Applying for a Grant

Vital Community Grants

Each year, the Community Foundation grants thousands of dollars to charities in the community. While many grants are recommended by fund advisors and external donors, Vital Community Grants are made possible through contributions to a number of funds that grant at the discretion of the Community Foundation.

Information about the 2022 Vital Community Grants program will be coming soon.

The theme for 2021 Vital Community Grants was Equitable COVID-19 Recovery

In 2020, Vital Community Grants helped thirty charities who serve vulnerable populations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the ongoing challenges that the virus presents, the focus of  Vital Community Grants in 2021 remained COVID-19 support. Racialized communities, Indigenous people, women, people with disabilities and others facing systemic inequality have experienced a heightened chance of exposure to the virus, social isolation, lack of access to services and education, worse health outcomes, and adverse economic repercussions that have exacerbated housing and food security issues. Vital Community Grants were made available to organizations whose work focuses on supporting people disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in 2021.

Our Vital Community Grants are focused on equity (2021)

At the Foundation, our purpose is to build a vital community for everyone. That is a transformative vision and we know that in order to fulfill it, we must embed an understanding of equity in our work. Equity is about fairness and justice; it’s a concept that helps us recognize how biases in our culture have led to systems of oppression that put barriers between individuals and their ability to live a healthy, happy life. Equity is about removing the barriers as well as addressing the underlying systems of oppression so that everyone in our community can have a fair chance of living a healthy, happy life.

We are using a participatory process (2021)

Participatory grantmaking is a decision-making process that puts those benefiting from the grants at its heart. It invites those who are most knowledgeable and affected by an issue to identify priorities and direct the available funds. For the Community Foundation, it is an expression of our values of trust, inclusivity, collaboration, and vitality, and is based on the principle of “nothing about us without us”.

In the past eighteen months, the Community Foundation has run several participatory grantmaking rounds for our Gender Equality and COVID-19 Community Response Fund grants. With this model, the recipients of the grants are the ones who bring direct, current knowledge to the decision-making table and decide amongst themselves how to share the available funds. It makes sense for the Vital Community Grants to be decided by community members, especially by the people and charities with lived experience, personally or professionally, who will actually benefit from the ensuing grants.

We expect that eight to twelve eligible applicants will be invited to participate in a granting circle this fall – a series of conversations about the issue, the applications, and the decisions about grants themselves.

In the past, Vital Community Grants have averaged $5,000 but given the nature of participatory grantmaking, the amounts granted this year may vary according to the consensus of the participants themselves. Grants will not be project-specific. All charities participating in the granting circle conversations will be guaranteed a grant of $1,000.

Eligibility (2021)

Applicants must meet all of the eligibility criteria in order to apply:

1. Organizations must be registered charities operating within the City and/or County of Peterborough, Hiawatha First Nation or Curve Lake First Nation. Status as a “qualified donee” in good standing will be verified through the CRA website as part of the application process.

Organizations that are not qualified donees must work with a sponsoring charity and complete a “Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement.” Please contact the Community Foundation to ask for a form. If your application is successful, the sponsoring organization will receive the grant.

2. Applicant organizations must specifically work with and on behalf of people who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to systemic inequalities (for instance, racialized people, women, or people with disabilities), and this focus must be reflected in the organization’s mission, purpose and programs. You must be able to identify the marginalized population that is the focus of your organization’s work and describe their experience of COVID-19.

3. The majority of the senior leadership (board and staff) of the applicant organization must reflect the background, identity and/or experiences of the people their organization serves.

4. Applicant organizations must be willing to actively participate in a granting circle to determine the priorities and allocation of the available funds. This is a commitment of time and energy as participants will need to read and consider applications from other organizations, listen to other participants, and discuss and decide on options for the allocation of funds.


Invitations to Participate (This information is for reference only as it applies to the 2021 intake)

Each Expression of Interest will be carefully screened in relation to the eligibility criteria.

Qualifying applicants will be invited to participate in a granting circle which will require attendance at a minimum of two online meetings.

The first meeting will be held on the morning of September 17th.

Applications (2021)

A short application will be required from participants in the granting circle. Answers from the Expressions of Interest will be carried forward, and new questions, as agreed on by the participants will be added in September.

Deadlines and assessment criteria will be decided by the participants of the granting circle.

At least one meeting will be held online to discuss the applications at a date to be agreed by the participants in early October.

Recommendations made by the granting circle will go the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation later in October, with grants being made in November.

How to Apply (2021)

Applications are only accepted through the Foundation’s online portal. If you do not already have an account, you can set up your login here.

If organizations meet all the criteria above, please log-in to the portal and complete an Expression of Interest. The questions are available in pdf format.

There will be an information session for those interested in applying on August 18th at 10:30 am. Please register and join through this link.

Expressions of Interest must be submitted by 5 pm on September 10th.

Answers provided in the Expression of Interest may be shared with other applicants, the Foundation’s board, donors and the broader community.

Click here to view our FAQ.


Jennifer DeBues |

Co-Executive Director

Have Questions? Get in Touch!