Youth Skills Connections Program (community stream)

The program funds not-for-profits and public sector organizations to deliver collaborative projects that:

  • provide training and skills development to help vulnerable youth overcome barriers to employment (e.g., a criminal record, poverty)
  • address a demonstrated skills and labour shortage faced by industry
  • result in long-term employment opportunities for youth enrolled in the program

Focus areas

  1. partnerships (2 or more parties): collaboration among groups that want to improve the employability of vulnerable youth
  2. targeting the needs of vulnerable youth:
    1. helping young people facing multiple barriers to employment gain skills that meet business needs
    2. increasing the number of young people finding jobs
  3. industry participation: enlisting the support of industry to ensure that relevant skills are developed and participants become more employable

Program criteria

Projects must:

  • identify what employment barrier(s) will be addressed
  • state how it will use training and supports to address the barrier(s)
  • demonstrate the intent of employers to hire participants after they have finished training

Who is eligible

Eligible organizations include:

  • not-for-profit organizations with:
    • at least 3 years of operations (as of the application date)
    • a presence in Ontario
  • associations (professional, sector/industry, labour, community)
  • public post-secondary institutions
  • private career colleges
  • boards of education
  • municipalities
  • unions

You must be a primary project partner to apply. Not-for-profit applicants must provide proof of their status.

Grant amount

Up to $200,000 per project (depending on the project)

Larger projects or projects that address multiple communities could receive a larger amount.

Funding rules

  • applicants and/or partners must provide a minimum cash contribution of 10% of eligible project expenses
  • applicants that do not meet the minimum cash contribution may be considered with sufficient rationale
  • projects can combine contributions from the federal government, foundations and other sources
  • other Ontario provincial funding cannot be deemed as a contribution to a project; however, organizations receiving core operational provincial funding may apply

How to apply

The program uses a 2-phase application process:

  1. an Expression of Interest
  2. a full proposal

An applicant cannot submit a full proposal unless an Expression of Interest is submitted in the required format within the stated deadline.

Expression of Interest

You must submit a brief and compelling overview of the project, including:

  • youth target audience
  • implementation activities
  • partners
  • intended measures of success
  • cost of implementation

Based on this submission, Ministry staff will provide feedback to all applicants. This may be useful in developing a full proposal.

You will have access to an information session, before the submission deadline. You can participate via webinar and teleconference.

Application process

  • download the application form (PDF)
  • read the application guide
  • complete all sections of the Expression for Interest template
  • have a designate with appropriate authority sign the document

Full proposal

You will be invited to submit a full proposal, after we receive an Expression of Interest application and if the project is considered eligible.

In the proposal, you need to include more details about:

  • project activities
  • deliverables, targets and outcomes
  • budget, including additional project funding sources
  • confirmation of partnerships including partner contributions

Application process

  • download the application form (PDF)
  • read the application guide
  • complete all sections of the full proposal template

Where to submit an application

You can submit an Expression of Interest or full proposal:

  • by email
  • by mail to:
    Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
    Research, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Division
    Entrepreneurship Branch
    5th Floor
    Attention: Senior Policy Advisor (Youth Skills Connections Program – community stream)
    56 Wellesley St W
    Toronto ON  M7A 2E7

An application that does not follow the prescribed format, or is incomplete, will not be reviewed.

Additional materials other than those requested will not considered part of the application.

Application deadlines

Deadlines Date
Information session(s) October 23, 2013
Expression of Interest deadline November 4, 2013
Proposal deadline December 11, 2013
Successful applicants notified February 7, 2014
Project implementation February to March 2014

Selection process

Review process

Full proposals will be reviewed through a multi-phase process that involves inter-ministerial and youth representatives.

Selection criteria

All proposals will be reviewed, recommended and approved based on a clear outline of:

  • how the project will address the employment barrier(s) faced by the target youth and the impact of not addressing the issue
  • what training intervention will be provided or coordinated to address employment barriers (including experience-based learning)
  • the existing or planned partnerships that will implement the project (with industry participation and relevant partner contributions identified and confirmed)
  • the project’s outreach, marketing and recruitment plan for building awareness of the project among vulnerable youth
  • the job placements to be  provided by the project or of the long-term sustainable hiring commitments/intentions of participating employers
  • the application process for youth participants
  • the applicant’s organizational capacity to develop and implement the project
  • the project’s plan for risk management and effective responses
  • the project’s budget (which must have ‘value for money’)
  • the realistic and relevant outcomes of the project

The project will also be evaluated on:

  • the supports provided to facilitate youth success in the program (if applicable)
  • how clear the path will be for youth – from application to job placement/maintenance
  • how the project addresses government priorities

The Province reserves the right to give preference to projects that reflect regional equity and diversity in the ministry’s sole opinion.

Successful applicants

Proposals will be reviewed and decisions conveyed within 60 days.

Approved projects will sign a funding agreement with Ontario, setting out details of the project, including services to be delivered, milestones and expected outcomes.