You are here

Systems Change Grants

Applications Now Closed

[Update: September 21, 2020]

Earlier this year, we began a project to better understand systems change grantmaking and re-imagine ways to recognize and shift the power imbalances within it. The pandemic and the groundswell of the anti-racism movement has only amplified the urgency of dismantling oppressive structures and building just, equitable systems.

As part of this work, we are using this upcoming cycle to begin to explore how we can increase access to equity-denied groups who have faced barriers and challenges in accessing our Systems Change grantmaking program. This includes testing a handful of revisions to our Develop grant and Test and Scale (Stage 1) grants all with the aim to simplify. For full details on the changes, please see the Systems Change grant addendum.

As we move forward, we will be seeking out more feedback and sharing our findings. To sign up for email updates, click here

Systems Change Grants: Overview

Click to watch the video above, or visit:

Systems Change Grants support projects that take action to address the root causes of pressing social, environmental or cultural issues by influencing the behaviours of populations, organizations, and institutions. What does this mean? Systems thinking takes a step back and looks at the bigger picture. Systems change projects tackle the root causes of issues by disrupting the ways that systems work – sometimes this means challenging the way things have worked for generations. We also support work that benefits communities and populations as a whole. Why? Because we believe that this helps contribute to meaningful and lasting change.
In 2018, we commissioned an external evaluation of this grant program to better understand if and how it is contributing to creating the conditions for social innovation and systems change to develop, test and scale. Download the summary and full report to learn more.
Systems Change Grants fund charitable projects in and across any sector. In addition, some of our funding is to specific sectors: social services, children and youth services, health, vocational or technical training, education, arts and culture, environment, and animal welfare. But no matter the issue area, systems change projects must be led by a registered charity or other qualified donee listed by Canada Revenue Agency.
Are you working on a pressing social, environmental, or cultural issue affecting communities in BC? If so, then we’d love to receive your proposal.

Types of Grants

There are three different grant types available, depending upon the stage of your project.

1. Develop grants (up to $20,000, for up to one year)

Develop grants are short-term grants to help teams to unpack a complex issue and to identify the systemic behaviours that have created that issue, or that are holding the issue in place. Develop grants help teams to generate ideas for a project plan to influence or change these behaviours that can then be submitted to funders in the future. They offer up to $10,000 towards the project's process, and up to an additional $10,000 to support community's participation in the process. Develop grants are a one-stage application. 

2. Test grants (up to $100,000 per year, for up to three years)

Test grants are multi-year grants to help project teams test their influence on systems and to learn what leads to change. Test grants are a two-stage application. Applicants begin their application by completing the first stage of questions, and if successful, are then invited to complete the remaining questions.

3. Scale grants (up to $100,000 per year, for up to three years)

Scale grants are multi-year grants to help project teams extend the influence of an existing systems change project to a different scale within the system. Scale grants are a two-stage application. Applicants begin their application by completing the first stage of questions, and if successful, are then invited to complete the remaining questions.

Eligibility quiz

To help you understand if your organization and project meet our eligibility criteria, we’ve developed a quick and easy online quiz. 

Take the eligibility quiz now.


Our Systems Change Grants Guidelines are designed to give you the information you need to apply. The guidelines provide an overview of the program, eligibility criteria, an introduction to systems change and social innovation, practical questions to help you think about your project, and tips for making a successful grant application. Also familiarize yourself with the Systems Change Grant Addendum as a number of application questions outlined in the Guidelines have been revised.

Key dates

We appreciate your need to plan your time in advance to work on new proposals. The following key dates are updated throughout the year, so please check here regularly for updates on our granting cycle.

Note that applications close at 11:59pm PDT on the due date. Staff are available 8:30am - 4:30pm on weekdays to offer technical and other assistance.

Develop Grants

  • September 21 to October 16, 2020: Submit your application online
  • November 30, 2020: Decisions about application communicated via email

Test and Scale Grants

  • September 21, 2020: Stage 1 online application process opens
  • October 16, 2020: Deadline to complete the Stage 1 online application process
  • December 10, 2020: Decisions about Stage 1 Applications communicated via email
  • January 24, 2021: Deadline to complete the Stage 2 online application process (by invitation only)
  • April 9, 2021: Decisions on Test and Scale Grants communicated via email

Grant Alerts

Never miss another deadline. Sign up to receive updates about workshops, calls for proposals, and application deadlines.

How to Videos

Detailed instructions on how to use the online application system.