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You asked, we answered: FAQ for CIRA Grants

By Caitlin Sears
Grants Coordinator

If you’re interested in applying for a CIRA Grant to receive funding for a community-led internet project, you may have some questions, and it’s likely that you’re not the first one to ask. That’s why, following our grants webinar, we compiled a list of questions that our team receives frequently. We hope this helps you prepare your application for a project that will help build a resilient, trusted and secure internet for all Canadians.

Are letters of support from the community required for all applications?

Yes! Letter(s) of support from the community are now a required part of all applications regardless of organization or project type. You can read about the application process and all the documentation you’ll need as part of your submission on our website.

Do you have examples of the types of letter(s) of support that would be acceptable?

We don’t have any hard and fast rules about the types of letter(s) to submit. The purpose of this requirement is to demonstrate that you are engaged with the community partners and/or participants that you expect to benefit from your project. What is the story behind why a grant is needed? What needs were articulated by the people your project will serve that encouraged you to develop a project? A letter or letters of support shows us you have developed relationships that will help the project succeed. Community members that could provide a letter might include:

  • Teachers and/or parents that will benefit from tools and training for students regarding online safety
  • Residents or business associations in a community that will benefit from infrastructure upgrades to high-speed internet
  • Partner organizations that will be involved in project delivery

Can you clarify the eligibility of public libraries?

Libraries are eligible to apply for a grant if they are a registered charity or incorporated as a not-for-profit. You can learn more about the types of organizations we fund here.

If my organization receives a grant, how is the funding paid out over the project period?

Organizations will receive their grant in one lump sum payment at the beginning of the project.

My organization is planning a Policy Engagement project. What are the expectations in terms of research, focus groups, surveys, or stakeholder consultations?

CIRA does not set any expectations in terms of project plans or outputs. In some cases, convenings or advocacy opportunities might be the project activities; in others it might be research, awareness-raising, and reports – or a combination of all of the above. It’s up to the applicant to determine which methodologies are best suited to achieving their goals and the outcomes they want to see, like the number of reports, the number of target beneficiaries, or the number of people at an event.

Are start-up not for-profit organizations eligible?

Yes, any organization incorporated as a not-for-profit is eligible to receive a grant. Our Evaluation Panel seeks to assess risk by looking at financial statements and operating budgets. They look at the financial and project management track record of applicants as a way to assess the likelihood of success of their projects. The expectation is that the applicant finds ways to demonstrate financial and project management capability and capacity within their application. If your organization is just recently incorporated (e.g., in the last year), one option to consider is to partner with an established eligible organization that takes the lead responsibility for the project.

Are these grants restricted to only Northern, rural, and Indigenous communities and/or students? How likely is it that a project that doesn’t focus on Indigenous communities or students will be funded?

While CIRA’s granting program will consider applications that benefit everyone in Canada, we’re especially looking for initiatives that benefit Northern, rural, or Indigenous communities and/or students. Since we can only fund about 15% of the projects submitted, you will have a greater chance of receiving a grant if your project benefits these target communities.

Where can I find examples of previous grant recipients?

Click here to find past projects CIRA has funded. Keep in mind that while some previous organizations received funding for Digital Literacy initiatives, that is no longer a funding area for 2023. The funding area previously known as Community Leadership is now called Policy Engagement for 2023. We do ask on the application form that you distinguish how your project is unique from projects previously funded.

If we submit well before the deadline on April 12, 2023, your team will review our submission and may get back to us, providing an opportunity to edit our application, if we re-submit before the deadline?

Yes, we recommend submitting applications well in advance of our deadline on April 12 at 2 p.m. ET – especially since Easter falls right before our deadline. When your application is submitted into our online system, CIRA staff review it to ensure it is eligible and complete, and we will send you a follow-up email if anything is missing or incorrect. Typically, half of the applications submitted require some adjustment before they can be accepted. Some reasons for this include missing documentation, sections left blank in the application form, or budget revenues and expenses not matching. Up until 2 p.m. on April 12, you will have the opportunity to correct your application and send it back to us. But if anything is missing after that deadline, your application will be rejected and you will not be able to move forward in the process. (P.S. Make sure you know what time 2 p.m. ET is in your time zone as our online system will not accept late submissions!)

How far in advance should we submit applications prior April 12?

Ideally you would submit your application as far in advance as possible. We receive a high volume of applications, and if you submit only hours or a day before the deadline at 2p.m., you may not have time to make any adjustments to your application if anything is missing or incorrect.

I have a great idea for a project but I’m not sure if it would be eligible for a grant. Is there someone I can ask?

Start by closely reviewing all of the material on our website to get a sense of the types of projects we are looking to fund in 2023. If you need further guidance, you can reach out to [email protected] with a brief summary of your project and we’ll try to answer any questions. Keep in mind that CIRA staff are only here to assess the eligibility of an application and have no influence over which organizations receive a grant – it is our Evaluation Panel that makes recommendations ultimately decided by our Board of Directors.

Applications for CIRA Grants are open now and close at 2 p.m. ET on April 12, 2023! If you have an idea for an internet project that will benefit your community, you can read more about our grants program here. You can also read more tips for applying on our blog or watch our applicant webinar.

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.