Shahina is the Program Manager for ArtReach Toronto, a funding program that supports arts initiatives that engage youth who have experienced exclusion. She provides consultation to youth-led groups in developing skills to manage and generate support for their initiatives. She also developed the GOAL Youth Capacity Building Workshop Series in partnership with other funders, organizations and youth groups.
Shahina is the former Executive Director of For Youth Initiative (FYI), a youth-led organization in the west end of Toronto. She acquired charitable status and United Way membership for FYI and in her role as Mentorship Coordinator, she compiled a resource kit entitled, "Standing on the Shoulders of Those Before Us, Youth Organizing in the City of Toronto." shahina served as a founding member of the Grassroots Youth Collaborative (GYC), a collective of youth-led organizations and groups in Toronto and was awarded the Vital People Grant Award from Toronto Community Foundation in 2004. She was co-author of a report entitled "Thinking about Tomorrow's Space Today: Youth Recreational Programming in the Former City of York" in 2005, and she co-authored a Ryerson University Structural Social Work textbook chapter entitled, "Envisioning structural social work practice: The case of Grassroots Youth Collaborative" published in 2009.
Shahina developed and is Chair of the FYI Scholarship Fund, a volunteer-driven initiative created in memory of two Toronto youth lost to gun violence in 2005. She is a member of the Youth Social Infrastructure advisory committee for Laidlaw Foundation.
I work as a Community Development Officer with the City of Toronto. In this role, I work in the Jane-Finch community with youth groups, residents, community organizations, institutions and City partners to improve opportunities in youth employment, youth engagement, youth justice and community/family supports. I also work with the Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC). The TYC is a youth driven advocacy organization which strives to improve the quality of life for Toronto's youth.
Before working with the City, I worked in policy and grants with the Ontario Region of the Department of Canadian Heritage. In this role, I helped with the early development of the Grassroots Youth Collaborative, a network of youth led organizations. I was also involved in the creation of ArtReach Toronto, and the first Ignite Youth Arts Conference in Toronto, in partnership with youth organizations and other funders.
I am currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of Schools Without Borders (SWB). SWB plays an integral role in grassroots community development in Toronto and around the world. I also volunteer with For Youth Initiative's (FYI) Scholarship Fund, and worked with FYI to author "Exploring Empowering Education for Marginalized Youth in Toronto."
I attended Trent University, where I studied Native Studies and Women's Studies, and the University of Toronto, where I completed my Masters in Social Work.
On Grant Opportunities?
The first step is to think about where you will apply for funds:
Google - There is a lot of information on public, foundation and corporate funders on the web.
Network - Talk to other groups or organizations who have similar programs. Ask them about their funding sources and for tips on proposal writing tailored to specific funders.
Check promotional materials of other groups with similar activities or programs (i.e.: Annual General Reports, program flyers, websites).
Attend events and conferences in your field - funders are away from their desks and often more approachable.
Most funders will provide you with two documents:
1. Funding Guidelines
These guidelines include important information, such as:
Mandate and Priorities: A description of the funder's purpose, and their current funding priorities.
Eligibility: A description of the types of organizations or groups eligible to apply for the grant (i.e. incorporated non-profits, charitable organizations, institutions, or groups). The funder may also have some specific requirements, such as geographic area, age-group, project focus (i.e. Arts).
Assessment Criteria: An explanation of how funding decisions will be made.
Timelines: An outline of when the funding application is due, and when decisions will be made.
2. Funding Application
Most funders will provide you with a funding application package that includes the questions you need to answer, as well as workplan and budget templates.
• Read over the guidelines and application carefully before contacting the funder or writing the proposal. Most funders will make these documents available online.
• If the application asks you to hand in a workplan and budget, but templates are not provided, ask the funder if they have templates for you to work from. This way you will be sure to provide the specific information they are looking for.
Find the right funder: it isn't worth trying to fit into a program that isn't right for you or your organization.
Review the eligibility criteria and priorities of the funder: make sure you are eligible to apply, and that the fund is a good fit with your project idea, before getting to work.
Check the reporting requirements, if you can, to make sure they are manageable. Most funders will require a final report upon completion of the project, and others may require a progress report at the half way point, plus more. i.e.: If the funder requires a quarterly report and cash flow statement, do you have the resources to keep up with all this and the project?
Ensure you try and find out as much about the program as possible before contacting funding staff, through reading their materials and visiting their website.
Always talk to, and if possible, meet with the funder you're applying to. They can let you know right away if your project is a good fit for their program and can often give you great advice on how to frame your proposal. If not, they may be able to refer you to an appropriate funder.
Ask if you can submit a draft version of your funding proposal for feedback before the deadline.
Sections Of A Proposal?
- Background Information
- Description of Community Need
- Project Idea
- Objectives - Activities that will help you achieve your objectives
- Person(s) responsible for each activity
- Outcomes of your activities
- Resources needed
- Evaluation methods
Most funders will provide you with a cover sheet that you have to fill out. If not, it is a good idea to include a brief cover letter that includes:
- A clear, short overview of your group or organization
- The purpose of your project
- The amount of the funding request
- An explanation of how the proposal fits within the funder's priorities, and meets the eligibility of the granting program
Tip: Cover letters should be typed on letterhead, if you have one.
Description Of Your Group
This section introduces you to the funder. Describe your group's background and how you came together, your brief funding history, and highlight your accomplishments. This is your chance to show that you are qualified to run the project you described.
- Individual/group/organization identity and purpose, population you work with and the geographic area you work in.
- Brief summary of your history, mission and goals.
- Brief description of your current programs, activities, and statistics.
- You or your group's major strengths and accomplishments.
- Advisory committee members or mentors (if applicable)
- Number of board members, full time paid staff, part-time paid staff, and volunteers (if applicable).
This is just a sample - check what the funder is looking for in terms of length and content.
XXX is a by youth for youth agency that uses urban culture, including hip hop music, to engage youth. The organization supports youth in XXX and XXX neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto. XXX existed as a project for 5 years and incorporated as a non-profit in the year 2000.
The mission of the organization states "XXX is an organization committed to creating healthy communities by increasing life-chances of youth. We will do this through the provision of empowering programs and services that are youth-driven, inclusive and accessible."
Our main programs include culture and arts production, employment training, and alternative education. Youth are involved in all aspects of decision-making and governance. There is youth representation on the board, and the majority of staff, volunteers and placement students are youth. Youth participants are involved in decisions such as hiring processes, program planning, implementation and evaluation as well as strategic planning and visioning. The agency served 500 youth in the year 2009, with 12 board members, 4 full-time and 3 part-time staff as well as 75 program and special events volunteers.
• Highlight your accomplishments
• Mention your previous pilot projects or programs
• It is OK if you are a new organization: focus on who you are and why you formed your group
• Having volunteers is significant as it shows the funder that you have support, and people that believe in your initiative. Include this, and any other information that shows community support.
Of Community Need
Describe your specific situation, issues, need, and the community your proposal addresses.
Support all of this by including research/evidence where you can, to justify the need or problem in your community, with the population you are working with. You can include personal stories about the people you are working with and how your project will help them. Try to offer a balance between anecdotal information (i.e.: quotes or input from community members) and references to research and studies.
The following are examples. Be sure to check the funder guidelines so you know what information they are looking for.
When describing the target group/community, make sure to include the following:
Description of target population (male/female or both, specific age group, ethno-cultural background, geographic area etc).
This project will engage young women between the ages of 18 and 24, residing in the Regent Park area of Toronto. The project will involve mostly Black and Asian youth, who make the majority of Regent Park's population. According to 2001 data from Statistics Canada, Regent Park's largest ethno-racial communities are Black (22%), South Asian (21.8%), Chinese (14.1%) and Southeast Asian (10.6%). There is a demonstrated need for youth programs in this area, as there is a significantly higher than average children and youth population (Statistics Canada). See the section on Research Statistics for a list of resources to help you get started (pg.27)
Description of what the target population would like to do, the need and the benefits of the project for the community
Media arts programming has been found to be particularly effective in engaging young people. According to a 2005 report by the Grassroots Youth Collaborative, entitled, Youth on Youth: Grassroots Youth Collaborative on Youth Led Organizing in the City of Toronto, "The use of popular culture and the arts as a medium of engagement (digital media arts in particular), was also found to be particularly effective in attracting youth to youth-led programming, affording youth a highly needed and valued expressive outlet and medium to negotiate personal, social and cultural issues and concerns."
The youth staff and outreach workers have heard from the female program participants that there is a need and desire for a program that provides young women with training in media arts and consistent access to a studio space. Such a program will fill a gap in programming, as young women have been underrepresented in our current media arts programs. The program will also provide participants with an opportunity to develop transferable skills that could be applied to education or employment.
Your group or organization's current contact and relationship with the community / population, how you are working WITH them on the project
XXX is a community-driven, youth-led organization. The organization is based in the community we work with, and most of the staff and board members are residents of the community we serve. Ensuring our programs are responsive to the community is at the forefront of the work we do. The project was developed with a high level of input from program participants, who will also be hired, trained and involved in the delivery and evaluation of the project. We also strive to act as a resource to the broader community, who are invited to attend our open houses and special events. Our programs are regarded as a community asset, as we are providing a healthy outlet for our participants' creativity and energy. We are also providing a positive space that demonstrates the artistic skills of young community members, strengthening the community as a whole.
Partnerships: other groups, community members or agencies that you are going to work with
XXX has strong relationships with the schools, local businesses, artists and other community programs operating in the area such as XXX, XXX, and XXX. For this project, we have partnered with XX business who will be donating program snacks once per month. We are also partnering with XX employment program, who will be referring participants to the program and providing translation of printed materials. Lastly, Toronto Community Housing will be providing us with access to free programming space once per month.
• Be creative! Use quotes from newspaper articles, local youth zines or other sources to back up what you are trying to prove.
• Be strategic. Refer to research developed by the funding organization to which you are submitting the proposal. For example, if you are applying to United Way Toronto, include their research and statistics in your application.
• Make sure that you clearly demonstrate the needs of the community, but also how your initiative will address this need, and that you are not parachuting in to solve the issue (i.e.: do you live or work in the community? What partnerships have you built?). This may happen in another section of your proposal, but it is crucial to link your ability to address the issues at hand, and how your approach is different if there are other agencies or groups doing similar work in the community or neighbourhood you are proposing to work within.
Most funding programs support projects, not programs. Programs are your ongoing activities. Programs take place year to year with little variation, and are at the centre of your organization's mandate. Projects have specific activities taking place within a specific timeframe (with a beginning, middle and end) to address an issue or meet a need in the community. Include a short description of your project idea that clearly describes:
- What you intend to do
- Who you will be working with as partners to deliver the project (if any)
- Who you will be working with as participants in the project
- Major activities
• Do not try to do too much. Design a project that is manageable within the available funds.
• Write down the who, what, where, when: this is the heart of the grant.
• Make a summary statement at the beginning of the project description, then expand on it.
Many funders will ask you to complete a one word workplan on a chart. This is your chance to clearly describe your project to the funder. Most workplan templates are made up of different sections that may include:
- Activities that will help you achieve your objectives
- Person(s) responsible for each activity
- Outcomes of your activities, including impacts on the participants and community
- Resources needed
- Evaluation methods - It can be a bit tricky to know exactly what information the funder is looking for under each section. If you have doubts - ask.
Goals are the large statements of what you hope to accomplish but usually aren't very measurable. They create the setting for what you are proposing and describe the overall impact of your project. Try to include only one or two overall goals.
Your objectives describe what you are hoping to achieve. They should flow from your goal(s) and be measurable. They often start with 'to increase' or 'to decrease.'
"Keep them S-I-M-P-L-E."
Your objectives should be:
Specific - state what you intend to change through your project.
Immediate - talk about the time frame during which the problem will be addressed.
Measurable - what you measure to know if your project is a success.
Practical - indicate how each objective is a real solution to a real problem.
Logical - indicate how each objective contributes to achieving your overall goal(s).
Evaluable - Indicate how much change has to occur for the project to be effective.
The activities are the specific tasks you will need to complete to accomplish your project's objectives. Describe your activities in detail and in order from the start date to the end date of the project. Try to show what is unique about your approach and why you think it will work.
List the people who will be responsible for each activity. This could include staff, volunteers, advisory committees or working groups. It may also include project partners that you have confirmed to help you with your project.
Include the date you will begin and conclude each activity. If you are applying for a one year project, the timeline will show what will take place over the entire year of the project.
If you are applying for an ongoing initiative, only include the activities that will take place with the funds you are applying for.
Tell the funder what impact your project will have ó what will change as a result of your project. This is linked to the goals and objectives of your project.
The outputs are the short-term results of your project - the direct products of your activities (measurable results). The outputs may be linked to your objectives.
The outcomes are the long-term results of your initiative and the impact on the participants and community. The outcomes of your project can be difficult to measure. The outcomes should be linked to your project's goal(s).
This section will describe what resources you will need to complete each activity. Resources may include:
People (staff, volunteers, facilitators, or resource people)
Space (for meetings, workshops or activities)
Program Resources (transportation costs for participants, food, supplies, website design, flyers)
Equipment (i.e. - cameras for photography program)
What will you do to evaluate each activity? (See evaluation section below).
• The workplan should show how each section is connected. For example, how the activities flow from the objectives, and how the resources needed fit with the proposed activities.
• List your specific objectives in no more than one or two sentences each, in the order that they will take place.
• Don't confuse your objectives with your activities. A good objective emphasizes what you hope to achieve, whereas an activity will explain what you will do.
• Be sure to include all of the resources needed identified in your workplan in your budget.
• Include enough detail to clearly show how the project will be carried out. Do not include the extremely minor day to day tasks (such as responding to emails).
• Write with confidence ('We will provide a six-month film training project for ten youth' versus 'we would or we could provide a six-month film training project for ten youth')
• Typically, funds may only be used for activities that will take place after the funding decision has been made. Ask your funder for a realistic start date for your workplan.
• If your project is funded, the workplan will help you in getting started and keeping your project on track.
• Most funders will provide you with a budget template that you have to fill in.
Project Title: "Youth Arts Project" (Include your project's title)
Goal: Improve access to quality arts opportunities and mentorship for youth living in Toronto's North West communities. Increase the profile and professional development of local youth artists.
This is not a complete workplan. One sample row has been provided.
|Objectives are short term and measurable. All of your objectives will contribute to meeting your project's goal(s). They often start with 'to increase' or 'to decrease'||Your activities should flow from your objectives: what will you do to meet each objective? Who will do what?||For example:
August 15-September 15, 2007
|How will you know you have met this objective? What information do you need to collect AND what tool will you use (e.g. interviews, surveys, staff reports and observations, participation statistics)?|
|Increase the artistic and leadership skills of youth ages 16 to 22 from Toronto's northwest neighbourhoods.
*Be sure to list all your project's objectives in an order that relates to your activities (activities are listed in the next column).
*You can have more than one activity to accomplish each objective.
|Design and deliver weekly 2 hour classes for groups of 10 youth each over six weeks in 5 Toronto Community Housing locations in northwest Toronto, taught by youth dancers and leaders, with guest instructors. One hour will be focused on dance and the other hour will be leadership training. (Try to include a weekly breakdown of each workshop topic.)
*Be sure to include all major activities, from outreach, to project delivery, to wrap-up and evaluation.
|July-August 2010||Informal focus groups conducted by project coordinator.
Surveys completed by program participants.
Statistics, including the number of participants who attended each class, collected by attendance sign-in sheets.
*Be sure to include evaluation methods for each major activity.
The most common budget categories include:
- Staffing Expenses (i.e. - program staff, administrative staff, artists, workshop facilitators etc)
- Program Expenses (i.e. - art supplies, transportation, honorariums, special event costs, rental fees, food, training, outreach, website design, printing, translation, accommodations)
- Administrative Expenses (i.e.: payroll, bookkeeping, phone, fax, printing for the duration of the project)
- Capital Cost Expenses (i.e. - equipment, space improvements)
- Evaluation Expenses
Make your budget realistic. Carefully think through exactly what you will need from the funding agency to carry out the project and establish your budget around this amount.
Make sure you list income (grants, fundraising) and expenses in your budget, and state whether the income is unconfirmed or confirmed.
Make sure all expenses listed are eligible. Double check your budget to ensure that your revenues and expenses add up. Include realistic numbers, and provide breakdowns for each budget item. (i.e. - Venue rental: $100 per hour x 2 hours/session x 16 sessions = $3200 for four months)
Most budgets include some in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions are donations of resources. This can include staff time, administration, equipment, meeting space and much more. They may be provided by your organization or your project's partners. In-kind contributions are non-monetary contributions that would have been actual expenses if they were not provided by your group or partner organizations. Try to assign a dollar value to your in-kind contributions so you can include them in your budget. Having in-kind contributions demonstrates that you have other supports for your project.
• Be sure all the numbers add up correctly!
• If you are applying to more than one funder for the same project: do not ask both funders to fund the same items. Show what items you are asking another funder to pay for.
• Ensure all items you are asking the funder to pay for are eligible expenses. Some funders may not fund purchasing of equipment or prizes, for example.
• Make sure the budget and workplan are in line with each other. These two documents are often compared when funding decisions are being made.
One sample has been provided in each category. This is not a complete budget.
|Budget Item||A. Total Budgeted Amount||B. Amount of Funds from Other Funders and In-Kind Contributions||C. Source of Funding/Resources for Column B||Amount Requested From Funder|
|Coordinator($15/hr x 12 hrs/week x 52 weeks)||$9,360||$4,000||Grant from local Arts Council||$5,360|
|List all staffing expenses, and detailed breakdown of hours, pay and weeks.|
|Artists/Mentors Contract Fees or Honorarium* Payments :6 month commitment($1000 x 5 artists)||$5,000||$3,000||Grant from local Arts Council||$2,000|
|TTC tokens for participants (10 participants x 2 tokens @ $2.50 x 24 meetings)||$1,200||$1,200|
|Space for workshops,planning the show,holding practice sessions ($20/hr x 30hrs/month x 6 months)||$3,600||$3,600||Donated spacein a recreationroom from local community centre||$0|
|List all program expenses and include detailed breakdown of each expense (such as facilitator and participant honorariums, supplies, venues, food transportation, etc.)|
|Administration Fees (phone, fax, bookkeeping, cheques, etc.)||$1,000||$1,000|
|List any additional administrative expenses such as insurance etc.|
|Digital SLR Camera||$500||$500|
|List all capital expenses necessary to complete the project, such as, equipment, video cameras, etc. If you are asking for money for capital expenses from the funder, be sure they are eligible and realistic. Get 2 or 3 quotes for each major capital expense.|
|Total||Add total of above column||Add total of above column||Add total of above column||Add total of above column|
*Honorariums are lump sum payments for work completed that is short-term in nature and usually for specific tasks. For example, honorariums often provided for flyer design, guest speakers and workshop facilitators as youth advisory members.
It's important to describe in your proposal exactly how you will decide whether or not your project has been successful and has achieved its objectives. Evaluation is also important to ensure that the participants in your program are benefitting from your project's activities, and that you are making changes along the way to address their needs. It is crucial to implement evaluation activities throughout the project, as well as at the end.
• Try to include ways to get feedback on the project while it is being conducted as well as when the project is complete.
• It is easier to create an evaluation plan if you have done a good job of clearly stating your project objectives.
• It's a good idea to mention;1) the tool you will use; 2) how it will be used and, 3) what information you will collect.
• A good evaluation plan should include concern for what goes on after the end of the funding period. How will the initiatives that have been started through the project be sustained? How will the project, or parts of it, continue in the future?
• Try to make direct connections to your objectives in your evaluation plan. This creates consistency within your proposal.
• Don't over-evaluate! Participants may feel overwhelmed if they are asked to use evaluation tools too often.
• Choose the right evaluation tool for the population you are working with (i.e.: don't use evaluation forms if working with young people with literacy issues).
• Be creative - there are many effective evaluation techniques that will help you to gather information and data, which are also engaging and fun.
The funder may ask you how your project will be sustained after the activities are completed and the money is spent. It may be difficult to predict what will happen at the end of your project, but it is important to keep in mind how you may be able to ensure that what you started may continue.
Some ways to sustain the project idea could include:
• Applying for grants from other funders to continue the project or certain parts of the project that were especially successful.
• Fundraising activities, which may include asking for individual donations or organizing fundraising events such as parties, car washes or bake sales.
• Working with partners who have the resources to continue parts of the project.
• Combining the project with other activities of your organization.
Funders may ask for additional materials to get more information about you. Examples of additional information/documents include:
List of other current funding sources and uses
Biographies or resumes of key people
Samples of artistic works, pictures, film clips
Certificate of Incorporation (Letters Patent)
Proof of charitable status
By-Laws or policies
Board of Directors/steering or advisory committee list
Financial statements for last fiscal year (audited)
Current general operating budget for your organization
Read the application carefully: be sure to follow instructions and answer all questions. Answer each question directly (e.g. What are the short term objectives of your project? The short term objectives of the project are to:).
Consider using the language of the funder: most funders have key phrases and concepts that they like to see reflected in applications. These are most often described in the guidelines. You've heard it before - best practices, audience development, innovative project, youth engagement, capacity building, etc. Also, be sure to speak about the project with your own voice, and don't use terms that you don't like.
Proofread all of your materials, and do a final edit. Make sure you spell check your proposal, and that all the numbers add up correctly in the budget.
Present your full proposal neatly, professionally, and in an organized package. Type and single-space all proposals. Write, organize and present your proposal in the order listed in the application and guidelines. Only include the information and materials specifically requested by the grantmaker.
Unless required, do not include an index or table of contents, and do not bind the proposal (only use paper clips unless the funder specifies something else). Be sure to sign it and include the number of photocopies requested by the grantmaker. Be sure to submit the package on time. Some funders will not accept a proposal even five minutes after the deadline!
Ask someone who is not familiar with your proposal to read a draft copy. Ask them to explain the project to you, based on what they just read. See if they can answer questions about the project. Do they get the idea? Do they understand the details and how the project will work? That will help you to understand your application's strengths and weaknesses so you can improve it.
Relax and reward yourself - developing a proposal is a lot of work.
Wait for the results. It will take at least two to six months to find out if you were successful in acquiring a grant.
Save the electronic copy of your proposal. This is very important as you can use bits and pieces of your grant in future applications and proposals. Make sure you keep a hard copy of the proposal in a file with any letters you receive from the funder.
Always follow up and find out why you didn't get the grant, and what you can do differently next time. You may want to consider re-applying to the fund, or asking for a referral to another funding organization that may be a better fit with your project idea. Building a relationship with the funder can help you in the future.
Complete all the required reports so you'll be able to re-apply next year. Show funders the results of your work: send them a copy of newspaper articles, radio interviews or other accomplishments. Be sure to invite them to events related to the funded project as well as your agency events such as Annual General Meetings etc.
Don't send out generic proposals. It's OK to use bits of old proposals, but make sure each grant is specific to the funder you are applying to.
Here are some sources of statistics and research reports to help you get started:
Youth on Youth: Grassroots Youth Collaborative on Youth Led Organizing in the City of Toronto (2005), by the Grassroots Youth Collaborative http://www.grassrootsyouth.ca
City of Toronto, Ward Profiles Website: http://app.toronto.ca/wards/jsp/wards.jsp
City of Toronto Reports and Publications: http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/
Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/
Strong Neighbourhoods: A Call to Action (2005) by the Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force, United Way and the City of Toronto: http://www.unitedwaytoronto.com/whatWeDo/reports/strongNeighbourhoods.php
United Way Reports (incl. Poverty by Postal Code, Torontonians Speak Out, Decade of Decline etc): http://www.uwgt.org/who_we_help/social_issues_uw_reports.html
Toronto District School Board http://www.tdsb.on.ca/_site/ViewItem.asp?siteid=263&menuid=5421&pageid=4737
Hill Strategies: Research for the Arts http://www.hillstrategies.com
Charity Village www.charityvillage.com The Charity Village web site is Canada's supersite for the non-profit sector. At this site you will find thousands of pages of news, jobs, information and resources for boards, staff, donors and volunteers.
Grassroots Youth Collaborative (GYC) http://www.grassrootsyouth.ca/ The GYC is committed to community development and local youth organizing in the City of Toronto. The website contains links to youth groups and agencies in Toronto, as well as various nonprofit resources.
Toronto Youth Cabinet http://thetyc.ca/ Connections to youth services in Toronto and the Toronto Youth Cabinet.
Department of Justice Canada http://canada.justice.gc.ca This site contains information on services, statistics, current issues for youth and the justice system.
The following grant writing resources were consulted in the development of this resource guide: