About Organizational Mentors

An Organizational Mentor (OM) provides administrative support, project mentoring, and financial accountability to YOF grassroots groups. An OM's role is similar to that of trustees, an emerging governance platform, a platform, or a charitable home.

All groups applying to the Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) Youth Innovations and Family Innovations Streams must partner with an OM and enter into a collaborative agreement.

This page contains tips and tools to help you find the right OM for your group. If you want to become an OM, it also details the criteria and application process.

Important notes before you start:

  • Grassroots groups that submit an Expression of Interest should start looking for an OM early, and begin building a relationship as soon as possible. Building a positive and productive relationship takes time.
  • If the OM’s relationship with a grassroots group ends during the life of the grant, the project cannot be transferred to a new OM. In these situations, depending on the circumstances, the grant may be rescinded.
Important Dates and Deadlines
Organization Registration Deadline   February 16, 2022
OM-Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement February 16, 2022

OMs offer groups a sound “legal home” 

  • The need for a “legal home” is non-negotiable and the legal boundaries of the relationship are set by the Canada Revenue Agency
  • OMs extend their own infrastructure, policies, and procedures to support grassroots groups with administrative support and project oversight
  • The OM assumes full legal and financial responsibility for all project deliverables and project funds

Exchange of knowledge, experience, opportunities, and networks between groups and OMs

  • OMs and grassroots groups work together in a spirit of reciprocity and deep respect
  • They each believe that this relationship will enhance the quality of their work, their impact, and relationships with those they serve

Eligibility Criteria

An Organizational Mentor (OM) provides administrative support, project mentoring, and financial accountability to Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) grassroots groups. An OM's role is similar to that of trustees, an emerging governance platform, a platform, or a charitable home.

Prospective OMs need to meet Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) eligibility criteria, enabling it to receive funds directly from OTF. Review OTF’s eligibility policy for full details.

Additionally, all organizations need to meet the following criteria:

  • Incorporated non-profit organization
  • Charitable organization
  • First Nation, Métis, Inuit, or other Indigenous organization
  • A minimum of $150,000 in revenues for the past 2 years
  • Support of senior leadership and directors, healthy organization infrastructure and capacity mentor (see below for more information)


Being an OM can be both rewarding and beneficial, but it does require organizational infrastructure and a commitment to supporting grassroots work and leaders. To be an OM, your organization will need:

Support of senior leadership and directors

  • As an OM, your organization assumes all legal and fiduciary responsibility for a grassroots project just as you would with your organization’s other projects and activities.
  • Participating as an OM requires authorization from an individual at a senior leadership level and/or the Board of Directors.

Healthy infrastructure

  • Your organization should have the infrastructure to support grassroots projects. This means that:
    • Your organization has staff that can dedicate time to provide the projects with administrative and program support
    • Staff roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and can be shared with grassroots group leaders
    • Relevant financial and human resources policies and procedures, including insurance and liabilities coverage, are in place and can be shared with project leaders

Capacity to mentor

  • In addition to providing administrative support to the grassroots group and their project, OMs provide project leaders with mentoring support throughout the grant.
  • It is critical that your organization has the capacity and interest to mentor project leaders.

All OMs must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Incorporated non-profit organization
  • Charitable organization
  • First Nation, Métis, Inuit, or other Indigenous organization
  • A minimum of $150,000 in revenues for the past 2 years
  • A commitment to working with a grassroots group
  • Support of senior leadership and directors, healthy organization infrastructure and capacity mentor (see below for more information)

OMS must also meet Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) eligibility criteria, enabling it to receive funds directly from OTF. Review OTF’s eligibility policy for full details.

Application steps:

1. Learn more about becoming an OM

2. Key dates and OM Application submission

  • Review the Grant Application deadlines
  • Review the OM Application questions at OM Resources
  • When the online application portal opens apply online

3. Apply to be an OM

  • Is your organization new to OTF? Register online
  • Is your organization already registered with OTF? Log in to apply online.EN Look for Applications (YOF) in the top right corner. Click to access OM Application.
  • The YOF team will verify your organization’s eligibility

4. Work with groups to complete the OM - Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement

  • This collaborative agreement is between a grassroots group and their OM. It references the terms and conditions as well as roles and responsibilities of each partner. Work with groups and project leaders to complete, review and sign the agreement.​ Groups will submit the signed agreement.

Note: Your organization can only partner with one approved grassroots group per year. As an OM, you may also apply as Lead on a System Innovations Grant.

Grassroots groups choose their OM, supported by the YOF if needed. Here's a step-by-step approach to finding the right OM for your group and initiative.

1. Build a shortlist of two or three potential OMs

  • Brainstorm a list of organizations whose work aligns with yours
  • Do you have a mentor or adult ally who can recommend potential OMs?
  • Is your group already connected with organizations through past programs, volunteering, etc.?
  • Are there organizations in your community you would like to partner with?  
  • Review the list of current and past grantees on the OTF website to see organizations that are, or have been, OMs
  • Connect with other grassroots groups to see which organizations they have worked with and discover the lessons they learned

2. Learn more about the OMs on your shortlist

  • Check if you share similar mission and mandates
  • Do the OMs on your list share your core values?
  • Will a partnership be mutually enriching?
  • Where possible, informally connect with people who work for the OM to get a deeper understanding of their mandate, their work in the community, and who they serve and engage with
  • Have the OMs on your list worked with other grassroots groups? If yes, try connecting with these groups to learn more about their experience
  • Ensure that OMs on your shortlist meet the requirements for being an OM, as listed in the eligibility list

3. Select the OM you would like to work with and start building a relationship

  • Make an appointment to share more details about your work and your group's initiative
  • It is critical to connect with the Executive Director or other senior management staff before you make your final decision. Frontline staff do not have the signing authority to agree to this partnership
  • Demonstrate the value your project brings to the OM and how it aligns with the OM’s mission and programming
  • As a starting point, use the conversation guide below to help shape your initial discussion
  • Ask if the organization is interested in working with you as well. Don’t assume they are.
  • Don’t be discouraged if the organization is unable to be your OM. They may not have the capacity to partner at this time, or they may already be partnered with another grassroots group applying to the YOF. Ask for recommendations of other organizations you could approach.

4. Plan for overhead and administrative support costs

  • While it can be hard to talk about money, it’s important to discuss these costs with the OM up front
  • Total administrative costs required is 15% of the budget

Questions grassroots groups can ask of selected OMs:

  • Why are you interested in mentoring and working with grassroots groups?
  • What do you need from us to make this partnership positive and productive?
  • Can you share what you’ve learned from past experiences working with other groups?
  • What type of support can your organization offer as we implement our project idea?
  • Would you be able to provide us with feedback as we deliver our project?
  • Would you be open to creating a mechanism to share lessons learned and for problem-solving as we enter into this partnership?
  • How frequently would you like to have meetings and check-ins?
  • What process will you use to administer funds?
  • What will the funds reconciliation process look like?
  • Will there be an opportunity to access space, resources, and/or tools from your organization?
  • Can you provide a specific contact that has the time and resources to support our project?
  • Is there a secondary contact in the case of an absence, emergency, or change in staffing?

Questions OMs can ask of grassroots youth groups:

  • Tell us about your group. How many members do you have? What is your experience of working together? What are the different roles that your members play?
  • Tell us about your project idea
  • What kind of partnership would you like to have if we work together?
  • Can you share your past experiences working with an OM?
  • What type of support are you looking for as you implement your project idea and plan for the future?
  • Are there any specific areas of your project that you would like our expertise in?
  • How frequently would you like to have meetings and check-ins?  What is the frequency of the reporting, meetings, and check-ins that you would anticipate?

Groups recommended for funding must submit a signed OM - Grassroots Groups Collaborative Agreement. This is an important step as you enter into contract with your selected OM. Take time to review, and ensure that you agree with the terms and conditions, and how it will ground your relationship as partners in the work.

Please use our OM – Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement template. As you complete the agreement, take this opportunity to:

  • Identify the main points of contact for both your group and the OM
  • Set realistic goals for the kinds of support the OM can offer
  • Identify the frequency of formal meetings, check-ins, and reporting
  • Understand the financial and project reporting tools the OM uses
  • Develop a schedule for the release of funds and reconciliation of project expenses
  • Develop a mechanism for problem-solving and giving/receiving feedback
  • Develop a process for managing and reconciling funds