Community Investment Program Application Guidelines

CIRA’s Community Investment Program aims to build a better online Canada by funding innovative community projects that contribute to a stronger, safer and more accessible internet for all Canadians.

Eligibility and funding areas

We are seeking applications for funding in these five areas:

  • Infrastructure: Developing connectivity services for regional, rural, remote and/or underserved communities
  • Access: Providing individuals and communities with the ability to connect to the internet
  • Digital Literacy: Enhancing Canadians’ knowledge and skills to use the internet effectively and safely
  • Engagement: Research and knowledge-sharing activities that broaden public understanding and participation in Internet policy development, governance and cybersecurity.
  • Services: Building online apps and platforms that address social, economic and/or environmental needs.

Grants are available up to $100,000. In addition, one grant will be available up to $250,000.

Here are specific examples of the types of projects the Community Investment Program has funded in these areas.

 

Please note:

  • We do not fund programs or initiatives outside of our funding areas.
  • Projects should be one year in duration, however the project results should be sustainable beyond the initial year. The exception to this is the one grant that the fund is awarding this year at the level between $100,000 - $250,000. Two years is the acceptable duration for this grant.
  • Grants are meant to be a one-time investment and not intended as operating funding for an organization.

If you are applying for project funding that is part of a larger project, be specific about the portion for which you are requesting funding from CIRA.

Who can apply?

CIRA’s Community Investment Program is open to:

  • Organizations recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency as registered charities
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Academics and researchers affiliated with a Canadian university or college

Organizations must be based in Canada and projects, while they can have a broader impact, must be of benefit to Canadians.

Applicants must demonstrate fiscal responsibility and a solid track record of past success.

We will accept only one application at a time from an organization, either alone or as part of a partnership. There are no limits for academic institutions; however, the lead researcher(s) may submit only one application at a time.

If you have already received a grant from CIRA’s Community Investment Program, you or your organization can re-apply for the next round of funding.  However, your project will only be considered if the final report from your last funded project has been received. Your new application can be for a new project or an extension of the original project, but it cannot be used to complete the original project if you did not achieve your objectives with the first grant.

If you are unsure if you are eligible, please contact cip@cira.ca.

Funding restrictions

What we will not fund:

  • Projects solely focusing on website development and design
  • Training proposals that provide generic IT training
  • Applications seeking IT equipment for general purpose training programs
  • Requests for sponsorship
  • General fundraising appeals
  • Ongoing core operations (e.g., permanent staff salaries, administrative functions such as firewalls and intranets, etc.)
  • Retrospective costs
  • Marketing or research associated with marketing activities.
  • Projects whose main focus is outside of Canada.

We do support projects and organizations that do not have a .CA through the Community Investment Program. However, as an organization whose initiative benefits Canadians, .CA will help brand you as Canadian online. Learn more about the benefits of having a .CA.

Application process

Application deadline

The complete Community Investment Program online application form [link to online application] with all required attachments must be received by Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 2 pm ET. The system automatically closes after the deadline and applications received after the deadline date will not be accepted.

Please submit your application as early as possible to ensure sufficient time for your documentation to be reviewed before the system closes. Your application must be complete and all of your supporting documentation must be submitted by the deadline for your application to be accepted and move forward for review by the Committee. All applications will be acknowledged by e-mail upon receipt.  

The decision-making process

1.  CIRA staff will review all applications to ensure completeness and eligibility.

2. Only complete applications from eligible organizations will be forwarded to the Community Investment Committee for their consideration.

3. The Committee will meet to review the applications and make selections for funding based on the established selection criteria and available funding.

4. The Committee will present their recommendations to the CIRA Board of Directors who will make final decisions.

5. Approval letters and contracts will be sent to successful recipients in May. Once contracts are signed, funds will be released.

6. CIRA staff will communicate with applicants that were not successful and make them aware of the decision in May.

General selection criteria

The Community Investment Committee will assess the applications against the following general criteria:

  • Alignment with CIRA’s Community Investment Program funding areas
  • The project addresses a demonstrated need, filling a digital gap for Canadians
  • The project can play a unique role in building a better online Canada
  • The project is financially viable and the budget is reasonable
  • The applicant has made an appropriate financial contribution to the project (with the amount of the contribution being proportional to the financial strength of the applicant’s organization)
  • The project is appropriately and realistically planned with clearly-defined activities and outputs
  • Project outcomes and impact are clearly articulated – for additional guidance, please see our Project Planning Tool and Measuring Results Tip Sheet
  • The applicant has a demonstrated capacity and leadership to implement the project

Additional considerations as you complete your application

  • Applicants are encouraged make to make their digital tools and applications openly available so others can learn and benefit from the project. For example, applicants can host their documentation publicly (via GitHub or equivalent) and openly license their solutions (via GNU, Apache Commons or similar).
  • Applicants are encouraged to partner with other organizations as appropriate to work together on common issues, share expertise and learnings from the project.
  • Applicants should consider whether their results can be scaled for further impact.

Based on our experience, some of the main reasons why applicants are not successful include:

  • Unclear project outcomes.  The activities may be described in the application but the outcomes of the project are less clear. Outcomes are the differences or measurable changes in a community as a result of the project. For example, how many individuals are expected to be reached and how will this project specifically benefit them? For additional guidance, please see our Project Planning Tool and Measuring Results Tip Sheet.
  • Concerns about the project budget.  For example, if certain project costs lack detail or are perceived as too high or unnecessary, the project may be ranked lower.  Also, the financial request must be proportionate to the size and capacity of your organization and all in-kind contributions from your organization and others should be reflected.
  • Lack of innovation. The project may not reflect adequate innovation or an original approach to meeting a community need.

The number of funding recipients is dependent on the number of applications received and the funding request in each application. As an example, in our last round of funding we received over 180 applications and selected 28 recipients totaling $1.25 million in grants. The Community Investment Committee makes its selections based on the individual merit of each project.

Please note that:

  • Applicants should not incur any costs prior to the grant being approved. Any encouragement by CIRA for you to submit an application is not a guarantee of support.
  • To be fair to all applicants, CIRA does not provide one-on-one application-specific advice. Applicants are welcome to attend the applicant webinar in February to learn more about the application process, or view the recording online afterward.

If you are awarded a grant

After the grant has been awarded the Canadian Internet Registration Authority requires the following:

  • Written approval from CIRA prior to any alterations in the project plan or timeline;
  • Interim reporting, if stipulated in the grant agreement;
  • A final report that presents actual project results against the original project plan submitted in your application
  • Appropriate acknowledgement of CIRA’s Community Investment Program support in communication materials and events as outlined in the grant agreement.

Final report (required within three months after the project is complete)

The final report asks the recipient to outline their project activities, outcomes (both qualitative and quantitative) and learnings. Grant recipients will also be asked to report on their actual revenues and expenses as compared to their budget and explain any variances.

At the end of the grant period, if there are unspent funds, CIRA will request the surplus funds within 30 days.

How to complete the application

Materials to gather before you apply

As part of the application process, you must provide the following materials. Please read through this list to ensure you have time to prepare everything before the submission deadline. All of these documents must be completed and submitted with your application form by February 28 2019 at 2PM ET.

Proof of eligibility. Examples of proof can include:

  • Documentation confirming your not-for-profit incorporation (e.g., articles of incorporation) and your charitable status, if applicable. Please note that tax forms are not valid. For academic researchers: a letter confirming you are employed by the academic institutions.

Non-profit organizations and charities must provide:

  • a list of their Board of Directors with contact information, including titles and organizations, emails and phone numbers;
  • a copy of their most recent audited financial statements, and
  • a current year 12-month operating budget.

The Community Investment Committee will receive and review only the application form and attachments we have requested.

If your organization does not have audited financial statements, you are permitted to submit your most recent financial statements if they are prepared or reviewed by an accountant and signed by two members of your board of directors.

An operating budget shows forecasted revenues against organizational expenses over the course of a year. The operating budget you submit should cover the next 12 months, or 24 months if your request exceeds $100K.

Universities and colleges are not required to provide their organizational budgets, but they must provide a resume for the lead researcher.

The Community Investment Committee will receive and review only the application form and attachments we have requested.

Application form questions    

All questions are available for reference in the sample application form, which includes project budget sheet details.   

Tips for completing your online application

Before you begin:

We recommend using the most up to date version of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Previous versions of Internet Explorer may result in errors or compatibility issues.

Ensure the internet "cookies" are enabled on your browser.

Important: system emails

Emails will be automatically generated as part of the application process from noreply@fluidreview.com. Please do the following to make sure you receive all of these important emails:

  • Review your daily digest quarantine reports for emails from the system that have been quarantined.
  • If you have a system administrator, ask them to add the IP address to your anti-spam software (72.55.140.81).

Data entry tips: Save as you go!

There is no time limit when entering data in the online application. You will lose your information, however, if you use the browser navigation buttons or close your browser window without using the “Save” feature.

A save option is provided so you can save your information as you complete the form or if you do not wish to complete the entire application in one sitting. If you click “save & continue” it will stay on the same page, hit “next” will also save the information and have you move on to the next page, and “save & exit” will mark the task as complete. If you decide to close your browser after saving, you will return to the online application site and select a task to complete it, coming back to the last edited page.

IMPORTANT When the application is complete, including all the relevant documentation, click the Submit button and a confirmation page will immediately appear. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address listed for the contact person in the application. Make sure to check your junk email folder or spam filter if the confirmation email is not received within a few minutes of submitting your application. Please note that the application can only be submitted by the submission owner. Also note: It is possible to download a .zip file of your full submission from the application submission page. 

Questions

Contact us with your questions

These Application Guidelines should answer most of your questions. Please read them carefully. If you have any other questions about the process, please or email cip@cira.ca or call 1-877-860-1411 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.

If you have additional technical questions, issues with uploading, or experience difficulty in submitting your online application, please contact https://cipapplication.cira.ca/helpdesk/contact/.  You will usually receive a response within 24 hours.

Examples of projects funded

Here are examples of past projects funded in each Community Investment Program funding area:

Infrastructure: Developing connectivity services for regional, rural, remote and/or underserved communities

Examples of past funded projects in this area:

  • Improved wireless service to 12 remote communities on Northern Vancouver Island (Ragged Edge Community Network Society)
  • Replacement of satellite connectivity with wireless in Saddle Hills, Alberta (Peace Region Internet Society)
  • Mobile Mesh Technology for Improved Internet Connectivity in Remote Indigenous Communities of Canada’s Arctic (University of Guelph - School of Computer Science)

Access: Providing people and communities with the ability to connect to the internet

Examples of past funded projects in this area:

  • Refurbishment of computers for low-income families in BC (British Columbia Technology for Learning Society)
  • Installation of wireless connection to low-income public-housing residents in Halifax (Chebucto Community Net Society)
  • Low-cost hardware combined with internet use training for low-income citizens in Toronto (FreeGeek)

Digital Literacy: Enhancing Canadians’ knowledge and skills to use the internet effectively and safely

Examples of past funded projects in this area:

  • National research into children’s and teens’ internet use (MediaSmarts)
  • Digital training for Coast Salish youth to create a virtual reality experience of their traditional villages “Before Vancouver” (Naut'sa mawt Tribal Council)
  • Electronic devices privacy handbook – Guide to Rights at the Border (BC Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic)
  • Bilingual teacher training modules for coding in the classroom (KidsCodeJeunesse)
  • Training for seniors on using mobile devices (Nova Scotia Community Access Program)
  • Tools, equipment and training for at-risk youth to develop digital game content (Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre)

Engagement: Research and knowledge-sharing activities that broaden public understanding and participation in Internet policy development and governance

Examples of past funded projects in this area:

  • Digital Access Day: NGOs, governments, educational institutions, and tech sector convened for a national conversation about Canada’s digital divide and solutions (National Capital FreeNet)
  • Advocacy around digital access for low-income communities (Acorn Institute Canada)
  • Digital policy to support community broadband with remote first nations (First Mile Connectivity Consortium)
  • Online platform to educate Canadians about the impact and value of municipal broadband in urban, rural, and remote communities (OpenMedia)

Services: Building online apps and platforms that address social, economic and/or environmental needs.

Examples of past funded projects in this area:

  • SMS Alerts app for people experiencing poverty, homeless at-risk youth and adults online (Vancouver Community Network)
  • Online career-counselling and e-mentoring social network for young people aged 14 – 30 (Academos Cybermentorat)
  • Online services platform to assist communities to prevent homelessness (Ready to Rent, BC Association)
  • Support for Fort Nelson First Nation to join a growing network of communities using Mackenzie DataStream – an open access tool for sharing water information in Canada’s Mackenzie Basin. (The Walter and Duncan Gordon Charitable Foundation)