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Systems Change Grants: Develop, Test and Scale Grants

Grants to British Columbia Charities and Donees for
Vital Social, Cultural, and Environmental Projects

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Vancouver Foundation

Deadline Date:

10/16/20 11:59 PM PDT


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Grants to British Columbia charities and donees for vital environmental, cultural, and social activities that benefit local communities. Funding is intended to support innovative projects across all sectors, including health, social services, education, children and youth services, technical and vocational training, and animal welfare. Funded activities will generate ideas, create project plans, test their influence on systems, and extend that influence to a different scale in order to achieve system-wide change within organizations, populations, and institutions.

The Vancouver Foundation's Systems Change Grants support projects that take action to address the root causes of pressing social, environmental or cultural issues by influencing the behaviors of populations, organizations, and institutions. The Foundation also supports work that benefits communities and populations as a whole, as this contributes to meaningful and lasting change.

The Systems Change Grants Program funds projects that:

  • Tackle the root causes of complex issues by disrupting the ways that systems work—sometimes this means challenging the way things have worked for generations
  • Collaborate within and across sectors by breaking down the silos between health and social services, education, employment, environment, or arts and culture, among others
  • Are bold, creative, and ambitious in their approach to systems change
  • Are socially innovative, such as by grounding a project in cultural knowledge and practices, by doing something new or using existing resources in a new way, by doing something that has worked elsewhere, or by trying something again under different conditions
  • Have the potential to create lasting change for communities across British Columbia

There are three types of grants:

  1. Develop Grants are short-term grants to help teams generate ideas and a project plan for systems change
    that can be submitted to funders. At the end of a Develop grant, teams are expected to have a) identified behaviors that are holding a complex issue in place, and b) created a project plan to try to influence that issue at a systems level. 
  2. Test Grants are multi-year grants to help project teams test their influence on systems and to learn what works in leading to change. 
  3. Scale Grants are multi-year grants to help project teams extend the influence of an existing systems change project to a different scale within the system..

For more information on each of these grants, see:

- Develop Grants

- Test Grants

- Scale Grants

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 183950

Estimated Size of Grant:

- Develop Grants: Up to $20,000. They offer up to $10,000 towards the project's process, and up to an additional $10,000 to support community's participation in the process.
- Test and Scale Grants: Up to $100,000 per year (for up to three years)

Term of Contract:

Length of grant:
- Develop Grants: Up to one year
- Test and Scale Grants: Up to three years

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Systems Change Projects must be led by a registered charity or other qualified donee listed by Canada Revenue Agency.

Systems Change Grants don’t fund:
- Projects that focus exclusively on providing services or programs to a group or community, without also aiming to influence change at a systems level (e.g., community kitchens, peer navigators/mentorships)
- Projects that take place primarily outside of BC
- An organization’s core operational expenses (including its cost to fundraise), unless the systems change work is its core operations
- Project expenses that have been incurred prior to the application date or that the Foundation feels should be covered by other funding sources
- Event sponsorships (unless part of a broader systems change project)
- Bridge funding, debt retirement, reserves, or mortgage pay-downs
- Endowment matching grants
- Direct religious purposes
- Capital and public infrastructure projects (e.g. libraries, schools, health care facilities)
- Travel to and/or attendance at conferences, competitions, symposia or annual events (unless part of a broader systems change project)
- Bursaries, scholarships, and awards (unless part of a broader systems change project)
- Covid-19 emergency relief projects (that are not addressing broader systems change)

Pre-proposal Conference:

Foundation staff hold workshops across British Columbia that you can attend, and they are also available for one-to-one consultations to discuss your ideas and to help you think about how best to develop your project proposal

Pre-Application Information:

Develop grants are a one-stage application. Test and Scale Grants require a two-step application process.

Develop Grants Timeline*:
- September 21 to October 16, 2020: Submit your application online
- November 30, 2020: Decisions about application communicated via email

*You can apply for a Develop grant at any time through the online system. Grants are awarded quarterly, and the website hosts the latest cut-off dates.

Test and Scale Grants Timeline**:
- September 21, 2020: Stage 1 online application process opens
- October 16, 2020: Deadline to complete the Stage 1 online application process
- December 10, 2020: Decisions about Stage 1 Applications communicated via email
- January 24, 2021: Deadline to complete the Stage 2 online application process (by invitation only)
- April 9, 2021: Decisions on Test and Scale Grants communicated via email

**You can submit an application for a Test or Scale Grant during the spring or fall grant cycle.

Note that applications close at 11:59pm PDT on the due date.

Match Requirement:
- Develop Grants do not require matching funds.
- Test Grants require a 25% match from other sources.
- Scale Grants require a 50% match from other sources.

Systems Change Grants Overview:

Eligibility Quiz:

Evaluation of Systems Change Grantmaking:

Online Application Assistance Video:

For a list of How to Videos offering detailed instructions on how to use the online application system, see URL for Full Text below.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

To apply online:

If you have any questions about the application process, please call one of the Grant Managers at 604.688.2204.

To talk about systems change or project design, arrange a workshop, or request support with a current grant, please schedule a consultation with:
- Niveria Oliveira​, Grant Manager:
- Mike Conroy, Grant Manager:

For information about the application process, or to discuss the priorities and policies of the Systems Change Grants program, please contact:
- Kristina Chan, Grant Coordinator:
- Stephanie Falcon, Grant Coordinator:
- Jill St. James, Grant Coordinator:

For general grant-related questions or assistance with the online application system, please contact:
- Hayleigh Chafe, Grant Administrator:

Vancouver Foundation
Suite 200, 475 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC Canada V6B 4M9

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

Canada: British Columbia;

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