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Community Services Sector (CSS) Strategy Program Funding Stream Application Guidelines

This is an open call for proposals and all eligible organizations are welcome to apply. 

Note: Organizations currently receiving funding from United Way Toronto & York Region (United Way) under the following streams must re-apply under the Program Funding Stream: Toronto Member Agency, York Region Partner Agency, Success By 6®, Winter Relief, Transition Fund, and Youth Challenge Fund. Anchor-funded agencies are not eligible for Program Funding Stream. 

  1. Context
  2. What is CSS Program Funding Stream?
  3. Eligibility
  4. Application Process
    1. Pre-Screen
    2. Full Application
      1. Basic Organizational Requirements
      2. Program Information
  5. Summary of Dates
  6. Appeals

1. Context 

United Way is changing the way it is investing in community services. Our new funding model provides targeted streams of funding that support our vision for a region united by strong community services so that everyone has the opportunity to build a better life. For more background on our vision see United Way Toronto & York Region’s (United Way) Strategic Plan, Change Starts Here and for more information about other funding opportunities refer to ‘Agencies and Partners’ section on our website.

We have designed a new funding model that focuses and intensifies our investments towards this end while providing more flexibility to respond to changing conditions and needs. As part of this new investment framework, United Way is initiating an open-call for high quality programs through our Community Services Sector Program Stream. 

Our investments in this Program Funding Stream will be guided by three considerations:

  • a primary focus on people living in poverty and ensuring access to programs and services
  • geographic diversity
  • a diversity of issues and populations

2. What is CSS Program Funding Stream? 


United Way's CSS Program Stream Funding is intended to support a broad array of high quality programs, services and initiatives across the City of Toronto and York Region that reach and serve people who live in poverty or address the underlying causes of poverty through a systems approach.


The CSS Program Funding Stream will provide 3-year renewable funding for high-impact programs that align with United Way’s CSS Program Framework – 10 Focus Areas. Agencies may apply for 1 – 3 programs that align with categories of the Program Framework.

Allocation amounts

Funding will be available for programs not previously supported by United Way as well as to sustain programs currently funded by United Way. All agencies currently receiving Toronto Member Agency, York Region Partner Agency, Success By 6®, Winter Relief, Transition or Youth Challenge funding must re-apply for these programs through this grant process.

Opportunities for new applicants: Successful new applications should anticipate receiving grants in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 per program with larger amounts available only in exceptional cases. Agencies can allocate up to 20% of approved funding for administration costs.

Opportunities for currently funded agencies: Currently funded agencies may apply to sustain or re-direct the United Way funding they receive. Please note that it is unlikely that currently funded agencies will be approved for significant overall increases except in exceptional cases. Agencies can allocate up to 20% of approved funding for administration costs. 

3. Eligibility

This funding is open to all social service organizations with charitable status, as well as those that are incorporated non-profits trusteed by a charity. If an organization is being trusteed by another organization, note that the eligibility requirements outlined below apply to both the trustee and the trusteed organization.

United Way-funded programs will provide community services or address systems change. United Way funds may be used for staffing, operating, rent, or program costs.

Individual organizations or groups of organizations are eligible to apply for funding. A lead organization must be chosen on behalf of the group of agencies and this organization must complete the application. The lead applicant must consider the group application as one of its 3 eligible programs.

Organizations funded under the United Way’s CSS Anchor Funding Stream are not eligible for Program Funding. An anchor-funded agency may, however, serve as a trustee of an incorporated non-profit organization applying for funding under the CSS Program Funding Stream.

We do not fund individuals.

To be eligible for United Way’s CSS Program Stream funding, your organization must:

  • Be a registered charitable organization OR
  • Be an incorporated non-profit organization, trusteed by a registered charity
  • Have audited financial statements for at least 2 years (fiscal 2015 and 2016 years), or be trusteed by a charity that has audited financial statements for at least 2 years
  • Provide services in Toronto and/or York Region
  • Provide services to people living in, or at risk of, poverty
  • Provide social or community services 

United Way will not support the following (ineligible1 organizations):

  • For-profit organizations
  • Organizations that do not have charitable status or are not trusteed by a charitable organization
  • Government or government agencies, boards and/or commissions 
  • Hospitals and long-term-care facilities 
  • Universities, colleges and school boards
  • Organizations located outside the City of Toronto or York Region
  • Organizations whose purpose is solely related to political activity, as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Organizations without a clear demarcation between religious and community service as evidenced in the organization’s by-laws
  • Organizations that could be deemed discriminatory, as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Foundations
  • Unions
  • Professional Associations

United Way will not support the following (ineligible programs/activities):

  • Services mandated by the Child and Family Services Act, ( R.S.O. 1990, c. 11)
  • Residential facilities that are licensed and regulated under the Child and Family Services Act and funded by Ministry of Children and Youth Services or Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • Residential facilities that are funded or managed by Corrections Canada
  • Residential facilities under the Homes for Special Care Act
  • Licensed childcare programs
  • Programs currently funded through United Way’s Building Strong Neighbourhood Strategy and/or Youth Success Strategy

United Way program funds may not be used for (ineligible costs/activities):

  • Services provided by medical professionals or regulated health professionals other than social workers or social service workers
  • Services covered by OHIP
  • Rent supplements
  • The addition of basic shelter beds or transitional housing beds
  • Partisan political activity defined as the direct or indirect promotion of a political candidate or party
  • Loan or grant programs 
  • Capital construction costs, unless part of a specific project deemed eligible by United Way
  • The operational costs associated with United Way funded hubs since these will be eligible under the BSNS strategy
  • Religious activities

4. Application Process 

The selection of organizations to receive CSS Program Funding will take place in two steps: 

1) Pre-Screen

Organizations that are not currently receiving United Way funding will be asked to conduct an online self-assessment in our Grants Online (GO) system in order to determine if they meet United Way’s eligibility criteria and basic organizational requirements. Only those organizations that meet the basic criteria will be invited to submit a full application.

2) Full Application

The full application will consist of the following components:

i) Basic Organizational Requirements

Applicants will be assessed at the organizational level to ensure capacity to deliver the program and to ensure accountability for United Way funds. Organizational assessment will include:  

  • Governance
  • Human resources
  • Financial accountability

ii) Program Information

Each program proposal submitted for funding will be reviewed with the following considerations:

  • Alignment with United Way’s Program Framework
  • Compelling case of need or opportunity
  • Focus on poverty
  • Service access for people living in underserved geographic areas and/or equity seeking groups
  • Good program design
  • Demonstrated impact
  • Strong case for United Way investment

5. Summary of Dates

  • Pre-Screen opens:  by April 5, 2017
  • Pre-Screen self-assessment completion date:  May 1, 2017
  • Full Application due:  June 5, 2017
  • Funding Announcements:  Early 2018

6. Appeals

There are no appeals of Step 1: Self-Assessment. Appeals will be available for Step 2: Full Application in February 2018. 

1. Agencies listed as ineligible may partner in the delivery of a community service program or project, where a social service agency is the funding applicant