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Toronto’s Vital Signs Grants

This is an outstanding city.
But you don't just take.
You've got to build.

Fran Deacon

Wife of the late Fraser Deacon,
Founder of Toronto Foundation

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Toronto’s Vital Signs Grants

What are the priorities that keep community leaders up at night?
How can philanthropy help?

Toronto’s Vital Signs Grants aim to surface and support high-impact organizations and their visionary leaders working to tackle our city’s inequities.

By amplifying new voices and bridging new connections we aspire to accelerate meaningful change for all.




Toronto’s Vital Signs Grants recognize 25 Toronto community leaders and organizations for their visionary work tackling inequities in the city each year. Applicants are invited to read the recent Toronto’s Vital Signs Report and indicate why and how their organizations are responding to the issues and opportunities highlighted in the Report. To view the 2019 Toronto’s Vital Signs Report, please click here. The grant includes a one-time $10,000 unrestricted donation along with additional opportunities for profile and reach.

Toronto’s Vital Signs Grants will be open once per year and will serve as our annual intake for grant applications.



Compared to many cities around the world, Toronto’s overall quality of life is high. However, when we look beyond city-wide averages we see that the experience of life in the city varies significantly depending on who you are, where you live and how long you’ve been here. For example, people living on low income, Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, newcomers, and young people face significant barriers to accessing the same resources and opportunities that others enjoy. By highlighting these gaps in our Toronto’s Vital Signs Report and earmarking funding to directly support overlooked populations, we aim to work towards a Toronto where everyone can thrive.



Vital Signs tells us that inequality is the new normal. Dividing lines are growing. Widening gaps in income and wealth and neighbourhood disparities are re-shaping the city. We know that the solutions will only come if we welcome new voices and new perspectives to decision-making tables. Where we have traditionally only seen need, we know there is great strength and knowledge.

Ultimately, we aim to foster a more fair and just society where everyone can thrive by mobilizing those with resources and the will to partner with others. The new philanthropy focuses on co-creating a society that fights exclusion and marginalization, creates a sense of wellbeing and belonging, and promotes trust.



Toronto Foundation is part of the community philanthropy movement and is one of the 191 Community Foundations in Canada. We are the home for more than 500 funds that together provide support to close to 1,000 charitable organizations annually. Most of these grants are directed by our donors from their individual Funds. A small portion of our grants are steered by Foundation staff and board including the Vital Signs Grants. Many fundholders look to these grants for ideas and inspiration in allocating their own charitable dollars.



Vital Signs Grants recognize leadership and are designed to connect you with additional opportunities for new relationships and financial support. In addition to receiving a one-time, unrestricted $10,000 grant, Vital Signs Grant recipients will be introduced to the Foundation’s family of Fundholders and beyond. Grant benefits are highlighted below:

  • Inclusion in Toronto Foundation’s annual Good to Give Guide (a resource for giving distributed to all Fundholders and mass media). Previous editions of the Good to Give Guide can be found here.
  • Invitation to our Speed Dating for Changemakers event where community leaders and philanthropists meet to exchange stories, ideas, and plans
  • Social media shout outs and highlights
  • A potential site visit to your organization by staff and philanthropists
  • Your stories of impact shared through our communication channels
  • Potentially attending other networking events

Grants will be distributed in January 2020 and we will be following up in December 2020 to ask for a story and/or photo about the impact. 



Toronto’s Vital Signs Grants are awarded to community organizations addressing quality of life issues in Toronto.

Toronto Foundation is a public foundation. As a result, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) permits the Foundation to make grants or distributions only to registered charities or qualified donees. Click here to see what constitutes a qualified donee.



An applicant that is not a registered charity wishing to apply for funding from the Toronto Foundation may do so as part of a partnership with a registered charity. An agreement must be in place between the applicant and the charity that:

  • names both the organization and the charity they wish to partner with;
  • stipulates that the charity has responsibility for the administration of the funds and financial accountability, and
  • states that the applicant’s grant activities will be charitable, as permitted by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Please note: A signed agreement between the charity and the applicant must be included with the application, be signed by BOTH parties, and clearly stipulate that the partnership includes the parameters described above. There is a section for this on the application form.



This grants program is intended to surface the personal and professional reflections of senior leaders of community organizations. As a result, we are asking for the applying organization’s most senior leader to personally submit their answers to show their commitment to their vision.

Only one application per organization will be accepted for this grant stream.


Click Here to Access the Application


***Priority will be given to small- (operating budget <$500,000) and medium-sized (operating budget between $500,000-$10,000,000) organizations that are equity-led and equity-serving as well as Indigenous-led organizations. As a signatory to The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action, Toronto Foundation takes its commitment to Reconciliation seriously.

Equity acknowledges unequal starting places and addresses unequal needs, conditions, and positions of people and communities that are created by institutional and structural barriers. Equity is more than an outcome; it is an on-going process that seeks to correct systemic barriers and create a more just and fair society for all.

Equity serving organizations seek to eliminate systemic barriers to participation and facilitate access to opportunities, networks, resources, and supports to allow individuals to reach their full potential. 

Equity-led organizations have individuals within their leadership who have living experience of the issues they address in their work.



Your contact for this grant process will be Tyler Demers, Program Officer.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions: