Community Economic Development (CED) Funds

The mission of the Community Economic Development (CED) Funds is to contribute to financial security for Canadians and their communities through community economic development. The Funds support community economic development initiatives that lead to job creation and/or enhanced employability for marginalized youth and persons with mental health issues. Since the Funds' inception in 1995, we have disbursed over $5.6 million through 308 grants.

2016 initiatives

The 2016 Spring round granted $360,000 to 16 organizations providing economic opportunities to marginalized youth and persons with mental health challenges, helping them build capacity for self-reliance.

In May, The Co-operators announced donations totalling $260,000 to seven organizations as part of its nation-wide effort to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada. The funding comes from a special one-time grant program announced in December 2016 that was created through The Co-operators Foundation’s Community Economic Development Funds to support initiatives aimed at preparing refugees for employability in Canada.  

Organization highlights

Learn about the organizations we funded in 2015 in our 2015 CED Annual Report.

Every year The Co-operators Foundation and Co-op TV engages with an organization that has received funding through the CED program, and produces a video that highlights the organization and the great work that they do. Our latest video is on Megaphone, who produces a magazine that is sold by homeless and low-income vendors on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria. It offers individuals an opportunity to work and earn some money in a flexible arrangement that is empathetic to their circumstances.

Application rounds

1) Spring 2017 funding round – applications will be handed out starting October 17, 2016.  Applications are due January 13, 2017 11:59 pm EST.  
2) Fall 2017 funding round – please check the website for application information after June 1, 2017

Eligibility criteria and application process

The Co-operators Foundation CED Funds focus exclusively on investing in organizations that support marginalized youth (aged 16 – 34) and/or persons with mental health issues, through employability skills programming.

To request an application, applicants must first submit an email answering the questions below:

1) Explain how your organization/programming focuses on marginalized youth (ages 16 – 34) and/or persons with mental health challenges (max 100 words)
2) Describe how your organization/programming focuses on job creation and the enhancement of employability through hands on training for youth (ages 16 – 34) and/or persons with mental health challenges (max 200 words)

Please submit your answers to

Application Guidelines

Proposals for funding are reviewed twice per year. Application deadlines are typically January 15 and September 1, before 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time). Note that if the deadline falls on a weekend or statutory holiday, applications must be received by the previous Friday, before 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time). Decisions are made in April and December respectively. To be considered for funding, your organization must:

– Have a specific program aimed at helping marginalized youth aged 16 - 34 and or persons with mental health challenges.

– Build capacity (community and organizational): The program should assist not only the individuals, but in doing so, also strengthen the organizations assisting them and the communities in which they live. The funding should also help the organization move toward becoming sustainable, through leveraging of new funding partnerships, diversification of funding sources, and careful financial planning.

– Provide evidence of strong community partnerships/funders that contribute both financially and in-kind (we are especially interested in any relationships that exist with the co-op sector and/or our advisors).

– Have access to appropriate technical, strategic and administrative assistance.

– Have a sound business and marketing plan showing how the organization plans to achieve its objectives.

– Have specific outcomes and measures of success: Upon the completion of the funding year, we ask for a status report relating the program activities/strategies to these success measures. Further funding, whether for a successive annual grant or a multiyear grant, is dependent on receipt of this report and satisfactory application of any key learnings.

– As an insurer, employer, investor, community partner, and a co-operative, The Co-operators believes that we can and must lead the way in ensuring a sustainable future. To us, sustainability is about balancing economic, social and environmental priorities as a responsible corporate citizen.  We are committed to develop our business in a sustainable manner, and encourage all organizations to do the same.  In addition to reviewing applications that can successfully demonstrate a commitment to community based economic and social sustainability, The Co-operators is interested in supporting organizations and initiatives that address environmental sustainability.  Preference may be given to organizations that can demonstrate commitment in all three areas of sustainability. 

Note: We do not fund more than 50% of the program or project budget and the maximum grant is $20,000. 

Projects not eligible for assistance:

– Capital expenditures
– Conferences, workshops, seminars
– Insurance
– Travel
– Fund-raising initiatives
– Deficit reduction
– Retroactive expenses
– Literacy programs
–Summer camps