Applying for a Grant

2023 Vital Community Grants

Vital Community Grants are the Community Foundation’s small grants program open to a wide range of charities. These grants address immediate community needs, strengthen the non-profit sector, and help build a vital community for everyone.

 Over the past five years, Vital Community Grants have contributed nearly $480,000 to 57 different local charities.

 The Community Foundation is always looking for ways to address community needs, to shift power, and to improve our granting practices. That’s why Vital Community Grants look slightly different each year.

Area of Focus for 2023

The Community Foundation recognizes the ongoing and systemic barriers facing many in our community.  Vital Community Grants in 2023 will continue to prioritize applications from charities that work to advance equity in the community. 

While we are aware that there is a deep need for funding throughout all parts of the charitable sector in the community, Vital Community Grants will be further prioritized for organizations working on the top issues facing our community as identified through our own consultations and in alignment with the City of Peterborough’s Community Safety and Well-being Plan (CSWBP) of 2022.

> Housing and Homelessness

> Mental Health and Addictions

> Poverty

> Climate Change

> Belonging & Inclusion

Given the small size of the Vital Community Grants pool, the Foundation does not expect organizations to solve these issues single-handedly but we do want to support organizations working on these issues. The CSWB provides some examples suggested through a community survey:

> Fostering belonging and building community by offering peer mentorship, engaging volunteers, or addressing racism and discrimination;

> Raising awareness through ongoing community education, particularly in the areas of harm reduction, stigma, and systemic causes of poverty, mental health, homelessness and addictions;

> Supporting meaningful outreach and engagement, centring the voices of people with lived experience in decision-making;

> Creating and delivering inclusive and accessible programs and services with wrap-around supports and a focus on life stabilization.

Click here for the detailed grant call.

Participatory Grantmaking

Vital Community Grants are decided through a participatory grantmaking process; the privilege and responsibility for making decisions about the process and allocation of funds is shifted to those with deep knowledge of the needs of the people they serve in the community. 

Based on the principle of “nothing about us without us”, participatory grantmaking invites representatives of organizations who are most affected by an issue or cause to join a granting circle and share the work of grantmaking. For the Community Foundation, participatory grantmaking is an expression of our values of trust, inclusivity, collaboration, and community vitality. 

Size of Grant

Grant size varies from year to year. The average Vital Community Grant in 2022 was $7,900 with 17 grants awarded ranging from $1,000 to $13,000.


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

1. Organizations must be registered charities operating within and providing services to people in 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.

2. Organizations that are not qualified donees must contact the Community Foundation.

3. Applicant organizations must specifically work with and on behalf of people who face systemic barriers to inclusion and belonging (for instance, racialized people, people experiencing poverty, or people with disabilities). This focus must be reflected in the organization’s mission, purpose and programs. Applicants must demonstrate that they incorporate the experiences of the people served in their decision making processes.

4. Applicants 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 may need to read and consider applications from other organizations, listen to other participants, and discuss and decide on options for the allocation of funds.

5. Organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disabilities, age, status as a veteran, national origin, or any protected classes are not eligible for Vital Community Grants.

Click here for the detailed grant call.

Invitation to Participate

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

Qualifying applicants will be invited to participate in two online granting circles which will be held on Thursday, October 12

and Thursday, October 19.


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

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

How to Apply

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 the criteria above, please log-in to the portal and complete an Expression of Interest application. You can also read it here in PDF format: Expression of Interest – Vital Community Grants 2023

Expressions of Interest must be submitted by 5 pm on Monday, September 25.

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


Jennifer DeBues |

Executive Director

Have Questions? Get in Touch!