Youth Innovations Test Grant

Find inspiring solutions to issues facing young people. Youth Innovations Test grants support youth-led and youth-adult partnerships to research important issues, explore different approaches, and test new ideas.

Term length

Minimum 1 year, Maximum 3 years

Amount awarded (per year)

Minimum N/A

Maximum $85,000

Looking for better ways to support young people?

Are you a youth-led grassroots group or a youth-adult partnership? Apply for a Youth Innovations Test grant for a project designed to support other youth in your community in one of these three areas:

  • Research a new concept or issue
  • Strategize around an issue(s) affecting people you want to support
  • Test a new project idea

Important Dates and Deadlines

Step 1: Expression of Interest (EOI)

Submission opens for EOI May 31, 2023
Deadline to submit EOI August 23, 2023 at 5 PM ET
Notification of status of EOI  Approximately 6 weeks after EOI deadline

Step 2: Grant application

Only applicants with a successful EOI will be invited to submit a grant application.

Deadline to submit the grant application, which includes the signed OM- Grassroots Group Collaborative Agreement 

Deadline to register the Organizational Mentor (OM)

November 15, 2023, 5 PM ET

Notification of funding decision Approximately 8 weeks after the grant application deadline
Organizational Mentor Application Open year round
Start date for all Grants March 1, 2024

Plan your application

Test grants support projects at the idea stage. A Test grant can support your group to make an impact in your community by learning something new to help drive positive change. To give your application the best chance of being successful, please read the information on this page carefully and access available supports. It will help you make sure that your group, project, and the people you want to support align with Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) funding priorities.

Take time to consider these key questions:


Discover if your group is eligible for funding, and make sure your beneficiaries are in YOF's primary beneficiaries. Potential organizational mentors should also review the information in this section.

Group eligibility

The YOF supports projects led by youth who share identities, experiences, and face the same systemic barriers as the people who will benefit from the project. This “by and for” principle is a requirement in all YOF funding streams.

We prioritize projects led by and for Indigenous (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) youth and Black youth.

Eligible groups

Your group may be eligible if it meets our definitions of a youth-led group or youth-adult partnership, and:

  • Is led by youth, ages 29 years or under, who share identities and experiences with those they will engage in project activities 
  • Has three or more core members
  • Is an:
  • Exists independent of a larger organization. This means the group has autonomy to choose their Organizational Mentor, design the project, identify group members, and plan for the future. 
  • Is based in Ontario 
  • Agrees to work with an Organizational Mentor (OM)

Ineligible groups

The following are not eligible to apply: 

  • Registered charities
  • Groups composed of all team members ages 30 years or older (all-adult teams)
  • Groups/projects based at an existing organization (not-for-profit or for profit)
  • Groups specifically designed to serve young people through committees or clubs of institutions, including municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals
  • For-profit businesses  
  • Individuals 

Project eligibility

Your project may be eligible if it:

  • Includes all required information 
  • Strongly aligns with your chosen YOF Priority Outcome 
  • Complies with OTF policies. Our policy requirements define eligibility for OTF funding and outline exclusions. Funds are granted to eligible applicants delivering eligible project activities that directly align with YOF Priority Outcomes.
  • Benefits young people ages 12-25, and/or 12-29 for youth living with special needs and/or disabilities

Application process

YOF's application process involves various steps for groups and organizational mentors.

Key dates and Expression of Interest (EOI) submission
Create a user profile
  • Start your application by logging in or creating a new user profile in our application portal
  • If you are creating a new user profile, please enter the name of your group’s primary contact with their email address. We will email this person a user ID, temporary password, and instructions on how to access the online Expression of Interest (EOI).
Notification of shortlisting and grant application submission
  • We will tell you the status of your EOI around 4-6 weeks after the EOI deadline
  • Begin to research potential Organizational Mentors (OM)
  • If your group is shortlisted, you will be invited to submit a grant application
Notification of grant application status
  • Your group will receive news on the status of your grant application around 6-7 weeks after the grant application deadline
  • If your application has been recommended for funding by the YOF Grant Review Committee (GRC), we will ask you to submit information about your OM. This includes:
OM application and assessment (OMs only)
  • Review relevant deadlines for the OM application
  • Is your organization new to OTF? If yes, Register online once the OM application is live
  • Is your organization already registered with the OTF? Once the OM application is live, you will Log in to apply online. Look for Applications (YOF) in the top right corner. Click to access OM Application
  • The YOF team will verify your organization’s eligibility (review OTF policies)
  • If your organization is not eligible, we will ask you to notify the relevant groups and project leaders impacted by this decision, and the YOF team will provide supports to find a new potential OM.
Recommendation and selection
  • The volunteer YOF Grant Review Committee (GRC) will finalize funding recommendations following the submission of OM information
  • OTF’s Board of Directors approve these recommendations
Notification of funding approval
After approval
  • Start date: The start date is no earlier than March 1, 2024
  • Reporting & monitoring: In addition to scheduled touch points, grantees track activities, spending, and learning to complete the annual progress report and a final report.
  • Capacity building: Learn and connect with other YOF grantees by participating in YOF led events and making the most of capacity building funds available in your project budget.
  • Evaluation: Grantees must work with a YOF external evaluation partner to evaluate progress towards the chosen YOF Priority Outcome.
  • Completion: After OTF staff approve a final report, the grant hold-back funds, which is the final payment for the project, are released and the grant is closed.
  • Grantee compliance: A random sample of grants are subject to a grantee compliance audit. Grant files can be audited for compliance at any point during the grant's life, or after the grant has been closed.

Choose your project type

Test grants aim to drive positive change in your community by helping you research new ideas and concepts, strategize on actions your group can take, build evidence that something works, or develop or pilot an idea or approach. Three types of projects qualify for a Test grant. Choose the one that most closely aligns with your project.

Choose this project type if your group wants to learn and understand more about a specific topic or issue. Consider how your group will conduct the research, how much time this work will take, and how your group will share what you learn, for example through a research paper, report, website, or presentation. If your group choose this type of Test grant, the research topic must align with one of the Youth Innovations Priority Outcomes.

Choose this project type if your group wants to bring youth together to discuss an issue, as a first step in coming up with community inspired solutions. Depending on your group’s aims and the stage of the discussion, what you learn could include:

  • Understanding an issue and its impact on your community
  • Discovering who is already working on an issue, who is joining the conversation, and who might be left out
  • Developing some common goals or strategies to respond to the issue 
  • Coming up with next steps as a collective 

The focus of your group’s strategizing work must align with one of the Youth Innovations Priority Outcomes.

This type of project focuses on trying out a new idea that has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of young people.  The idea your group wants to test must align with one of the Youth Innovations Priority Outcomes.

Choose your Priority Outcome

Youth Innovations Priority Outcomes reflect the changes YOF is investing in. All approved projects must advance one of these outcomes through project activities. While many of the outcomes focus on key priority populations or experiences, we will prioritize Indigenous and Black youth as part of our commitments to addressing systemic barriers to economic and social wellbeing. The one Priority Outcome your group chooses identifies the impact your project will have.

When choosing your YOF Priority Outcome, ask yourself:

  • What key issues and/or challenges do your selected YOF youth beneficiaries face?
  • Over the past two years, what changes did your group achieve through your core project activities and what changes do you want to sustain as a group?
  • What results does your group hope to achieve through your project? 

As you fill out your application, you should align your answers to the YOF Priority Outcome your project will achieve.

  • Supporting youth in and leaving care and/or involved in the justice system to navigate and access resources for wellbeing 
  • Addressing racism and its impacts on youth in urban, rural and/or Northern communities 
  • Empowering girls and young women to lead, including women’s economic empowerment initiatives 
  • Supporting Indigenous, Black, and/or newcomer youth to enter the labour market and transition to sustainable career pathways 
  • Creating safe spaces for Indigenous and/or Black youth to build strong community and cultural connections 

Choose your Primary Beneficiaries

As your group completes your application, be sure to align your test project with the primary beneficiaries named in the YOF Priority Outcome you have selected. We recognize that your primary beneficiaries may hold other identities and experiences that are critical to your research, strategizing or testing work. In your application identify both the primary beneficiaries as well as those intersecting identities and experiences that are most relevant to what you are doing and why. Be intentional and specific in your decision-making at this stage.

  • Indigenous youth (First Nation, Métis, or Inuit) 
  • Black youth   
  • Racialized youth   
  • Newcomer youth   
  • Francophone youth   
  • Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual (2SLGBTQIA+) youth
  • Youth living with disabilities or special needs between the ages of 12 to 29   
  • Youth living with mental health needs and/or addiction 
  • Youth living in rural, remote and/or Northern communities   
  • Youth in conflict or at risk of being in conflict with the law   
  • Youth in care or leaving care   
  • Youth at-risk of dropping out or have dropped out   
  • Youth in low-income situations or from low-income families   
  • Youth who are homeless or at risk of being homeless
  • Youth who are not engaged or at risk of not being engaged with education programs, employment programs, or training programs 


What is a youth-led group?

A youth-led group is a group that:

  • Has a majority of individuals aged 29 or under at the governance or decision-making level
  • Has youth, 12 to 29, managing the project (from planning, to implementation and evaluation)
  • Serves youth as its primary mandate

What is a youth-adult partnership?

A youth-adult partnership is a group that has young people as its primary audience and where youth and adults share power. This looks like:

  • Shared responsibility for decision-making about the project and the group
  • Shared responsibility for planning and delivery of activities and the budget
  • Shared responsibility for planning for the future of the project and the group

What is a grassroots group?

The work of a grassroots youth-led group or youth-adult partnership is community-led and community-inspired. Grassroots group means that core group members share identities and lived experiences with the young people who will benefit.

Not sure if you are eligible? Reach out to us at

Eligible and ineligible project expenses

  • Staffing (with considerations for Mandatory Employee Required Costs (MERC) of 20%) 
    • As you consider the roles and responsibilities of  staff, ensure  you include  livable wages to support your program delivery.
  • Transportation 
  • Honorarium (participants, volunteers) 
  • Support Services (translation, interpretation, child-minding) 
  • Project supplies and materials 
  • Project equipment (rental or purchase) 
  • Food 
  • Communications (website, promotions)
  • Fees (for services delivered by experts, facilitators) 
  • Contingency (maximum of 10% per year) 

Mandatory Expenses that need to be included in every request:

  • Administrative Support Costs (OM)- 15% of total budget  
  • Capacity Building: minimum of $4,000 per year required and up to a maximum of $6000 per year
  • Capital infrastructure expenses (renovations to space) 
  • Expenses related to political or religious activities 
  • General or ongoing operating expenses (unrelated to the project) 
  • Bursaries, scholarships, sponsorships or individual requests (including regranting funds to other projects or people)
  • Fundraising campaigns

For a full list of ineligible expenses, review OTF’s Eligibility Policy.

Expression of Interest (EOI) assessment

How are Test EOIs assessed?

  • Your Test EOI is assessed based on three areas of the application: Group Eligibility, People, and Strategy (See YI EOI Test Questions and Scorecard for more details)
  • At the EOI stage, the Project Plan and Budget will be reviewed by a YOF Program Manager but not assessed
  • If your group is invited to submit a Grant Application, a YOF Program Manager will reach out to share feedback on the Project Plan and Budget before the Grant Application deadline
  • The Project and Budget will only be assessed at the Grant Application stage of the application process
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