2023 Innovation Funding – Request for Proposals

Thanks to over 80 years of donor support, United Way Peterborough & District has a proud history of working with local social service agencies to transform our community. Working with our donors and our community, UWP seeks to change social conditions to create opportunities for a better life for individuals, families, and communities by making our community a better place to live for everyone.

This request for proposals is for one-time funding up to $75,000 to support projects taking place between April 1, 2023 and September 30, 2024.


Non-profit organizations play an important role in tackling the problems of a fast-changing society. Through its Innovation Fund, UWP seeks to support nonprofit innovators, whether small or large, to design and/or deliver new initiatives that meet the community priorities identified within this RFP. Projects funded through the Innovation Fund should be a pilot of a new idea or a research project designed to build a deeper understanding of community issues.

Innovation Fund Areas of Focus

In 2022, UWP embarked on a strategic process to define our priorities and identify actions we can take to address them. Our vision is that everyone in our community has the opportunity to reach their full potential, but we are learning that various groups face different barriers accessing this opportunity, including the programs and services intended to support them. UWP is inviting applicants to describe how their project will recognize, support, and celebrate equity-deserving groups in our community if that is aligned with the intended outcomes of the project. In the future, we will be formally prioritizing these initiatives by adding criteria to our funding review process to score the ways that projects are designed to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or reconciliation.

Our strategic reflection process reconfirmed our current focus areas: Poverty to Possibility and Strong Communities. For this year’s Innovation Funding we are seeking innovative approaches, pilot projects or research initiatives that will deepen our community understanding of one or both of these focus areas:

Poverty to Possibility

Poverty is the result of multiple, complex, and often overlapping social issues. Individuals experiencing poverty may be challenged to meet their basic needs, live independently, and engage in community activities. As a community, high or disproportionate levels of poverty can impact people’s sense of belonging, their feeling of safety, and their ability to access needed resources. Project areas of focus related to this priority include addressing Basic Needs and growing Life Skills.

Strong Communities

Strong communities provide the environment necessary for individuals to achieve their goals and create lasting change in their lives. Strong communities are built on individual and collective assets such as coping strategies and social connections. Developing these assets can help to nurture vibrant communities where every individual has the opportunity to experience personal safety and wellbeing. Project areas of focus related to this priority include providing Community Supports to build a sense of belonging and improve well-being.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applications are strongly encouraged from multi-sector/agency collaboratives and will be given priority consideration over single agency applications
  • The lead agency for the application is/will:
    • Provincially Incorporated, registered charity
    • Operate, and/or provide direct service, within the City and/or County of Peterborough
    • Have been in operation for a minimum of two (2) years
    • Undertake an annual financial audit and demonstrate sound financial management practices
    • Conduct an outcomes-based evaluation of the results of the project
  • Priority will be given to programs which demonstrate how the lessons learned through the innovation projects can be incorporated into existing organizational programs and structures
  • Funding requests that seek to support an existing initiative will not be considered
  • Funding is open to organizations currently funded or not funded by United Way Peterborough & District

Eligibility consideration for future rounds of Innovation Funding

  • Priority will be given to applications that demonstrate a strong connection to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or reconciliation progress in our community. Examples of this could include:
    • Organizations self-identifying as being led by members of equity-deserving groups
    • Demonstrating that input from people with lived experience has been incorporated in the design and/or implementation plans for the project
    • Outlining accessibility plans to reduce barriers to participation for the intended clients
    • Developing a project that addresses specific needs of a particular equity-deserving group
    • Conducting an evaluation/research project to better understand the needs of equity-deserving groups in our community

Process, Timelines & Evaluation Criteria


Interested organizations/collaboratives are encouraged to contact UWP to discuss their interest in applying for this funding prior to submitting a request for funding. Coaching and mentoring will be provided by UWP throughout the Innovation Fund process.


Applicants may choose any digital proposal format that allows them to best address the following criteria. Examples of digital proposal formats include a written proposal, video presentation (20-minute limit), or multimedia proposal that incorporates written components with media content embedded throughout.

Important Dates:

Proposals are due by 5PM on Friday, January 20th via email to Betsy Farrar. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered. All applicants will be notified about the status of our funding decisions by late March.

Evaluation Criteria:

Applications should address the following questions in their proposal. The percentages represent the weight each of the sections have on the scoring rubric.

Project Feasibility & Need (60%)

  • Explain how this project is innovative. What is the process or idea your organization/collaborative is testing or trying to better understand?
  • Clearly describe the program design including the deliverables that are expected to result from this project (e.g., new strategies, new information, new best practices).
  • Describe the intended outcomes of this project for individuals, your organization, the community and/or sector (e.g., increased quality of life for participants, organization better delivering on mission, development of an inter-agency framework).
  • Describe how the project aligns to or deepens the learning of the funding focuses outlined in this RFP.
  • Explain why your organization/collaborative is best suited to delivering the work of this project. What is the experience of the organization/collaborative in addressing this issue?
  • Include details of the collaboration required for project delivery and how partners will implement a shared-delivery model. Include any other partnerships, in-kind or financial, being
  • Identify a plan regarding the monitoring and evaluation of the innovation project to ensure the project is delivered on-time and is progressing towards the intended outcomes.
  • Outline implementation details including timelines and activities.

Financial Stability & Need (20%)

  • Provide a budget for this project that outlines a breakdown of the expenses that this funding would be used for, including a justification of why UWP funding is necessary for the success of this project.
  • Describe the budgeting and financial management processes used by the lead applicant that will ensure this project is delivered on-budget.

Evaluation & Monitoring (20%)

  • Identify a plan regarding the monitoring and evaluation of the innovation project to ensure the project is delivered on-time and is progressing towards the intended outcomes.
  • Outline implementation details including timelines and activities.

Special note for 2023: We are also administering the Community Services Recovery Fund on behalf of the Government of Canada. The RFP for the CSRF grant will be published on the CSRF and United Way Peterborough websites as of January 6th. We encourage applicants to refer to both RFPs to determine the most appropriate grant for their project. Applicants are welcome to submit proposals to both grants, but it is anticipated that the successful Innovation Fund recipient(s) will no longer be eligible for the CSRF due to a duplication of funding. Please do not hesitate to reach out for more information if you are planning to apply to both streams.

2022 Innovation Funding

Nourish – YWCA Peterborough Haliburton is the 2022 recipient of $65,685 in funding through the Innovation Fund for their pilot project “Peterborough Culinary  Collaborative:  A  Recipe for Success”


The Innovation Fund supports nonprofit innovators, whether small or large, in designing and delivering new initiatives that align with United Way Peterborough & District’s funding priorities Poverty to Possibility and Building Strong and Healthy Communities.

“After over two years of supporting individuals facing compounding barriers and increasing levels of urgent needs, this year’s Innovation Fund provided the opportunity for agencies to reimagine their roles in supporting the social recovery of our most vulnerable community members. We believe that supporting social service agencies in developing innovative approaches that address pressing social issues is key to an equitable recovery for our entire community.” 

 -Betsy Farrar, Manager of Community Impact

The Peterborough Culinary Collaborative: A Recipe for Success will provide learnings necessary to develop a full-scale training social enterprise for women facing barriers to employment.

The goal is to offer women who are already strong cooks but face barriers to employment the opportunity to enhance their cooking skills and gain employment readiness skills in order to access secure and meaningful jobs in the food industry.

In addition to training these women in culinary skills, training will also include employment skills such as communication, professional workplace expectations, employment rights, and health and safety.

“The old adage says that it takes a village to raise a child, but strong communities of support help all of us to flourish. That’s the premise at the heart of the Peterborough Culinary Collaborative. It brings together a vibrant and committed partnership designed to support women who are on the margins of the labour market with high quality employment training and customized support so that they gain access to sustainable and decent jobs within the local food industry.”

 – Joëlle Favreau, Nourish Manager, YWCA Peterborough Haliburton

This project consists of three components:

  • Culinary training for women facing barriers to employment to develop their cooking skills while learning how to prepare popular restaurant styles
  • Employment training on soft skills for workplace readiness such as communication and professional expectations
  • Mentorship opportunities between local businesswomen and the participants, as well as facilitation of connections with potential employers to gain advice on securing jobs in the

These will be developed and delivered in collaboration with a growing number of local agencies that have expressed interest in the project, including New Canadian Centre, Elizabeth Fry Society, Peterborough Public Health, Employment Planning & Counselling and more.

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