This spring we approved $2.3 million in grants from our Inclusive Local Economies program’s Opportunities Fund — the program’s largest disbursement of grants in one round.
The goal of the Opportunities Fund is to improve the economic livelihoods of low-income people through strategies that increase access to good jobs and improve low-wage work, reduce barriers for low-income entrepreneurs and alternative business models, and leverage the capacity of neighbourhoods and community assets.
The Granting Process & Timelines
The Opportunities Fund’s annual open call granting process started last fall and included the following milestones:
- We announced our call for proposals in September 2021 and held an information session webinar attended by 90 organizations.
- Adriana Beemans, our Inclusive Local Economics Program Director, met with over 50 nonprofit leaders to discuss their ideas prior to submission — a practice we highly encourage.
- We received 64 letters of interest to the Opportunities Fund, and after review, invited 27 organizations to submit full applications.
- Following our March 2022 grant review committee meeting with advisors, Metcalf’s Board of Directors approved our 19 grant recommendations.
Half of these grants represent new relationships to Metcalf. Several grantees are focused on neighbourhood and community economies. Afri-Can FoodBasket/Caribbean African Canadian Social Services are working with community stakeholders and the City of Toronto to foster a transformative agenda that facilitates coordinated action to achieve food sovereignty for Black communities in Toronto, deepening a culturally specific local economy. Cecil Community Centre is developing a strategy for its event venue to test how it can enable neighbourhood employment and local purchasing. Black Creek Community Farm/FoodShare will test the production of their own brand of farm products and explore their role as a community food incubator.
Another cluster of grantees are focused on improving the quality of low-wage work and creating access and opportunity to good jobs. Toronto Community Benefits Network/Labour Community Services will continue their work to support the establishment of a community benefits agreement for the Downsview redevelopment, and the Toronto Shelter Network/Toronto Hostels Training Centre will start the next phase of its Shelter Sector Pipeline Project, testing a training and support program for hiring shelter workers with lived experience of homelessness.
Centering the voice and leadership of workers and communities experiencing inequities is another priority in the Opportunities Fund. We are supporting a refugee-led nonprofit, Jumpstart Refugee Talent/Arab Community Centre of Toronto, to deepen employer relationships and hiring from its Refugee Talent Hub. Food couriers as part of Foodsters United Co-op/FoodShare will continue to develop its workers owned co-op delivery business, and Migrant Workers Alliance for Change/Ontario Employment and Education Resource Centre will continue their work to analyze the implications of the federal government’s temporary foreign worker pilots, based on care worker experiences to develop recommendations for policy improvements.
We also deepening our neighbourhood lens in our work, investing in a cluster of organizations in the Jane-Finch community to build relationships, learn more about neighbourhood priorities and opportunities, and support emerging strategies. We are working with Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, Jane/Finch Community Tennis Association, Black Creek Community Farm, Flaunt It Movement & Collection and the Jane-Finch Community Hub & Centre for the Arts organizing committee.
The 2023 call for proposals for the Opportunities Fund will take place in the fall of next year.