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Applying for a CIRA Grant? Here’s six tips to set you up for success

By Caitlin Sears
Grants Coordinator

Are you interested in funding for internet projects in your community? Apply for a CIRA Net Good Grant by April 10 at 2 p.m. ET! Grants are available up to $100,000 to fund community-led internet projects that benefit remote, Northern or Indigenous communities or students (K-12 and post-secondary).

We know preparing an application can seem daunting, so we’ve put together six tips to make sure your application stands out.

Tip #1: Check your alignment

Making sure your project fits CIRA’s criteria should be your first step. We fund projects in three areas: infrastructure, online safety, and policy engagement. You can find some examples on our website.

In addition to making sure your project aligns, it’s important to review CIRA’s Evaluation Criteria. Our CIRA Grants Evaluation Panel uses this set of criteria to decide which projects are funded.

Tip #2: Plan your timeline

Lay out a clear plan that demonstrates the project outputs are realistically achievable in your proposed timeframe. With over 200 funded projects to date, CIRA’s Evaluation Panel is adept at doing a reality check and knows when a plan is too vague or unrealistic. Show that your organization has the experience and expertise to deliver. Demonstrating your track record from previous projects helps. The Evaluation Panel wants to see that the organizational capacity is there to ensure that your vision can become reality.

Tip #3: Demonstrate community support

Your project proposal should show how the beneficiary community(ies) is connected to your organization and how they’ve played a role in the development of the project. This includes providing three letters of support from community partners and/or community participants to demonstrate how you’ve engaged the community, established relationships and what direct or indirect benefits they will receive. This step is worth 25% of your overall project score, so it’s a key element of your application.

Tip #4: Think long-term

Outcomes are the specific concrete results and changes you foresee for the community. Show us the tangible outputs as well as the anticipated changes the beneficiaries will experience.  And when it comes to sustainability, CIRA looks for projects whose value and benefits will live on after the initial project investment. It’s important to show that you’ve thought through what becomes of the project outputs once the funding ends. Will people or communities still be able to benefit after your project ends?

Tip #5: Dollars and sense 

The budget you present tells the nuts-and-bolts story of your project. What people and tools do you need to get the job done? Provide as much detail as possible on the costs and units of measure. Your budget should be reasonable and appropriate to the scope of the project and your organization’s capacity to manage the funds. This will be assessed based on the accompanying financial documentation you are asked to provide: your organization’s most recent audited financial statements and its current operating budget.

Visit our sample application page to download the budget template you’ll need to include as part of your application. Example budgets are included to give you an idea of how to fill it out correctly.

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Tip #6: Apply early

This is the most important tip – apply early! Why? As soon as you submit your project, we do an eligibility check and review the completeness of your documentation and budget. If anything needs adjusting, we’ll follow up by e-mail and you’ll have the opportunity to make corrections prior to the deadline of April 10 at 2 p.m. ET. After that date, your project will be deemed ineligible should there be any issues with your application. Make sure you keep an eye on your junk or spam folders as the follow-up emails come from our online application system.

We know that grant applications take time and effort, and we don’t want a last-minute application to cost you a brilliant project idea. Save yourself the stress and try to submit early. It is your responsibility to provide complete documentation by 2 p.m. ET on April 10.

Helpful links

If you have any questions about Net Good Grants, reach out to [email protected]

About the author
Caitlin Sears

Caitlin is part of CIRA’s Net Good team as Grants Coordinator. Her background is in the charitable sector, and she is passionate about funding digital equity.