Community Grant Program


On November 9, 2023, Dufferin County Council adopted a new Community Grants structure and criteria. Click here to view Policy #1-2-12 Community Grants. The new policy is outlined below. The application form follows.

The Community Grant program is designed to support community goals. These community goals are based on extensive consultation with residents and stakeholders as part of the County Strategic Plan. The amount of funds available varies each year depending on the budget. The County of Dufferin partners with Headwaters Communities in Action (HCIA) to administer the Community Grant program.

Dufferin County offers this program in order to support its strategic goals in the following streams:

  • Climate and Environment
  • Community
    • Cultural Enhancement
    • Access to food
    • Youth and Seniors Services
  • Economic Development
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

The Community Grant program, its policy and procedures will be guided by the County’s core values:

  • Collaboration: We actively engage and partner across departments and with community members, stakeholders, and other organizations to collectively address our challenges and achieve our shared goals.
  • Accountability: We are transparent and take responsibility and ownership for our actions and decisions.
  • Innovation: We embrace a culture of continuous improvement and creativity, seeking innovative solutions for an ever-changing community.
  • Compassion: We act with kindness and demonstrate empathy and understanding in serving our community.
  • Courage: We lead with conviction and act in the best interest of the County and our community.



  1. Groundwork Grant (multi-year) – up to 3-year funding agreement with the County for community organizations to strengthen their organization or to ensure the continuation of long-running programs that are of vital importance and value to the community
  2. Bloom Grant (one year) – provided for programs or events that engage in one time funding for initiatives in alignment with the Community Grant Program goals
  3. Grassroots Grant (one year) - for unincorporated grassroots groups or newly incorporated not-for-profit organizations that require support for a new initiative (This stream is limited to a maximum of $3,000)



  1. Applicants must be:
    a school, a registered not-for-profit or charitable organization
    a non-registered group or organization that is partnered with a registered organization, in which case you must attach a letter of support/partnership or endorsement from the partner that includes their registration/charitable number, if applicable.
    located in Dufferin County and /or must serve Dufferin County in its catchment area.
  2. The project or organization cannot already be supported by the County of Dufferin.
  3. Funding requests are limited to one application per organization. (Partner organizations can support more than one applicant)
  4. Projects must benefit Dufferin County residents.

The Community Grants Program will not provide funding to:

  1. Individuals
  2. For-profit organizations
  3. Other levels of government
  4. Political organizations
  5. An organization that acts as a funding body or makes grants to another organization
  6. Organizations whose activities could be deemed discriminatory as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code



All applications that are submitted by eligible organizations will be assessed against the following criteria: 

  1. Anticipated positive community impact aligned to the Community Grant Program goals. Project proposals must clearly indicate how the initiative will benefit the participants and the Dufferin community.
  2. Evidence of community support. This support could include:
  • additional financial and non-financial resources being leveraged from other sources;
  • details of the number of volunteers that will be involved in the work, and the number of hours they will bring; and
  • collaboration or partnership with other organizations
  1. Strengthens or supports the longevity of the organization and activity as applicable. Sound organizational track record. This considers if the organization has the ability, skills and capacity, including financial capacity, to undertake the work as described in the application.
  2. That the activities do not unnecessarily duplicate successful efforts that already exist in the community.
  3. Evidence that the organization needs the funding. Organizations that have budgets or financial statements indicating a significant surplus will be required to provide explanations of the surplus and how the organization intends to use it. The level of organizational reserves may be considered.
  4. The amount of funding requested by applicants, the funding available in the program and the number and quality of funding requests.


Other Considerations

  1. This is a competitive process. Overall funding allocation may vary depending on the budget passed by Council. Funding requests may be granted in full, granted in part or declined, at the discretion of the assessment team.
  2. New or recurring events - preference will be given to events that are not fundraisers. For events that also fundraise, the ultimate beneficiary must be identified in the application. Also, any funds granted from the County must be used for the event aspects that are of direct benefit to residents, not to pay fundraising costs.
  3. Organizations may request Groundwork funds for up to a 3-year term. This is accomplished by allowing applicable overhead, administrative and/or capital expenses, as needed to sustain an organization as eligible expenses. Applications for Groundwork funds must clearly demonstrate need and how the organization benefits residents of Dufferin, as well as how multi-year funding will address a funding challenge for the organization.



Eligible Expenses

  • Purchase of goods and services in keeping with the aim of the project
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Overhead or administrative costs (limited to 15% for Bloom Grant & Grassroots Grant)

Ineligible Expenses

  • Capital funding and infrastructure costs (exceptions may be made for limited capital expenditures that are directly needed to run proposed programs) 
  • Debt retirement, deficit reduction, depreciation or financing charges
  • Secondary allocations. This refers to the process where funds received through the Community Grant Program are allocated to another organization by the applicant or a third party via a funding allocation process such as a grant program.


If you would like to view a complete copy of ALL questions on the Community Grant application, please click here. Please note it is a comprehensive list and not all questions will be applicable to every applicant.



Grant applications will be assessed by Headwaters Communities in Action and will be evaluated against a matrix to ensure transparency and an equitable process. The evaluation matrix is intended to be an objective tool to assess each of the applications against the criteria outlined in the Community Grants policy. The scores determined by the use of the evaluation matrix are not to be considered the sole determining factor on which grant decisions will be made but is rather a tool to facilitate discussions about each application. The committee will also consider the overall distribution of funds across the County’s goals and may recommend partial awards to ensure that benefits apply broadly across the community.

Grant applications will be assessed based on the following criteria:  

  • Alignment with the County’s Strategic Plan and other County Plans (e.g. Community Safety & Well-Being, Economic Development, Climate & Environment Plan)
  • Community Impact/Benefit to Residents
  • Merits of the funding request
  • Organizational profile
  • Organization’s finances



Applications open       Applications close          Assessment & Report                   Committee Presentation & Recommendations                   Council Consideration

December 2023-------January 31, 2024------------February 2024--------------- General Government Services Committee March 28, 2024-----------April 11, 2024

Notifications will go out following Council approval.



Questions about specific questions on the application, the assessment process, recommendations or grant stories can be directed to Headwaters Communities In Action at

Questions regarding the application form, notifications or payments can be directed to or call 519-941-2816 ext. 2500.


group of people standing in a circle with their hands piled in the centre

Application Form

Grant Writing Tips

Be succinct and mindful of word limits.  Answer just the questions asked and avoid jargon and extraneous detail. Write a little about your “Why”, and more about your “What” and “How”. We want to know a bit about your organization and its mission and goals as related to your proposed project. Then outline the key points about your proposed project or program and how it helps deliver on the County’s priorities. We want to hear specifically what you plan to do, how Dufferin residents will benefit, and how this fund will help you achieve your goals. Avoid referring to external marketing documents, websites or annual reports - the assessors are unlikely to read them.

Be clear about how you plan to spend the funds. Itemize your planned expenditures and list out separately how much is needed for overhead and administration, staff time, supplies, marketing and advertising and other expenses. If there are per-unit costs that can be adjusted to fit a reduced scope of impact or budget, include those figures (e.g. $3.62 per meal, $10 per child or $250 per workshop). 

Show your big picture thinking. If your organization addresses root causes of the issues you focus on, include that and describe how you work upstream to help with prevention and reducing community need. 

Partner up. If you do not fit the criteria for who can apply, do not try to apply on your own. Join forces with a partner who is eligible. If you do not have a partner in mind, we are happy to discuss your project and help you connect with organizations that align with your proposal.

Didn’t get approved? Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to discuss the reasons your application may not have been approved and how you can improve future applications. Email: