Applying for a grant: what you need to know
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The Law Foundation of Ontario invites applications to apply for a Catalyst grant. The Catalyst program provides nonprofit organizations working to advance access to justice with an opportunity to apply for core funding for three years.
The Foundation understands the importance of providing stable core funding to nonprofit organizations working to provide essential services and fill important gaps in the justice sector. Core funding refers to financial support to cover administrative infrastructure, programs, and essential staff.
The Law Foundation of Ontario makes grants to advance access to justice. Grants are made to nonprofit organizations that work to benefit the people of Ontario.
Legal aid clinics and other organizations that receive core funding from sources other than the Foundation should only apply for funding to support programs and activities outside of those already supported through core funding.
Grants will not be approved for specific litigation or for costs related to lobbying, advocating, or promoting a particular position on a legal or public policy issue.
× For-profit enterprises
× Government and municipalities
× Private and/or corporate foundations
Alignment with the Foundation’s vision, mission, approach, and its statutory objects
- The organization’s mandate and approach to its work must be substantially aligned with the Foundation’s vision, mission, and approach
- The applicant’s work must further the Foundation’s role in supporting public legal education, education about the justice system and rights, pro bono legal services, and a thriving and diverse nonprofit justice sector
- The applicant must have appropriate legal expertise
Proposed work will advance access to justice
The proposed activities should:
- Work toward filling important gaps and/or addressing unmet legal needs in access to justice
- Respond to community needs and priorities
- Demonstrate appropriate community support and involvement
- Address the diverse legal needs of Ontario’s population by providing inclusive services to the public and/or providing specialized services to those most in need of access to justice
- Contribute to equity and inclusion, for racialized communities, low-income communities, persons with mental illnesses, newcomers, linguistic minorities, Indigenous peoples, and those from rural and remote areas of the province
- Ability to provide services in both official languages is an asset
- Ability to provide services in other languages relevant to the population being served is an asset
Applicant has demonstrated strength and capacity
Catalyst is open to nonprofit organizations operating in Ontario or providing benefits to Ontarians. Organizations must be governed by established Boards of Directors with the skills and expertise to provide appropriate oversight and led by staff with the expertise and relationships to further the organizational mandate and meet the goals set out in the application.
In addition, applicants should demonstrate:
- Organization-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Capacity to innovate, lead, convene, partner, evolve and be flexible as required
- Commitment to enhancing, adapting, and innovating programming and approach to best meet the needs of clients
- Knowledge of other leading organizations in the nonprofit justice sector and their work
- Established processes and policies to ensure accountability, transparency, and efficient use of resources with appropriate controls, including audit and financial management
- Reserve fund or available resources, including funding from other sources, must be sufficient given all the circumstances
- Appropriate planning processes, which may include regular preparation of strategic and operational plans
- Plans to develop capacity and support evolution of leadership over time, including succession planning where appropriate
- Access to facilities and infrastructure required to complete the proposed activities or a plan to put those in place
Applicant has viable plan to achieve meaningful impact and to assess that impact
- Application must put forward a clear and viable three-year plan that will materially advance access to justice
- Overall strategy, methodology, and analyses must be well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the planned activities and desired outcomes
- Funding requested must make a difference and be proportionate to the activities proposed
- Applicant must demonstrate ability to assess and evaluate its own effectiveness, to apply learnings, and to evolve over time
- Application should explain how the proposed activities will lead to concrete, measurable, realistic, and sustainable results for the communities served
In assessing applications, the Foundation will consider the applicant’s
- History of collaboration and coalition-building
- Fairness and transparency in dealings with clients, community partners, and funders
- The stability and variability of the applicant’s other funding sources
- Prior history as a recipient of Foundation funds (quality of work, timeliness and thoroughness of reporting, etc.) will be considered, as applicable
There is no cap on the amount of funding organizations can seek. Applicants must be able to demonstrate a persuasive business case for the level of funding requested. Funding should be proportionate to an organization’s overall budget and should not be the organization’s sole funding source. Applicants should bear in mind that the Foundation’s revenues have declined significantly due to the reduction in interest rates.
Determine if you are a good fit for the program by reviewing the website and the FAQs and by speaking to a Grants Officer. We strongly encourage you to speak with a Grants Officer early in the process to discuss your proposal and your organization’s fit with the program.
Successful grant applicants will receive a Letter of Agreement, which will contain Grant Terms & Conditions. We recommend that you review the terms of this Letter of Agreement before you submit an application for funding. Special conditions may be attached to the approval of a grant.
Deadline: June 7, 2021, 5:00 p.m. EST
For more information, please email a Grants Officer.
Frequently asked questions
Eligibility to apply
No. You do not have to be a registered charity to apply for a Catalyst grant.
No. Only nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for a Catalyst grant.
Yes, provided that the entity has an independent Board of Directors and meets the additional eligibility criteria set out in the Catalyst call for applications.
A project can benefit either a single geographic community or several – what matters is that a benefit is provided somewhere in the province.
No. An organization can serve a particular community or group or the general public.
Yes. Organizations based outside Ontario can apply to the Foundation for a grant if it serves people in Ontario.
Legal clinics that receive core funding from Legal Aid Ontario should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process. While we are open to receiving these applications, we will consider them in light of the funding the Foundation already provides to Legal Aid Ontario.
Law schools and/or programs that are associated with law faculties should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process. While we are open to receiving these applications, we will consider them in light of the funding the Foundation already provides to the law schools.
No. Applications from any area of the province are welcome.
No. Applicants must be able to demonstrate a persuasive business case for the funding requested. Funding should also be proportionate to the organization’s overall budget. Foundation funding should not be the organization’s sole funding source.
Applicants should bear in mind that the Foundation’s revenues have declined significantly due to the reduction in interest rates. We anticipate that demand for Catalyst will be high. Listings of Catalyst grants made can be found in our annual reports.
Project funding calls such as the Responsive program provide an opportunity for the Foundation to support new and innovative projects and/or organizations. Catalyst grantees are not barred from applying to other granting programs. However, especially in times of reduced funding, the Foundation does consider its current levels of investment with organizations when reviewing funding applications.
Eligible activities and expenses
Yes. Catalyst funding may be used to cover program costs and a portion of those core operating costs related to the access to justice activities.
Yes, but the Foundation’s funds cannot be used for these activities since the Foundation does not fund costs directly related to lobbying, advocating, or promoting a particular position on a legal or public policy issue.
Unlike our project granting streams, Catalyst provides core funding. As such, funding may be used to purchase capital expenditures such as computers and furniture. The cost of these purchases should be reasonable and proportionate to the access to justice activities. We will not fund capital expenditures for immoveable assets (i.e. buildings).
No. The budget you submit with your application must cover a January to December time period to align with the Catalyst program’s funding schedule. We will accept past budgets and financial statements that use your organization’s fiscal year.
After submitting your application
Once the deadline for submissions has passed, your application will be assigned to a Grants Officer for evaluation. Foundation staff may contact you with questions including requests for additional information or clarifications. It is the responsibility of applicants to respond to all inquiries by Foundation staff in a timely manner. Please ensure that if, for whatever reason, the principle contact responsible for the application is unavailable, that an alternative contact is available to respond. Final granting decisions will be made in the fall.
You will be asked to review and sign a standard Letter of Agreement (LOA), which may also have special conditions attached that are specific to your grant. In general, the first instalment is paid soon after receipt of the signed LOA. Subsequent payments are conditional on submission and review of your program reports. The LOA will contain a schedule of dates for reporting and payment installments.
Catalyst’s three-year cycle was designed to be responsive to evolving access to justice needs and the Foundation’s shifting revenues.
Revenues permitting, leading into each three-year granting cycle, the Foundation will hold an open call for applications. Through this process, we will select a group of grantees. We anticipate that those grantees will continue in the Catalyst program for all three years. Grantees will receive a one-year grant in each year of the three-year cycle provided the work is proceeding appropriately and the grantee is reporting in accordance with the guidelines. In this way, we hope the Catalyst program will support the development and evolution of the nonprofit justice sector.
Entry into one cycle of Catalyst does not ensure success in future calls. There is no assurance of ongoing funding beyond the three-year period of the current Catalyst grant.
If your grant is approved, a payment schedule is developed taking into consideration the information provided in the work plan submitted as part of the grant application. In general, the Foundation makes payments in advance, in accordance with each grantee’s needs, and subject to any special conditions of approval being met.
All grantees are required to submit written activity reports, as well as budget-to-actual financial reports, over the course of the grant. Additionally, the Foundation has common quantitative measures, which you must report on. Interim payments are always conditional upon receipt of required reports, in accordance with the schedule established between the Foundation and the grantee. The reporting and payment schedule will be included in the LOA.