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Guide to applying for Ontario Victim Services Secretariat community grants

Archived Backgrounder

Guide to applying for Ontario Victim Services Secretariat community grants

Ministry of the Attorney General

The Ontario government is pleased to provide funding for the 2007-08 Community Grants Program. In our efforts to improve services to victims of crime, we continue to enhance aspects of the program to build upon the successes achieved in previous years.

This year's grant program will support projects that have durations of up to 12 months. 
Our priority focus will continue to be directed towards community initiatives that benefit: 

  • Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 
  • Victims of hate crimes. 
  • Child/youth victims, including those who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • Under-served and un-served victims. 

We will place a particular emphasis on those projects that meet the needs of victims in innovative ways and that address service gaps. 

We will also retain community involvement in the 2007-08 grant review and selection processes. We recognize that local citizens, who are selected as community reviewers throughout the province, are best able to assess local service gaps and victims' needs and to recommend innovative solutions to address them. In addition, we have added members from the Office for Victims of Crime to each Regional Review Committee. 

If your organization submitted a proposal under the 2006-07 program, and was unsuccessful, you are welcome to reapply. We would strongly encourage you to consult with your Ontario Victim Services Secretariat regional office for feedback on your last application and to determine whether some of the information you previously provided can be used for this year's process. 

About the Ontario Victim Services Secretariat

The Ontario Victim Services Secretariat (OVSS) provides leadership in victim services policy development, oversight for the Victims' Justice Fund (VJF), and a range of related support services. The Secretariat is part of the Ministry of the Attorney General, but it also works in partnership with other ministries and government agencies that provide, fund and/or co-ordinate services benefiting victims. 

The Secretariat's responsibilities include providing financial assistance to and/or managing a network of local and regional services that support victims of crime. 
These include sexual assault centres, community-based victim crisis assistance and referral services, a dedicated victim support telephone line, safety planning and wireless telephones for persons at risk of violence, and government-based victim/witness assistance programs to support individuals during the criminal court process. 

The VJF is a special purpose fund established in legislation (Victims' Bill of Rights, 1995). It is comprised of fine surcharges credited to the VJF under the Provincial Offences Act, as well as fine surcharges collected under the Criminal Code. The fund was instituted to assist victims of criminal offences and has been used to support both core victims programs as well as time-limited project grants to community agencies assisting victims. 

The current grants program is designed to fund projects that address gaps in existing service to victims, enhance service quality and accessibility, support community development, and undertake community education initiatives to increase awareness of victimization and victims' issues. This program is outlined in the pages that follow. 

OVSS Community Grants Program


The goals of the OVSS Community Grants Program in 2007-08 are to: 
1. meet the varying needs of diverse victims receiving frontline service; 
2. build capacity within groups and community-based organizations serving victims; and 
3. engage individuals and communities in victims' issues.

Specifically, we have designed the Program to support time-limited innovative projects in four broad categories. These are:

1. Service improvement initiatives that address gaps in existing service to victims and that enhance accessibility and service quality. Some examples include: 

  • undertaking a needs assessment/gap analysis for service to rural women or women in ethno/racial communities; 
  • developing racially and culturally competent counselling for victims of hate crime; and 
  • providing training and in-service approaches to street-involved youth victims. 
2. Projects that enhance an organization's capacity to manage, plan or provide services. Some examples include situations where the organization: 
  • implements a culturally appropriate, multi-disciplinary community care approach to serve Aboriginal victims of violence; 
  • works in partnership with a number of ethno-specific agencies to develop and implement volunteer recruitment/retention strategies to serve victims; and 
  • strengthens programming capacity/ quality of service through development of staff training programs on the specific needs of a particular victims' group. 
3. Initiatives that support community development. Some examples include: 
  • undertaking projects to support hate crimes victims and affected communities to respond to hate; and 
  • implementing a culturally appropriate, multi-disciplinary crisis care approach to support racially diverse victims of violence. 
4. Community education initiatives that increase awareness of victimization and victims' issues. Some examples include: 
  • organizing a community awareness campaign on internet luring of children/youth to prevent re-victimization and to offer counseling and/or support services to identified victims; and 
  • producing a video on victimization in remote communities.

Focus of Our Funding

As indicated previously, our funding will focus on community initiatives that target/benefit: 

  • Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 
  • Victims of hate crimes. 
  • Child/youth victims, including those who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation. 
  • Under-served and un-served victims.

The Projects We Will Fund

Short-Term, Time-Limited Projects 

We will provide funding for one-time projects that must be completed by March 31, 2008. We will not fund core, ongoing operating expenses or major capital costs relating to buildings, vehicles and other assets, or initiatives that require sustained funding. 

To be eligible for funding, these initiatives must: 

  • go beyond regular, ongoing service; 
  • have a discernible beginning and end point.

Victim-Focused Projects 
Some proposed projects, such as restorative justice initiatives, may involve both a victim and offender component. Where such a project otherwise meets our eligibility criteria, we will provide funding for the victim component only, and expect that the offender component is supported through other funding sources. 

We will provide funding for community education initiatives that help victims self-identify, disclose their victimization, and come forward for support and assistance. Since these victims are not known at the outset, such initiatives will also reach out to a broad, general audience. Thus, a secondary effect will involve the communication of useful, educational information to people who are not victims.

We will also provide funding for community education initiatives specifically directed towards the prevention of re-victimization. An example is a project focused on young people who have experienced date rape, but are unsure whether assault has occurred and are, therefore, at risk of further victimization. 

To be eligible for funding, initiatives must directly benefit victims of crime. While we will also fund projects that focus on research, or which involve needs assessments, you must clearly demonstrate how the outcomes will directly benefit victims.

We will similarly support projects that focus on ways to bring reluctant victims/witnesses into the justice system and initiatives requiring initial start up costs to develop a community's capacity to deliver services to victims. 

As well, we will consider funding initiatives where the victims are not solely individuals, but also communities, such as in the case of hate crimes. We will not, however, fund initiatives that are focused, more generally, on crime prevention, such as a public awareness campaign to provide information on home security.

While the grant program will focus principally on applications that benefit individual communities, we will also entertain proposals whose benefits extend beyond regional boundaries. Grants of this nature are important since they provide incentives for groups to work together, reduce situations where agencies "re-invent" the wheel and encourage the broader sharing of information. 

Your application must also demonstrate that your organization has the capacity to deliver projects of the type proposed on time and on budget. 
We will also favour projects that demonstrate innovative ways to deliver victim services. 

Who Can Apply

All interested incorporated, not-for-profit bodies are eligible applicants, including: 

  • community-based social and human service agencies and organizations, and related professional associations; 
  • victim service providers and victim advocacy organizations; 
  • First Nations, Aboriginal not-for-profit organizations and Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Charter Communities sponsored by the MNO Secretariat; 
  • police services and police service boards; 
  • schools, school boards, universities and colleges; 
  • health care facilities, agencies and associations; and 
  • municipalities.

Applications will not, however, be accepted from: 

  • individuals; 
  • for-profit organizations; and 
  • agencies of the provincial and federal governments or agencies partnering with the provincial or federal government.

In addition, applicant organizations must have been in existence for at least two years, be incorporated, have an audited financial statement and have a track record of providing quality service to their communities. Where an interested group does not meet one or more of the first three requirements, it may seek sponsorship from a qualifying organization. In that case, the latter organization would become the applicant. 

Similarly, where an organization is not able to provide the required documentation (e.g. proof of insurance or an audited financial statement), the OVSS would encourage the group to partner with an organization that can meet all of the eligibility requirements.

Where the project involves multiple partners, the applicant must clearly describe the role and responsibility of each partner. While we recognize projects may involve different levels of partnerships, where there is a significant program management and delivery role performed by key partners, the applicant must obtain letters of support from these partners. 

What Expenses We Will Fund

We will fund most proposed project expenses, including the purchase of necessary equipment and facility improvements that enhance effective delivery of victim services, as well as the costs associated with an evaluation of the project, but they are not to form the majority of the grant costs. Each project must include an evaluation component in order to demonstrate results. In this respect, an element of the funds requested must be directed to project evaluation.

We recognize that some time may be required to either purchase or enhance insurance to meet the requirements of the government. We strongly suggest that, as soon as you receive notification of your grant approval, you ensure that your insurance is appropriate and meets the guidelines set out in section 16 of the Terms and Conditions of the application. We will fund any additional insurance costs related to the project only if identified in the original funding submission.

What Expenses We Will Not Fund

  • expenses that are not directly related to the project; 
  • expenses that are not related to assisting victims of crime; 
  • costs related to preparing an application for funding; 
  • ongoing program or agency operating costs; 
  • major capital costs relating to such things as buildings and vehicles; 
  • the purchase of items of a personal nature; and 
  • debt reduction for the agency.

Funding Amounts and Duration

We will fund each project to a maximum of $75,000. The first instalment of the award (85% of the approved funding) will be released after the Letter of Approval has been sent. The remaining 15% of the approved allocation will be released after the OVSS receives a satisfactory Final Report confirming that all deliverables specified in the application form have been completed. 

How to Apply

Preparing the Proposal 
Have a clear idea of what you want to do, how your project will benefit victims, and why your organization is best suited to undertake it. 

Before you apply, we strongly encourage you to contact the OVSS regional office in your area to speak with a Regional Program Consultant. We want to give you as much assistance as possible before you begin or while you are developing your proposal. We are available to advise you about the eligibility of your organization and project, provide linkages to others doing similar work, and offer other supports. Page 16 provides a listing of OVSS regional offices and contact numbers.

Completing the Application 
Your proposal should provide enough information to enable the Regional Review Committee to assess your project. Be clear, concise and specific. 

Answer all of the questions following the order outlined. In your answers: 

  • Focus on results: 
Describe what you hope to achieve, how your project will make a difference and how it will be evaluated.

  • Make the links: 
Make sure all parts of your proposal - from goals to activities to budget - connect to each other (e.g. cost estimates are realistic and ineligible costs are not included). 

As a final check, ensure that your project: 

  • is a short-term, time-limited initiative; 
  • is victim-focused and emphasizes support to victims; and 
  • will be completed within a one year timeframe

Your Application Package 
Your completed application package must include: 
1. A completed application form with all questions answered, as applicable, related to: 
i. Applicant Profile. 
ii. Project Profile. 
iii. Project Budget and Expenses. 
iv. Schedule of Positions and Applicable Salaries. 
v. Other Sources of Funding/Contributions. 
vi. Statement by Applicant Organization. 
2. All attachments listed in Section D of the application form.

Note: Your application cannot be considered until all attachments have been received. 
If your organization submitted a proposal under the 2006-07 program, and was unsuccessful, you are welcome to reapply. We would strongly encourage you to consult with your Ontario Victim Services Secretariat regional office (refer to page 16) for feedback on your last application and to determine whether some of the information you previously provided can be used for this year's process. 

Remember that, where the project involves multiple partners, the applicant must clearly describe the role and responsibility of each partner. Where there is a significant program management and delivery role performed by key partners, the applicant must also obtain letters of support from these partners, outlining how they are prepared to support the project. 

Please follow these guidelines when finalizing your application and attachments. 
Applications should be typed. The printed Grant Application form is available from our regional offices. Page 16 provides a listing of OVSS regional offices and contact numbers. Alternatively, you may access the Ministry of the Attorney General website at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/vw/grants/ for copies of the application and guidelines. 

Do not bind submissions using cerlox binding, binders, or duo-tangs. 
Ensure that the application is signed by the Chair/President of your organization and by one other person with signing authority in the organization.

Send one copy and two (2) original signed copies of your complete application to the OVSS regional office in your area (refer to page 16). Submissions must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday February 15, 2007. Faxes and late proposals will not be accepted. 
If possible, we would also request that you e-mail a copy of your application directly to the OVSS regional office. 

For applications whose scope may extend beyond a particular region, send your application to the regional office in which your organization's office is located, clearly indicating that it falls within this category.

We are here to help. Please contact the OVSS Regional Office in your area regarding any questions you may have. 

Assessment Criteria

Your proposal will be reviewed to ensure that the activities and deliverables can be completed within the designated timeframe, and that the budget is reasonable and contains sufficient detail for the project. 

As well, the proposal will be assessed to ensure that the applicant's management and support structures are sufficient to meet the proposed objectives and that the applicant has demonstrated the ability to successfully complete similar projects in the past.

All applications will be evaluated on the basis of the following core assessment criteria: 

1. Meets the Program Priorities 
The project will make a significant contribution to one of the priorities of this grant program (i.e. under-served and un-served victims, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or hate crime and child/youth victims, including those who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation.

2. Addresses a Demonstrated Need 

The project will address a demonstrated need or gap in the community. If your project is for the development of a needs assessment, indicate why you believe it is necessary, and how it will directly benefit victims. 

3. Results in Clear, Direct Benefits 
The project plan is reasonable and will achieve the identified end result. The outcomes of the project will provide clear, direct benefits to victims of crime. 
For projects requesting training, demonstrate how that training will achieve direct benefits to victims.

4. Reveals Organizational Capacity to Deliver Project 
The applicant must demonstrate that it has the organizational capacity to deliver 
a project of the type submitted on time and on budget.

Application Review Process 

When an application arrives at the OVSS Regional Office, it will go through an extensive review process. The people involved and steps in the process are set out below.

Step 1 -- Receipt by Regional Program Consultant 
The Consultant will: 

  • review each application to ensure that it is complete and notify the applicant if it does not include all the necessary attachments; and 
  • screen the submission to ensure that the following eligibility requirements are met:
  • not for profit, incorporated agency; 
  • applicant organization has been in existence for at least two years; and 
  • applicant organization falls within the eligibility list found on page 7 of these guidelines. 

Step 2 -- Review by the Regional Review Committees 
One of six (6) Regional Review Committees, each comprised of OVSS regional staff, community participants and a member of the Office for Victims of Crime, will: 
  • Review eligible applications against the assessment criteria set out in these guidelines.
  • Identify the top applications in each region, as well as other meritorious applications that did not rank as highly as the first group. 
  • Based on the regional funding envelope, recommend to the Attorney General the grants that should be approved.

Step 3 - Funding Decisions 
A Central Review Committee, staffed by OVSS officials, will then review (1) those regional grants that, although meritorious, were not scored in the highest groupings by the regional committees, and (2) all grant applications whose benefits extend beyond a single region. 
The committee will then make a second group of funding recommendations to the Minister based on whether the identified applications (1) help to balance grant funding awarded to different victim groups or regions, (2) address gaps in service delivery, 
(3) constitute an innovative way to meet victims' needs and (4) provide benefits to sizeable range and/or number of victims. 

The Attorney General will then review all of recommended grants and make final decisions on which should be funded.

Step 4 - Notice 
Notification. Each applicant will receive written notification of the decision once it is made.

Next Steps for Successful Grant Recipients

Reporting Requirements 
Reporting is an important part of our grant process. It enables you and the Ministry of the Attorney General to: 

  • be accountable; 
  • learn from the work that is done; 
  • share your results with others; and 
  • understand the impact of Ministry funding on the community.

At project completion, all grant recipients are required to report on the project for which they received funding. A Regional Program Consultant will review your report to ensure that your Project met expectations. The kind of information we look for includes a summary of your activities, a financial report and a report on your achievements and results. We have also asked that you ensure your project is evaluated. 

Your grant payments and the assessment of future applications from your organization are tied to the submission of satisfactory reports. Be sure to submit your reports on time.

Keeping in Touch 
Your primary contact with the Ministry will be your Regional Program Consultant. We want to hear from you about anything that affects the grant. For example, we want to know if there has been a change in funding from other sources, if there has been a change in your timing, or if your project results are different from what was approved in your application. We can identify your responsibilities and our expectations when conditions change, and offer support throughout the duration of your project. 


Definition of Victim 
The definition of victim used in the community grants program is taken from the Victims' Bill of Rights, 1995. In this legislation, a victim is a person who, as a result of the commission of a Criminal Code offence by another, suffers emotional or physical harm, loss of or damage to property, or economic harm. If the offence results in the death of a person, that person's child(ren), parent(s), dependent(s), spouse and/or same-sex partner are also considered victims. Charges do not have to be laid for a person to be a victim. 
People can be considered victims regardless of whether they identify themselves as victims. In this grant program, we will consider applications for community education initiatives to increase awareness of victimization and victims' issues because these projects help victims to self-identify and encourage them to seek support and assistance.

Definition of Child/Youth
For the purposes of this grant run, we define child/youth as a person under 18 years of age (the age of majority).

Definition of Domestic Violence
For this grant program, we are using the definition of domestic violence developed by the Joint Committee on Domestic Violence. This definition describes domestic violence as:

... any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. Intimate relationships include those between opposite-sex and same-sex partners. These relationships vary in duration and legal formality, and include current and former dating, common-law and married couples.

Although both women and men can be victims of domestic violence, the overwhelming majority of this violence involves men abusing women.

These crimes are often committed in a context where there is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviour. This violence may include physical assault, and emotional, psychological and sexual abuse. It can include threats to harm children, other family members, pets and property. The violence is used to intimidate, humiliate or frighten victims, or to make them powerless. Domestic violence may include a single act of abuse. It may also include a number of acts, which may appear minor or trivial when viewed in isolation, but collectively form a pattern that amounts to abuse.

Criminal Code offences include, but are not limited to homicide, assault, sexual assault, threatening death or bodily harm, forcible confinement, harassment/stalking, abduction, breaches of court orders and property-related offences.

  • Working Towards a Seamless Community and 
  • Justice Response to Domestic Violence: A Five-Year Plan for Ontario
  • Joint Committee on Domestic Violence, August 1999

Definition of Hate Crime 
Hate crimes are Criminal Code offences involving hate, such as the spreading of hate propaganda against an identifiable group, or other crimes where hate is a motivating factor. In the case of R. v. Keegstra, the Supreme Court of Canada defined hatred as: 
emotion of an intense and extreme nature that is clearly associated with vilification and detestation. Hatred against identifiable groups thrives on insensitivity, bigotry and destruction of both the target group and of the values of our society. Hatred is an emotion that, if exercised against members of an identifiable group, implies that those individuals are to be despised, scorned, denied respect and made subject to ill-treatment on the basis of group affiliation. 

The Criminal Code imposes a criminal sanction against advocating or promoting genocide and wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group. It prohibits communicating statements in any public place that incite hatred against an identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, and prohibits the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group by communicating statements other than in private conversation. 
There are also Criminal Code offences that target hatred against an identifiable group, which may not involve hate propaganda. Such offences can range from mischief (e.g. defacing synagogues or mosques with anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim statements) to assaults and murder. 
Since 1995, the Criminal Code has provided for longer sentences for hate-motivated crimes. These relate to categories including bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor. 

For this grant program, the OVSS recognizes that hate propaganda and hate crime, whether prosecuted or not, can cause harm not only to the individuals and groups that are specifically targeted, but to the broader community as well. On this basis, we will consider applications for projects intended to assist communities by increasing awareness, making links with services or addressing service gaps. 

We also recognize that individual, criminal acts of hate take place within environments where bias and prejudice are systemic in nature. Projects that have reference to these underlying societal issues will also be considered for funding.

How to Contact Us

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat

Ministry of the Attorney General

18 King Street East, 7th Floor
Toronto ON   M5C 1C4
Telephone: 416 325-3265
TTY: 416 325-4935

Regional Offices

Central Region

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat
Ministry of the Attorney General
17070 Yonge Street, Lower Level
Newmarket ON   L3Y 8Z4
Telephone: 905 853-4852
E-mail address: OVSS.Central.Region@jus.gov.on.ca

Central-West Region

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat
Ministry of the Attorney General
119 King Street West, 4th Floor
Hamilton ON   L8P 4Y7
Telephone: 905 521-7590
E-mail address: OVSS.CentralWest.Region@jus.gov.on.ca

West Region

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat
Ministry of the Attorney General
900 Highbury Avenue
London ON   N5Y 1A4
Telephone: 519 453-8973
E-mail address: OVSS.West.Region@jus.gov.on.ca

East Region

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat
Ministry of the Attorney General
150 Metcalfe Street, 14th Floor
Ottawa ON   K2P 1P1
Telephone: 613 239-0392

Satellite Office (Kingston)
Telephone: 613 548-3370
E-mail address: OVSS.East.Region@jus.gov.on.ca

North Region

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat
Ministry of the Attorney General
159 Cedar Street, Suite 505
Sudbury ON   P3E 6A5
Telephone: 705 564-7370

Satellite Office (Thunder Bay)
Telephone: 807 343-7676

Satellite Office (Kenora)
Telephone: 807 468-2891
E-mail address: OVSS.North.Region@jus.gov.on.ca

Toronto Region

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat
Ministry of the Attorney General
700 Bay St. 3rd Floor
Toronto ON   M5G 1Z6
Telephone: 416 212-1310
E-mail address: OVSS.Toronto.Region@jus.gov.on.ca

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