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Grants to Ontario Grassroots Organizations to Support Youth and Young Adults

Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) - Youth Innovations Test Grant


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF)
Array ( )

Geographic Focus

Important Dates
LOI Date: 08/23/23
Deadline: 11/15/23 5:00 PM EST Save

Grant Description
Grants to Ontario grassroots organizations to support youth and young adults. Applicants must submit a letter of interest prior to submitting a full application. Funding is intended for activities to positively benefit the community by helping applicants research new ideas and concepts, strategize on actions the group can take, or develop or pilot an idea or approach. Priority will be given to projects led by and for Indigenous youth and Black youth. Projects must benefit young people ages 12-25, and/or 12-29 for youth living with special needs and/or disabilities.

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

Three types of projects qualify for a Test grant. 

  • Pilot a new project idea: This type of project focuses on trying out a new idea that has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. For example:
    • Start a new project that supports youth to learn a new skill
    • Adapt and pilot an idea that has been tested in other parts of the province to meet the needs of your community
    • Create a space that honors youth wellbeing and creativity
    • Connect youth to knowledge of land, culture and language
    • Support youth to navigate systems (such as education, health, child welfare, justice)
    • The idea your group wants to test must align with one of the Youth Innovations Priority Outcomes.
  • Research an issue or new concept: Choose this project type if your group wants to learn and understand more about a specific topic or issue. For example:
    • Develop participatory research about an experience youth face
    • Explore something new in your community that can be enhanced through technology
    • Discover how something new may impact youth in your community
    • Consider how your group will conduct the 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 your group chooses this project type, the research topic must align with one of the Youth Innovations Priority Outcomes.
  • Strategize around an issue affecting YOF youth: This is an opportunity to bring youth together to discuss an issue and explore new approaches collectively with youth and community. Depending on your group’s aims and the stage of the discussion, what you learn could include:
    • Understand an issue and its impact on your community
    • Discover who is already working on an issue, who is joining the conversation, and who might be left out
    • Develop some common goals or strategies to respond to the issue
    • Come up with next steps as a collective
    • The focus of your group’s strategizing work must align with one of the Youth Innovations Priority Outcomes. 

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 labor 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 

Primary Beneficiaries and Eligible Expenses can be found on the Full Grant Text RFP link.


Additional Eligibility Criteria
Groups that apply for a Youth Innovations grant need to meet the following requirements:
- 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 youth they are working with and for
- The group is based in Ontario
- The group serves youth over 12 years of age as its primary mandate
- 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
- The group operates as either a youth-led group or a youth-adult partnership:

A youth-led group is a group that:
• Has all individuals aged 29 or under at the governance or decision-making level
• Has youth, 12 to 29 years old, managing the project (from planning to implementation and evaluation)

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

Adult-led youth partnership is when adults, 30 years of age and over, have brought youth together to build out an idea and have a significant role in decision-making about the project and group. Over time, adults will:
• Have a reduced role in the partnership and will ensure the leadership of youth to drive the work.
• Create space for youth to take on more responsibility in planning, delivering of activities and establishing plans for the future of the project and group.
• Note: This type of leadership is only applicable in Test grants.

Exception: Adult groups with all members up to the age of 35 can apply if they are looking to advance the following YOF Priority Outcome: Supporting youth in and/or leaving care and/or involved in the justice system to navigate and access resources for wellbeing.

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 composed of all team members ages 30 years or older (all-adult teams)
- Groups/projects based at an existing organization (not-for-profit or for profit)
- Groups specifically designed to serve young people through committees or clubs of institutions, including municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals
- For-profit organizations and businesses
- Individuals

Ineligible expenses:
- 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

Pre-Proposal Conference
Information webinars are available.
Please check this link for more information and to register:

Pre-Application Information
Important Dates and Deadlines:
- Expression of Interest available: May 31, 2023
- Expression of Interest deadline: August 23, 2023 at 5 PM ET
- Notification of status of EOI: Approximately 6 weeks after EOI deadline
- Grant Application deadline and deadline to register the Organizational Mentor: November 15, 2023, 5 PM ET
- Notification of funding decision: Approximately 8 weeks after the grant application deadline
- Organization Mentor Application: Open year round
- Start date for all Grants: March 1, 2024

All grassroots groups applying for a Youth Innovations grant must partner with an Organizational Mentor and enter into a collaborative agreement.

Organizational Mentor information:

Estimated Size of Grant
Minimum: N/A
Maximum: $100,000

Term of Contract
Term Length:
- Minimum 1 year
- Maximum 3 years

Contact Information
Apply Online:

To book a one-to-one coaching call, see the Full Grant Text RFP link.

Direct questions to:
1-800-263-2887 or email for immediate support.

Ontario Trillium Foundation (c/o Workhaus)
30 Wellington St. West, 5thFloor
Toronto, ON M5L 1E2

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