OTF’s Investment Strategy
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OTF’s Investment Strategy

September 22, 2019


Hello and welcome to this presentation.
My name is Clare Nolan and I’m a program manager at the Ontario Trillium
Foundation. I would like to start by expressing gratitude and appreciation
for the indigenous people whose land we reside on. At OTF we know that our work
and the work of our grantees takes place on indigenous territory across Ontario. Today’s session is going to be all about
the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s investment strategy. We will focus on
understanding the outcomes and results OTF targets as well as the size and
scope of projects OTF funds. We will start with an overview of the investment
strategy, then we’ll cover OTF’s action areas ( which define the outcomes and
results OTF targets) and then we’ll finish with OTF’s investment streams,
which define the different sizes and scopes of projects OTF funds. So let’s
now look at the roots of OTF’s investment strategy. Historically, gross
domestic product has been used to measure the health of the economy but
what couldn’t be measured by GDP was whether the well-being of Canadians was
improving alongside the growth of the gross domestic product. The Canadian
Index of Well-being uses eight domains that focus on key aspects of life to
measure quality of life for Canadians. Each domain has eight individual
indicators for a total of 64 indicators. So how does OTF strategy fit with the
Canadian Index of Well-being? OTF’s investment model focuses on six
action areas and these action areas were chosen based on alignment with twelve of
the canadian index of well-being indicators. The 12 Canadian Index of
Well-being indicators act as our north stars and they help OTF achieve our
vision. The six action areas outline our vision
and what we aspire to achieve through our investments. The CIW indicators help
us measure our long-term impact in the various action areas; chosen based on
evidence and what we are best able to influence given our position as a grant
maker. Notice that the six action areas are no longer simply sector based.
Particularly prosperous people, connected people, and promising young people are by
far the most different from our previous sector based approach. Our six action
areas are based on 12 of the 64 CIW indicators. You can now see the 12 that
we have specifically identified on the screen. Changes, as measured and reported by the CIW and the indicators we have identified as relevant to our work, will
clearly signal whether our investments are having the impact that we are
striving for. This one page will give you an overview
of how our strategy for our grant investments work. The six circles
represent our six action areas the boxes immediately below the action areas are
the priority outcomes and you’ll see that there are two per action area. The
boxes at the bottom are the grant results and there are between one and
three per action area. A successful OTF application will have demonstrated a
strong fit with one of the priority outcomes as well as fit with one of the
grant results for that priority outcome. It is often the case that a projects
outcomes could align with more than just one priority outcome or grant result but
it’s important that you determine which major project outcome aligns strongly
with one priority outcome and which of the grant results is the best fit with
your project; even if more than one may apply. Thinking
about the change that you’re trying to achieve and the most important impact
you’re looking to have may help you distinguish between two grant results. Achieving this strategy depends on two
fundamental components: the investment streams are the how and the action areas
are the what. These two components are interdependent and together will help us
to achieve impact. If you think of the OTF strategy as a building, each of the
four investment streams are like entranceways into the building, whereas
each of the action areas are like separate rooms in the building. At some
point you must decide which door to use to get in the building and then which
room to enter. Now let’s take a look at the different
action areas. The active people action area is all about increasing levels of
physical activity through high-quality organized programs or less structured
activities that respond to the unique needs of participants, are led by skilled
leaders and coaches, and delivered in accessible well equipped facilities.
OTF is looking to achieve two priority outcomes and five grant results. The
specific metrics can be found at otf.ca. They can be categorised most easily by
two simple words: more and better. In terms of trained and certified coaches,
officials and volunteers, the first grant results you see on the left, more and
better trained coaches and officials. When more volunteers are trained to
support participants it increases the likelihood that people will become
active and stay involved. For programs are safe, inclusive, fair, and age, and
ability appropriate: more people are likely to become active if the activity
is safe, inclusive, fair and designed with their needs in mind. Increased frequency
and duration of physical activity is also key. People may be active but not
active enough to see any health benefits. This is why better quality programs and
more and better quality infrastructure is key. The connected people action area is all
about moving people along the path from arriving in a community group,
neighborhood, etc., to the point where they feel their voice experience and
perspective is valued and they can see it shaping their community. Programs and
services can only be relevant, responsive, and creative when everyone is engaged in
shaping them. Let’s look at each of the grant results. People have a say in
shaping the services and programs that matter to them: creating room for people
to influence the nature and design of community services and programs gives
them a sense of ownership that is critical to success. People who are
marginalized take on leadership roles in their communities: our communities are
better when they work well for everyone especially those who are marginalized.
When barriers are eliminated space is made for new leaders to emerge; leaders
who are in touch with their communities and better able to work with and on
behalf of community members. diverse groups work together to improve
community life: diverse groups can range from multiple groups working together,
group serving specific populations, and groups led by specific populations. When
groups that represent the diversity of our communities can find common ground
they build on each other’s strengths and close the distance between them. People who are isolated have connections
in their community: social isolation is a significant determinant of health and
mortality. Projects that develop effective mechanisms to increase social
connections in order to reduce social isolation can have a significant impact
on community and individual health. Be sure to compare the outcome you hope to
achieve to all aspects of the grant result. For example, the project needs to
go beyond identifying the people who are isolated. The approach being tried in an
application must explore how to help those individuals develop their
connections the community. Conversely, sometimes
people assume that individuals are isolated because of a particular
circumstance. For example, a senior living in a rural area. Not all seniors who live
in rural areas are necessarily isolated and lacking connections, generally there
are other factors that play. Are you considering all of them?
Understanding what underlies each grant result is very important, for example,
different groups does not mean the same as diverse groups. What makes the group’s
diverse in this context is specific identities like age and gender and not
things like job function or industry. It is important for the grant result to ask
“who is doing the work?”, “how are they doing the work?” and “what will the community
involvement be?” The “who” must clearly demonstrate that they are a group
defined along identity lines. Now let’s take a look at the green
people action area. This action area is all about engaging individuals and
sectors in efforts to conserve and restore ecosystems and also to reduce
the impacts we have on our environment. We have articulated two priority
outcomes and five grant results. Under each of these outcomes we want to
achieve the following results. Under the first one, more ecosystems are protected
and restored, which is our conservation priority outcome, the first grant result
is more people participate in ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts.
This is about community engagement the more people that are engaged as stewards
of special natural places in their communities the greater the sense of
ownership they have and the more successful the conservation work is.
Conservation and restoration efforts are better planned and more sustainable:
getting people involved is important but it’s just part of the solution. How we do
conservation matters. We need to ensure that proven, effective planning guides
our implementation so that we use our limited resources wisely. Implicit in
this grant result is that we will also achieve more conservation on the ground
building on this sound planning. Under the second priority outcome, people
reduce their impact on the environment, which is about impact reduction, people
connect with the environment and understand their impact on it. This is
about environmental education and true connection. We are increasingly an urban
society with limited opportunities to engage with our natural environment. If
we can provide meaningful, hands-on experiences that extend beyond simply
providing information and raising awareness and results in a true connection, we believe that we can motivate people to
make positive changes that reduce their impact on the environment.
People and resource users take deliberate action to benefit the
environment: this is about moving beyond education to action. Action must be
encouraged at different scales; by individuals in their daily lives and at
scale across sectors that use our resources the most if we are truly going
to make a difference on ecological footprint. Mechanisms are developed to
promote responsible resource stewardship: in order to achieve the impact we seek,
we need to develop innovative approaches and provide a range of tools. These might
be standards and practices, voluntary certification, recognition and award
systems, and other such innovative mechanisms to incent change. The inspired people action area is about
moving people from being passive audience members to being active
participants in the creative process. It is also based on the premise that
participation in quality culture heritage and arts experiences leads to
more connectedness within communities through an engaged public we have
articulated two priority outcomes and five grant results under each of these
outcomes we want to achieve the following results under priority outcome
number one better quality programming and infrastructure to experience culture
heritage and the arts we have arts culture and heritage
activities have the appropriate spaces facilities play a large role in hosting
the exchange between artistic producers and audience spaces that are welcoming
accessible technically sound and aesthetically pleasing improve the
quality of the production or program while also engaging participants
physically intellectually and emotionally when we ensure that arts
culture and heritage have appropriate spaces we create the conditions for the
work to be well received and eliminate the barriers to full and active
participation skills and knowledge are transfer to the next generation of
artistic leaders artists are essential to our communities
good arts programming depends on expert guides be they artists arts facilitators
or arts administrators when knowledge is transferred to the next generation of
artistic leaders we ensure that they have the skills needed to develop
relevant and responsive programming that meets audience and participant needs and
interests well into the future under priority outcome number two more
people connect with culture heritage and the arts we have access to arts based
learning opportunities and compelling artistic cultural and heritage
experiences arts based learning leads to improve student engagement and has a
positive impact on performance and self-esteem it happens in classrooms and
in the community at large and includes everything from residences and workshops
to weekly instruction when we increase access to arts based learning and
compelling artistic cultural and heritage experiences we engage new
audiences and create the circumstances for a lifelong connection to the arts
more people are engaged in community based arts creation arts organizations
that work with communities to co-create produce and present new artistic work
generate a dynamic exchange of creative ideas validate the lived experience of
community members engender a sense of belonging and share a collective vision
with the wider community when the community sees itself in a performance
or exhibition artistic expression becomes an integral part of its identity
and a catalyst for community building cultural heritage is preserved and
animated preserving and interpreting record stories languages customs
traditions etc revitalizes our history reshapes our knowledge of the past and
illuminates lived experiences this enhances people’s understanding of
themselves and their community as living traditions link the past to the present
for indigenous communities the act of preservation and appreciation is deeply
tied to the land language ritual customs and works of art and allows them to
connect with each other and undertake a community-driven process of cultural
revitalized digging deeper to understand a specific
grant results will be key to determining whether or not your project has the
potential to achieve a particular grant result this is why we encourage you to
read the background document for each of our action areas the background
documents are all on OTF CA and are four or five page documents that provide you
with the overall context for what OTF is trying to achieve in that action area as
well as providing more fulsome explanations of each grant result with
two or three examples for example the grant result skills and knowledge are
transferred to the next generation of artistic leaders the aim of this grant
result is to support projects that support artists and other facilitators
in acquiring ongoing education training and mentorship to ensure that they
remain relevant and responsive to evolving audience needs and interests
they need both the technical tools of creation as well as business and
organizational development skills projects that aim to get more children
and youth involved in the arts assuming that eventually some of those
children or youth may become artistic leaders may be a better fit with access
to arts based learning opportunities and compelling artistic cultural and
heritage experiences or even perhaps people are engaged in community based
arts creation depending on the focus of the project and the intended impact on
the children and youth the promising young people action area is about
ensuring the positive development of children in youth through the right set
of skills experiences and relationships so that they develop into successful and
contributing adults we have articulated two priority outcomes and for grant
results in this action area we will know if we are contributing to promising
young people if we achieve the two following priority outcomes
the first being more children and youth have emotional and social strengths and
the second one being youth are meaningfully engaged in the community
under that first grant result we’ll know if we’re achieving these outcomes if
adults are supporting children and youth with barriers and are better equipped to
help support the social and emotional development of children in youth through
parenting increased competency etc and children and youth with barriers develop
strong emotional and social skills in terms of the second priority outcome
will know that we are achieving our outcomes if youth are more meaningfully
engaged in the community and volunteer in leadership roles getting more
involved in improving their communities and if youth overall are more involved
in identifying the issues in their communities and developing solutions for
those challenges an important side note our definition of youth facing barriers
is youth who are indigenous lgbtq+ newcomer youth racialized youth youth
who are at risk of dropping out in conflict with the law in care or leaving
care youth who are living in low-income situations or youth who are living with
disabilities or special needs we define children and youth as any child or youth
between the ages of 0 to 18 years as well as early adults between the ages of
19 and 25 or early adults with disabilities aged 19 to 29 years
understanding the entire aim of a grant results is key for example youth facing
barriers volunteer and are in leadership roles isn’t just about supporting youth
facing barriers to volunteer it’s about those youth being in
volunteer leadership roles the prosperous people action area
supports people along a continuum by moving people from crisis being able to
meet basic needs to economic opportunity prosperity we have articulated two
priority outcomes and five grant results over time achievement of these grant
results will help ensure that people who are vulnerable have increased economic
stability and economic opportunity because they under the first priority
outcome have access to the appropriate supports and services that support them
in meeting their basic needs and under the second priority outcome have the
opportunity to increase their financial independence through increased financial
literacy supports have access to securing and maintaining employment and
have the supports skills and knowledge to successfully become entrepreneurs
let’s look at one of the grant results that is frequently misunderstood people
have the skills and knowledge to achieve greater financial independence the aim
here is to improve people’s financial independence and very specific ways by
supporting people living on a low income to gain financial skills and behaviors
related to financial literacy financial literacy skills include budgeting credit
and savings and consumer awareness examples of services that could fit with
this grant result are helping people find ways to repay debt build a
financial track record balance financial priorities or accessing income boosting
benefits and tax credits this particular grant result is not about providing
fundamental job skills training or job search programs as a way of increasing
financial independence those types of projects may be more aligned with people
become and stay employed another common misstep that we see is that applicants
choose a grant result because it aligns with their organization’s mission or
typical activities route with the outcomes of the project itself
sometimes an applicant will choose the grant result people who are economically
vulnerable are able to meet their basic needs because it fits with their
organization’s mission however if a food bank for example would like to test a
financial literacy program for people who use the food bank the project may
align better with people have the skills and knowledge to achieve greater
financial independence it’s important to note that not all food related programs
for people living on low income are necessarily related to helping people
meet their basic needs which is about supporting a person who is in a crisis
situation versus having a longer term more holistic outcome an example of a
longer-term outcome would be a program designed to teach people living on a low
income about how to grow their own food people who are vulnerable refers to the
situation and circumstances that make them vulnerable and may include women
youth immigrants indigenous people sole parents families and people with
disabilities prosperous people action area programs improve their situations
and circumstances and help move people along the continuum towards
self-sufficiency now let’s look at what type of grants we
make our investment streams are the way applicants will be channeled into the
foundation through the streams OTF will only make investments that will
achieve one of our grant results OTF has three granting streams seed grants are
about projects that are at the idea stage more testing research study or
convening is needed to determine whether the project will be effective in having
an impact grow grants are about projects that have already been shown to have a
significant impact an impact that is worthy of replicating in a different
community scaling up or adapting to have a deeper impact capital grants are about
broadening access to and improving community spaces by completing
renovations building a new structure and or purchasing capital equipment all seed
projects need to drive at achieving greater impact in their community by
researching a new concept idea or approach developing launching or testing
a new idea approach or event piloting a new program or running a demonstration
project conducting a feasibility study or convening people around an emerging
issue there are minimum and maximum limits on the amount of funding that you
can request for a seed project the minimum is five thousand and the maximum
is 75 thousand the maximum grant term that can be requested is twelve months
from the start date that you put in your application think carefully about your
project plan and the most appropriate timing to start your project it’s
equally important to consider the amount of time required to complete the project
your end date ensure that you have accounted for each major step of your
plan and that the time that it may take to implement under normal
conditions rather than your best-case scenarios keep in mind that if your
application is approved OTF will schedule your payment so that
90% is paid out upfront and 10% will be held back until your final report has
been submitted reviewed and approved this means that you will have to plan
your project cash flow so that you have sufficient cash to pay out the final 10%
of the project costs yourself in order that you can report on those expenses in
your final report your organization will have to carry those 10% costs while your
report is under review by delving deeper into the purpose of seed grants it
becomes clear that the common theme is learning because the seed stream is
designed to invest in new ideas in different approaches we are specifically
looking at funding projects which are focused on coming up with new or better
ways of doing things more efficiently or effectively leading to greater impact
developing an evidence base through testing or piloting of new or unproven
ideas allowing an organization to learn as a result of testing ideas or concepts
that have not been tried before responding to emerging issues in a
community experimenting with innovative approaches without knowing what the
results might be exploring the feasibility of ideas or things that are
new or unproven through research confirming refining or refuting
hypotheses have a well-thought-out idea what you want to do before writing the
proposal the application is just the mechanism to get your idea funded it
should not be about finding a funder and then developing a project to fit the
purpose of a seed grant is to learn from a new idea or approach seed projects
involve something new and untested certainly to your organization and
community if not elsewhere and this can include once
again researching a new concept idea or approach developing launching or testing
a new idea approach or event convening around an emerging issue or conducting a
feasibility study now moving on to grow grants you must demonstrate that your
project fits the purpose of the growth stream and is aligned with one priority
outcome and one grant result the minimum that you can apply for for grow is fifty
thousand per year and the maximum you can request is two hundred and fifty
thousand per year the minimum number of years that you can apply for is two
years and the maximum is three years plan your cash flow carefully if a grow
grant is approved again ten percent of the final year’s funding will be held
back until your final report has been submitted reviewed and approved you will
have to spend that ten percent before you submit your final report in order to
be able to report on those expenses let’s look at the different types of
growth launched replicate or adapt a new evidence-based program this type of
project assumes that you want to launch a new program new to your organization
not a program that you have delivered or are currently delivering the program
could be something that has been delivered in another community another
province or even another country what matters here is that there is evidence
that the program you wish to run will deliver the impact related to your grant
result you are able to demonstrate that you can successfully achieve your stated
impact with this program within your community context and with the intended
audience in launching the new program you may be replicating the program in
other words duplicating or repeating it as it was originally designed and
delivered or you may be adapting the program thus ensuring that the program
is a stronger fit for your community community context and with your intended
audience or you may be trying to scale up a program currently being delivered
thus impacting more people this type of project assumes that you have already
been delivering the program in some way shape or form and that you have some
strong evidence in hand that the program works to achieve the intended impact the
focus is on increasing the reach of the program in some way this could mean
expanding into new neighborhoods or geographic areas or it could be
significantly increasing the number of people who will benefit from the program
or both and finally improve the quality of the program currently being delivered
in order to increase the impact this type of project also assumes that you
have already been delivering the program in some way shape or form and that you
have strong evidence that the program works to achieve the intended impact it
also assumes that you have evaluated this program over time and that
information and data demonstrates that if you were able to significantly adopt
the program you will be able to have a much deeper impact or effect much deeper
change for the people who are benefiting from and/or participating in the program
and now let’s take a look at what grow grants are not although you can ask for
funds to support overhead and administrative costs that are required
to successfully implement a project OTF cannot provide core funding or
operating grants for current operations similarly projects where the primary
outcome or focus is to increase the capacity of the organization overall are
not a fit for o TFS investment strategy applying to maintain an existing program
is also not eligible competitive grow grant applications must demonstrate how
the project will significantly increase the impact on people in the community
you must be able to prove that how you will deliver the project will lead to
the change you are aiming to achieve this means that if you want to scale up
a program that you have already been delivering you have to be able to back
it up with evaluation data that demonstrates that the program works to
achieve your stated impact in relation to the grant result it’s also important
to keep in mind that in adapting a program either your own or another’s you
must be able to demonstrate that a grow grant will help you create additional
impact whether that’s an increased number of people benefiting from the
program or people benefiting in a much deeper way that will extend or
significantly enhance the change that you want to initiate grow grant
applications can include funds to purchase capital equipment to renovate a
building or physical space or to construct something new however you must
demonstrate in the grant application that the capital element is absolutely
required in order to successfully complete the program
elements of the project for example renovating a building to be physically
accessible may be an absolute requirement in order to successfully
scale up a program that has a direct impact on people with physical
disabilities while replacing the roof may not be directly connected to the
specific project and grant result in the latter example a project to replace the
roof might be a better fit with the capital stream and now let’s move on to
the capital stream the minimum grant amount you can request for capital is
five thousand and the maximum is a hundred and fifty thousand and these
grants can be for up to 12 months once again our 10% hold back applies and so
remember that you will have to plan your cash flow to expense that 10% submit
your final report and know that you will be reimbursed once the report is
submitted reviewed and approved in terms of the types of costs funded there is
construction and renovation which would include repairs renovations or
construction costs as well as permanent equipment costs in terms of equipment
that would be capital purchases that are not part of a building and are directly
related to the project and can include the purchase of computer hardware such
as a server land or property purchase this would be the direct purchase costs
of land or property and finally development costs costs associated with
construction such as the development of plans legal fees or survey costs these
may not be greater than 20% of the total budgeted expenses and cannot be incurred
prior to the approval of the grant and let’s take a look at the types of costs
that are non-eligible contributions two annual funding drives and general
capital campaigns activities completed or costs incurred prior to the approval
of the request by OTF for example the cost to get quotes line drawings that
are incurred prior to the approval of the grant or in order to get the
necessary documentation to apply also staff salaries benefits and wages are
not eligible taxes such as GST HST for which the recipient is eligible for a
rebate are not eligible contingency costs and finally overhead and
administration costs are not eligible in the capital stream wanted to end off by
sharing all of the different ways to get support our website has a wealth of
information all of the information you need to know about OTF and how to apply
for a grant we have a wonderful support center and you can call or email your
questions about applying for a grant they are open Monday to Friday from 8:30
a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and they also have extended hours leading up to deadlines
we also offer in-person workshops to help people get ready to apply as well
as webinars online information sessions to advise potential applicants and
provide the information needed to submit a proposal you can also book one-to-one
coaching sessions one-to-one support with a program manager to get your
specific questions answered and finally on social media connect with OTF via
Facebook Twitter Instagram and YouTube to learn more about what OTF is all
about and how to apply for a grant all right well that’s it for now thanks
for joining us and remember if you have any questions or you need help with
anything please don’t hesitate to call our customer support center at

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