Systems such as education, justice, child welfare, language and culture, health and employment play a critical role in the social and economic wellbeing of youth. When there are gaps in these systems, community-led organizations, charities and institutions take part in reducing barriers for youth by working collaboratively with those impacted to create meaningful change.
Systems change work examines how policies, practices and procedures within these systems can be improved to better reflect the needs of a diverse population. Strengthening a system aims to improve how youth navigate services and creates more unique and equitable access to supports, resources, programs, and more. It’s an opportunity to reimagine systems, services and resources so they can better meet the needs of youth, and more specifically, how Indigenous and Black youth experience those systems.
Systems change takes time, trust, and a deep understanding of how systems function when serving youth. It takes the insights of many who directly support youth, and those engaged in policy, design and grassroots work to look at the diverse ways to ease the experiences youth have as they navigate and engage with systems. Real change goes beyond any single organization and/or isolated program.
With a System Innovations grant, collaboratives can help create meaningful, innovative change by delivering projects that benefit youth, while prioritizing Indigenous (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) and Black youth.
Types of Projects
They support two types of system change projects:
- Groundwork: Laying the groundwork needed to strengthen a system of services or opportunities for young people benefitting from the work
- Implementation: Implementing strategies to strengthen a system of services or opportunities for young people benefitting from the work
- Requirements for lead organizations
- Collaboratives applying for a System Innovations grant will need to have one lead organization.
Any one of the following organizations may be eligible for funding as the lead:
- A charitable organization or foundation registered with the Canada Revenue Agency
- An organization incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation without share capital in a Canadian jurisdiction
Any one of the following Indigenous communities may be eligible for funding as the lead:
- A First Nation
- A Chartered Community Council, operating under the Métis Nation of Ontario
The lead organization:
- Accepts responsibility for the grant. This includes submitting the grant application, managing the payments and reporting requirements if the project is approved for funding.
- Needs to be based in Ontario.
- Plays a key role in bringing stakeholders to the table for the delivery of the project.
- Needs to have strong community connections, the respect of community stakeholders, and an established reputation.
- Needs to have a strong track record for serving and engaging youth. This includes knowledge and experience in delivering work that benefits young people.
- They invite Indigenous and Black organizations to assume the role of lead organization in collaboratives that are working to improve systems for Indigenous and Black youth in Ontario.
- Requirements for collaboratives
- A collaborative is a group of two or more organizations – each with specific roles and responsibilities.
- They recognize that collaboratives will enter this process in different stages of readiness. If there are other organizations not currently in your collaborative that you consider essential to the work, you will have the opportunity to describe how your collaborative will secure their engagement as part of the application.
- Readiness: Are you prepared for this work?
Organizations in the collaborative need to demonstrate that they are ready for their system change project. They will have:
- Capacity to lead culturally responsive systems change work that is youth-centered.
- A common goal where there is mutual benefit, shared decision-making and accountability to each collaborative member. This includes clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities for the project.
- A strong track record of serving the youth who are the intended primary beneficiaries of the project.
- An ability to influence shifts in behaviour that ultimately benefits youth well-being.
- A newly formed collaborative or have been working together for some time.
- Reflect communities served
The lead and collaborative organizations need to reflect the communities and populations served. This includes in the mandate, leadership, and staff teams of all collaborative organizations.
- Organizations in the collaborative also need to come from diverse sectors and backgrounds relevant to the system they want to strengthen. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Indigenous and Black organizations
- organizations led by and serving specific communities
- grassroots groups
- youth-led groups
- system partners and/or institutions
- community networks and/or leaders
For more information, visit Ontario Trillium Foundation.