OMs must apply to be an OM and register their organization by December 16, 2020.

Organizations and grassroots groups share responsibility to complete and submit the OM-
Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement
 due December 16, 2020 and the Grant Application due on January 13, 2021. Only shortlisted EOI applicants will be invited to submit a collaborative agreement and Grant Application. Learn more here.

Organizations are invited to apply to be an Organizational Mentor to a YOF grassroots group. 

  • For organizations new to OTF, begin the process by registering your organization and completing the short OM Application Form. 
  • For organizations already registered with the Foundation, login to your organizational profile to access the short OM Application Form.  

If your organization is eligible to be an OM and with your permission, we will share the name of your organization with grassroots groups.

Your organization can only partner with one shortlisted grassroots group per deadline per year. This means you may be an OM to one shortlisted group submitting a Youth Innovations Grant Application or one shortlisted group submitting a Family Innovations Grant Application. As an OM, you may also apply as Lead on a System Innovations Grant.

Overhead and administrative costs incurred by the OM can be included in the budget up to a maximum of 15% of the total request amount.  Please indicate the percentage allocated to overhead and administrative costs in the OM-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement. 

If there is a breakdown or if there are challenges in the relationship, OTF will offer mediation and other supports. If the relationship cannot be recovered, and the OM or group chooses to leave the relationship, the grant will be rescinded. Under certain and exceptional circumstances, a grant may be transferred to a new OM. 

Yes. An organization can apply to other OTF streams and the System Innovations stream in the YOF. 

Yes, however there must be a clear delineation between their role with the grassroots group and their role with the OM. Their role in the organization must also be distinct from their role in the group. This means:

  • The OM has not mandated that this person be a part of the grassroots group as part of their role/responsibilities as an OM staff person.
  • The OM should assign oversight of this project to someone who is not also a member of the group.

This dual role does not compromise the autonomy of the group.