FAQ – Connecting rural regions

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – Connecting rural regions grants

Eligibility to apply

1. Do we have to be a registered charity in order to apply for a Connecting rural regions grant?
No, you need only be a nonprofit corporation, university or community college. If you are a nonprofit with charitable status, please include your registered charity number on your application.

2. Can an individual apply for a Connecting rural regions grant?
No, applications need to be made by a nonprofit organization, a university, or a community college.

3. Can an unincorporated committee apply for a Connecting rural regions grant?
Yes, if administration of the grant can be done through an appropriate accountability structure, e.g. through a law firm in trust or an incorporated nonprofit. If your grant request is approved, the Foundation will require you and your partner to provide a Memorandum of Agreement that sets out clear roles and responsibilities for each of you.

4. Does a proposed project have to benefit more than one geographic community in order to meet the Foundation’s requirement to “provide a benefit to Ontario”?
A project can benefit either a single geographic community or several – what matters is that a benefit is provided somewhere in the province.

5. Can an organization outside Ontario apply to the Foundation for a Connecting rural regions grant?
Yes, organizations based outside Ontario can apply to the Foundation for a grant if the proposed project offers a benefit to the people of Ontario.

6. What criteria does the Foundation use to define “rural”?
The Foundation has a flexible definition of what constitutes a rural region that is best expressed in Connecting Across Language and Distance, a 2008 report that it commissioned and led to the launch of the first Connection region program. The Foundation understands that there are multiple definitions of “rural” and is open to regional efforts that include smaller urban centers as part of this call. We also welcome regional efforts to link rural areas to regional hubs and smaller urban centres.

7. We want to apply for a grant jointly with another organization – can we do this?
Yes, we will accept 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).

8. Are community legal clinics eligible to apply for a Connecting rural regions grant?
Legal clinics that receive core funding from Legal Aid Ontario should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process to ensure their eligibility.

9. I am interested in launching a new program that will coordinate services between community agencies in my region. Is this type of initiative eligible for a Connecting rural regions Stage 1 grant?
No, funds will be used for projects and not to set up programs with ongoing costs beyond the term of the grant. Funds are to be used to improve service integration and coordination and to develop further ideas to improve access to justice in the rural area. Activities may include needs assessment, research, evaluation, and/or convening participating organizations. Stage 1 grants will result in improvements to coordination and integration of existing services and the development of three-to-five time-limited projects that could be pursued to further improve access to justice.

Application process

10. I understand that the Connecting rural regions grant program has two stages. How will those who receive a Stage 1 grant be eligible for Stage 2 funding?
Not all organizations who are successful in the first stage will proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 grants will result in improvements to coordination and integration of existing services and the development of three to five time-limited projects that could be pursued to further improve access to justice. One region may be selected and funded to implement one or more of the projects identified through the Stage 1 grants for a term of up to three years (up to $250,000). Funds from the Stage 2 grants are to be used to implement projects to build capacity and/ or develop new tools and resources that will have a lasting impact on access to justice.

11. Do you have a fixed amount of available funding that is allocated to specific geographic regions?
No. Applications from any rural area of the province are welcome.

12. Do you require an applicant to find funding from other sources?
We encourage partnerships with other funders but it is not a requirement. We encourage all applicants to contribute in-kind services.

13. 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 must indicate in your application to us which other funder(s) you are approaching, the amount you are requesting from them, and the status of your application to them.

14. Do you expect an applicant to have other partners involved in the implementation of the project?
Applications must identify a lead organization and project lead as well as confirmation of participation from no fewer than three social and/or community service organizations and at least one legal organization. Successful applications will engage a range of legal service providers (community legal clinics, legal aid, private bar lawyers, paralegals, students, and academics) and will explain how different organizations with a mix of skills and expertise will contribute to the planned activities.

Eligible costs

15. Will you fund core operating costs for participating organizations 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.

16. I understand that the Foundation will not fund capital expenditures. Are office furniture or computer equipment considered to be capital expenditures?
We will not fund capital expenditures for immoveable assets (i.e., buildings). Usually, applicant organizations will be expected to include equipment or office furniture expenses as in-kind contributions.

17. Can we include the cost of an evaluation in our application?
Yes, the cost of evaluation is an eligible project expense because we believe evaluation results are of value not just to the Foundation but also can help grantees to improve the program and in seeking out other funding sources. Remember, too, that an evaluation does not need to be an expensive, time-consuming undertaking. The evaluation plan should be commensurate with the size and nature of the project being funded.

18. We anticipate using some of the funds to bring various stakeholders together to flesh out how service integration could be achieved. Will the Foundation fund the costs of these gatherings?
Yes, expenses from these gatherings are eligible.

19. We would like to bring a test case. Can we apply to the Foundation for funding?
No. The Foundation will not fund litigation.

20. We would like to lobby government to make needed changes to the legislative and policy environment surrounding our legal issue. Can we apply to the Foundation 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.

After a grant application is approved

21. Our Connecting rural regions grant application has been approved – what happens next?
You will be asked to review and sign a standard Letter of Agreement (click here to see an example in PDF), 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.

22. What is the payment schedule?
The payment schedule is developed taking into consideration the information provided in the work plan included in the grant application, and often also 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 hold-back instalment (typically 10% of the total grant) that is paid out on receipt of the final report.

23. What are your reporting requirements?
All grantees are required to submit written activity reports, as well as budget-to-actual financial reports, over the course of the project. Additionally, grantees must provide a report on relevant quantitative measures. A full final report is required 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. The timing and frequency of reporting is tailored to the circumstances of each project. More information about the Foundation’s reporting requirements can be found on our Reporting guidelines webpage here.