FAQ – Indigenous Peoples’ Legal Needs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Eligibility to Apply

  1. Why is the funding for Indigenous Peoples’ Legal Needs projects/programs limited to certain organizations?
    Foundation staff reviewed our experience to date and conducted research into good practices in Indigenous grant-making. This work emphasized the benefits of developing long-term relationships with grantees. For this reason, we are building on our existing relationships and those of other law foundations across the country. For further information please see our Literature Review.
  2. Can our organization apply for any other stream of funding with the Foundation?
    Yes. If you are not eligible in the Indigenous Peoples’ Legal Needs granting stream under the Access to Justice Fund, you may apply through the Foundation’s Responsive Grants Program, if the project serves Indigenous peoples in Ontario. The Responsive Grants Program enables the Foundation to fund ideas generated by non-profit community groups to improve access to justice. These grants have provided funding for hundreds of innovative projects across Ontario.
  3. Do we have to be a registered charity in order to apply for a grant?
    No, you need only be a non-profit corporation, university or community college. If you are a non-profit with charitable status, please include your registered charity number on your application.
  4. Can a government-run program apply for a grant?
    The Foundation will consider applications from Indigenous governmental organizations.
  5. Can an individual apply for a grant?
    No, applications need to be made by a non-profit organization, a university or a community college, or Indigenous governmental organization.
  6. Can a commercial venture apply for a grant?
    No. The Foundation will not fund work for a commercial venture project or program.
  7. Does a proposed project have to benefit more than one geographic community?
    Applications to the Access to Justice Fund may provide a benefit anywhere in Canada. It may be local, regional, provincial, or national in scope. You should indicate the geographic community or communities that will benefit in your Letter of Intent and application.
  8. Can an organization outside Ontario apply to the ATJF for a grant?
    Yes, the Access to Justice Fund is a national fund.
  9. We want to apply for a grant jointly with another organization from another province – can we do this?
    Yes, we accept and encourage joint applications. However, you must indicate clearly which organization will assume lead responsibility for the grant if it is approved (this is the organization that will be expected to sign the Foundation’s Letter of Agreement and be accountable for reporting on finances and activities).
  10. Do you require an applicant to have other partners involved in the project?
    No, however, we encourage partnerships. If your project lends itself to partnerships we encourage you to look into those possibilities. If, in your application, you indicate the intent to partner with another organization, you should include a written statement of commitment from the partner(s).
  11. We are interested in doing a project that does not include any legal content. Is this acceptable?
    No. All projects must have a legal component.
  12. We would like to bring a test case. Can we apply to the ATJF for funding?
    No. The Foundation will not fund litigation.
  13. We would like to lobby government to make needed changes to the legislative and policy environment to protect Indigenous peoples’ rights. Can we apply to the Access to Justice Fund for funding?
    No. The Foundation will not fund costs directly related to lobbying, advocating or promoting a particular position on a legal or public policy issue.


University/College Applications

  1. I am a faculty member at a university and would like to apply to the Access to Justice Fund for a research project. Does the Foundation require institutional sign-off on the application?
    Yes. We request that you include confirmation that your department/faculty head or other appropriate institutional authority is aware of and supports your application.
  2. In order to carry out this research project, I will need two course releases. Can I include the cost of a replacement instructor to cover my course releases?
    Because teaching is a core responsibility of any university, we will not fund course releases. However, we will fund other expenses associated with the proposed research, including the hiring of students as research assistants.
  3. I am a full time faculty member at a university. In addition to teaching, I also undertake research. Can I include the cost of my time to work on this research project?
    As a general matter, absent special circumstances, full time faculty at a college or university will not be personally compensated for research undertaken on a project that falls within their own research agenda and/or their institutional research obligations. However, we will fund other expenses associated with the proposed research, including the hiring of students as research assistants
  4. Do you fund “indirect costs” which are applied to grants by my university/college?
    Generally, no. The Law Foundation of Ontario does not usually fund indirect costs applied by universities or colleges to recover administrative overhead for the project.
  5. Can development officers contact the LFO to discuss potential or ongoing grant applications on behalf of researchers?
    The Law Foundation of Ontario prefers to directly communicate with the individual who is proposing or conducting the research in case there are specific questions about the project. However, a development officer is welcome to join the primary researcher on any calls that may be scheduled.

Application Process

  1. Do I need to submit a Letter of Intent regardless of the amount being sought?
  2. If we have identified other potential funders for our project idea, do you require us to provide confirmation of their commitment before you will consider our application to you?
    No, you do not need to have a commitment from your other funder(s), but you should indicate in your application to us which other funder(s) you are approaching, the amount(s) you are requesting from them, and the status of your application(s) to them.
  3. Should I contact the Foundation prior to submitting a Letter of Intent?
    We encourage potential applicants to contact Foundation staff with any questions prior to submitting a Letter of Intent. Please contact Kirsti Mathers McHenry, Director of Policy and Programs, at 416-598-1550 x 310 or kmathersmchenry@lawfoundation.on.ca.
  4. What happens after my Letter of Intent is received?
    The Foundation will consider whether to invite a full application. It will advise you whether or not a full application is invited. Once a full application is invited and received, the Foundation will decide whether to make the grant.


Eligible Costs

  1. Will you fund core operating costs associated with a project? If so, do you fund on the basis of a set percentage of total project costs?
    Yes, we will fund core operating costs if they can be shown to be directly related to the project. Rather than cover such costs on the basis of a flat percentage, we prefer to fund on the basis of actual need, so your application should demonstrate the connection between the project and the expense.
  2. I understand that the Foundation will not fund capital expenditures. Are office furniture or computer equipment considered to be capital expenditures?
    We will generally not fund capital expenditures for immoveable assets (i.e., buildings) absent compelling circumstances. Usually, applicant organizations will be expected to include equipment or office furniture expenses as in-kind contributions.


After a Grant Application is Approved

  1. Our grant application has been approved―what happens next?
    You will be asked to review and sign a standard Letter of Agreement 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 Letter of Agreement and remaining instalments are paid in accordance with the schedule drawn up to suit your particular project. We encourage you to review the Letter of Agreement before you submit a Letter of Intent.
  2. What is the payment schedule?
    The payment schedule is developed in consultation with the grantee. 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. The Foundation makes every effort to accommodate special requirements (for instance, where significant expenses have to be incurred at an early stage of the project). For all projects, the final payment is a small hold-back instalment that is paid out on receipt of the final report.
  3. What are your reporting requirements?
    Reporting requirements are tailored to the circumstances of each project. All grantees are required to submit budget-to-actual financial reports. In addition, grantees may be asked to submit interim progress reports. All grantees are required to submit a final report in order to receive payment of the final grant instalment. Instalment payments are always conditional upon receipt of required reports, in accordance with the schedule established between the Foundation and the grantee. We encourage you to read the Reporting Guidelines here.