Funding: Community-Based Projects for Seniors

Community-based projects under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) that enable seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences with others, and help communities increase their capacity to address local issues, are eligible to receive up to $25,000 per year, per organization.

Projects must address one or more of the program's five objectives:

  1. promoting volunteerism among seniors and other generations;
  2. engaging seniors in the community through the mentoring of others;
  3. expanding awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse;
  4. supporting the social participation and inclusion of seniors; and
  5. providing capital assistance for new and existing community projects and/or programs for seniors.

Upcoming funding opportunities

Information on future calls for proposals will be posted as it becomes available.

Call for Proposals in Quebec

A Canada-Quebec Memorandum of Understanding for the New Horizons for Seniors Program sets out mechanisms for collaboration in order to ensure complementary action between the governments of Canada and Quebec to the benefit of seniors in Quebec. As a result of discussions under this Memorandum of Understanding, the two governments collaborate in the assessment of community projects.


The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) helps to ensure that seniors can benefit from, and contribute to, the quality of life in their communities through active living and participation in social activities.

NHSP’s community-based projects support local initiatives across Canada. They are inspired or led by seniors, volunteer-based and supported by their communities. NHSP reinforces that seniors are valuable assets to communities. By empowering seniors and encouraging them to share their knowledge, skills and experience with others, NHSP enhances seniors’ social well-being and community vitality.

The Program provides funding for projects that encourage seniors to play an important role in their communities by volunteering, participating in and leading community activities. The program also provides funds to help organizations make necessary modifications or repairs to their existing facilities, or to purchase/replace equipment and furnishings to enable programs and activities for seniors.

The age of a “senior” has been defined for various purposes from age 50 (e.g. Canadian Association of Retired Persons) to age 60 (the United Nations definition of older persons) to age 65 (Eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement). The understanding of the term “senior” is therefore contextual.

Eligible applicants

  • not-for-profit organizations;
    • Examples of not-for-profit organizations can be: churches or church associations, charities, activity clubs, volunteer organizations, professional associations, museums, or in some cases sports associations.
  • coalitions, networks and ad hoc committees;
  • municipal governments;
  • research organizations and institutes;
  • educational institutions (e.g. universities, colleges, CEGEPs, school boards/school districts);
    • Provincially/territorially funded institutions are eligible with the agreement of the provincial/territorial government.For this call, these institutions in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Quebec, and Saskatchewan are eligible.
  • public health and social service institutions;
    • Provincially/territorially funded institutions are eligible with the agreement of the provincial/territorial government.For this call, these institutions in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Quebec, and Saskatchewan are eligible.
  • Aboriginal organizations (including band councils, tribal councils and self-government entities);
  • for-profit enterprises.
    • For-profit enterprises may be eligible for funding provided that the nature and intent of the proposed activity is non-commercial, not intended to generate profit, and supports program objectives.

Organizations of the same name are eligible to submit applications in different communities, provinces and territories provided they have a separate board of directors and operate independently of one another. They are considered separate organizations under the funding.

Organizations are allowed to submit multiple applications; however, the total of all applications combined must not exceed $25,000, including applicable taxes per year, per organization. Otherwise, the organization will have to withdraw an application to respect the funding limit.

Ineligible applicants

  • individuals;
  • provincial/territorial departments and agencies;
  • post-secondary institutions, as well as social service and public health institutions, are ineligible without the agreement of the provincial or territorial government. For this call, institutions in British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Yukon were ineligible.

Eligible projects and activities

General project eligibility

Applicants are encouraged to work with other partners in their community to identify local needs and to design projects that respond to these needs. The NHSP seeks to fund programs or projects that:

  • benefit a broad clientele;
  • present an innovative and creative approach to address a community concern;
  • strive to have a lasting impact on communities;
  • involve collaboration and partnerships; and
  • use resources efficiently and effectively.

Funding is available for a project only once and cannot be renewed. If your project will be ongoing, you should consider what resources you will need in order to continue after NHSP funding ends.

Projects must:

  • be led or inspired by seniors. If inspired by seniors, they must be involved in the project’s development and/or implementation in a meaningful way. The role of seniors is a very important element when NHSP projects are being considered for funding.
  • occur within a 12-month (52-week) period. NHSP funding can only support projects that are completed within this time frame.

For those projects that primarily meet one of the first four program objectives, projects must:

  • involve programs or activities not already carried out by your organization*.
    • * This could include adding different activities, reaching out to a new client base such as isolated seniors, youth or recent immigrants, or adapting activities to meet the needs of a new community.

For those projects that primarily meet the fifth objective, projects must:

  • involve programs or activities not already carried out by your organization*; and/or
  • involve current programs or activities that are at risk of not continuing should the renovation and/or equipment purchase not be funded. These current programs or activities must also meet one of the first four program objectives.

Eligible projects

In order to be eligible, project activities must be led by seniors, or seniors must play a meaningful role in the project (planning and/or delivery). Activities eligible for funding can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • seniors developing approaches to encourage new and emerging cohorts of seniors to be more actively involved in community activities;
  • adopting approaches (policies and tools) to more effectively attract, recruit and retain diverse cohorts of volunteers, including other generations;
  • seniors sharing their knowledge, skills and experience with others;
  • promoting awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse;
  • seniors reaching out to vulnerable seniors such as those who are socially or geographically isolated;
  • volunteering, mentoring, leadership training and skill matching for seniors;
  • seniors’ intergenerational and intercultural learning and relationship building programs and activities;
  • seniors involved in developing / sharing tools and resource materials;
  • seniors sharing best practices;
  • equipment purchase or replacement for programs and activities for seniors, and
  • renovations and repairs to facilities for programs and activities for seniors.

Remember: When planning your project activities, your organization should look into whether or not they will need any special permits, insurance, waivers, or support from governing bodies, such as a Band Council Resolution or any other permissions required.

Ineligible projects and activities

The following activities are not eligible for community-based funding:

  • core or ongoing activities (activities regularly/normally carried out by the organization);
  • activities where the role of seniors is minimal or not clearly described;
  • projects to develop or deliver accredited primary, secondary, or post-secondary curricula;
  • fundraising activities, door prizes or gifts;
  • projects which provide a core health or social service to individuals (e.g, one-on-one service or training, projects that deal primarily with health interventions, including the creation of a meal delivery service to individuals); and
    • NHSP is not intended to fund projects which provide a core health or social service to individuals. Providing a service means offering activities which are designed to meet basic needs in areas such as health care, food or nutrition (including meal delivery types of services, and soup kitchen, etc.), shelter, personal transportation or income support which are generally the responsibility of other levels of government. Meal delivery programs are considered under social services as it is about delivering nutritious meals to individuals, helping them maintain their health and independence at home. However, these organizations could be eligible for a special project such as the development of a program to raise awareness for elder abuse or to develop a new way to recruit volunteers.
  • programs or services that fall within the responsibility of other levels of government.

Eligible project costs

Project costs must relate to the project and could include:

  • salaries, wages and mandatory employment-related costs for project staff;
    • Salaries, wages and mandatory employment-related costs for project staff must account for less than 25 percent of the total amount requested from the NHSP. This reflects the Program’s focus on volunteerism;
  • professional services (e.g., presenters, trainers, facilitators, researchers, etc.);
  • trades/construction contractors, installers, technicians, etc.;
  • evaluation costs (e.g., surveys to be distributed to participants at events);
  • honoraria and hospitality costs;
  • security checks for volunteers;
  • travel expenses within Canada, including transportation costs to assist seniors in participating in project activities;
    • Day trips could be eligible. These costs are reviewed on a case by case basis depending on the leadership of seniors, the purpose of the “visit” and its impact on the community. The trip needs to clearly respond to one of the first four program objectives such as:
      1. Volunteerism
      2. Mentoring
      3. Elder abuse awareness
      4. Social participation and inclusion
    • Here are examples of projects that could be acceptable:
      • Visit a Heritage Village where seniors mentor a youth group.
      • Seniors travel to another community to present a theater performance on elder abuse.
  • purchase of materials and supplies;
  • printing and distributing project materials;
  • rental and maintenance of equipment;
  • rental of space or other facilities;
  • utilities;
  • delivery/shipping costs for material and equipment;
  • dumping and disposal fees;
  • renovations or repairs;
  • capital costs required to undertake the project (e.g., equipment for participants, furnishings and fixtures); and
    • Capital assets are non-consumable single items or (a) grouping(s) of similar items that cost $1,000 (before applicable taxes) or more. For example, a group of similar items could be a public address system for seniors events, comprised of an amplifier ($600), two speakers ($150 apiece), a microphone ($150), stand and cables ($100), which equal $1,150 since they are a collection of items that are designed to function together. Non-consumable items are those that will continue to exist after the funding period ends, such as equipment, electronics, furniture and fixtures.
  • any applicable taxes.

Project costs will be assessed and certain items may not be accepted in funding applications.

Costs Limit:

  • A computer (including monitor), or a laptop, will be considered up to a maximum value of $750 (before applicable taxes). If your funding request exceeds this value, it will be reduced accordingly. For example, a laptop, and a computer with a monitor (i.e. two new computers) will be considered up to a maximum of $1,500. This does not include peripheral equipment such as scanners, printers, or computer software.

Ineligible costs

The following costs are not eligible for funding:

  • general operating costs of your organization that are not related to this project (i.e., regular telephone and heating costs, rent, utilities, property taxes, insurance, equipment for staff, audit costs, etc.);
    • Equipment for staff is not eligible under for-profit organizations. However, these costs could be considered eligible under not-for-profit organizations depending on the rationale provided for this need in the application (i.e. demonstrates a benefit to the organization and the community with a direct link to project activities).
  • costs incurred to prepare the application;
  • items of a personal/medical nature such as wheelchairs/scooters, CPR/First Aid equipment, automated blood pressure monitor, defribilator, Snoezelen room, hearing aids;
  • feasibility studies needed for physical work, including environmental assessments;
  • transportation to provide a personal service to seniors (e.g., that is not directly related to increasing the social inclusion of seniors, training senior drivers and implementing a senior's transportation program, projects that focus on transporting seniors to personal appointments);
  • project costs incurred before the agreement signed by the Department;
  • purchase of land or buildings, including new construction;
  • repairs or renovations to a building that your organization does not yet occupy;
  • decorating/beautification costs (i.e. painting or landscaping for esthetics);
  • cost over-runs (project costs that are higher in implementation than anticipated. The value of an NHSP community-based grant cannot be increased once it has been approved and signed by the Department. If costs are higher in implementation of the project than budgeted, it is the responsibility of the applicant organization to procure the missing funding to complete the project); and
    • The value of an NHSP community-based grant cannot be increased once it has been approved and signed by the Department. If costs are higher in implementation of the project than budgeted, it is the responsibility of the applicant organization to procure the missing funding to complete the project.
  • unexpected costs or contingency costs which are costs added to a project over and above the actual estimated project value to cover unexpected costs.

Note: The maximum funding available is $25,000 including applicable taxes per year, per organization. Projects cannot exceed one year, and funding cannot be renewed. Funding requests that exceed $25,000 will be screened-out.

After you apply

There are three phases in the application review process:


Applications postmarked by the application deadline are reviewed for eligibility by the Department to ensure they meet the Program’s eligibility criteria. Applications will be rejected at the screening phase for any of the following reasons:

  • The application is late (i.e., postmarked after the deadline);
  • The application is incomplete and/or not signed by the authorized representatives of the organization;
  • The required attachments are missing – for instance, you are missing:
    • at least one original letter or other original document demonstrating community support for your project; or
    • documents that confirm your organization’s legitimacy and governance; e.g. a tax related document that includes your organization’s business or registration number with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA);
  • The project does not meet any of the program objectives;
  • Proposed activities are your organization’s core, existing or on-going activities;
  • Proposed activities do not include a strong role for seniors in their planning and/or delivery; or
  • Budget costs exceed funding limits (i.e., single funding applications that exceed the $25,000 limit).


After the screening process is complete, eligible applications are reviewed and assessed in collaboration with the Regional Committee in your province or territory. Committee members include people active in seniors’ and community issues. The committees also normally include representation from federal and provincial or territorial governments. In Quebec, a Joint Management Committee, made up of representatives from the Quebec government and Employment and Social Development Canada, review and assess applications in accordance with the Canada-Quebec Memorandum of Understanding on the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

If irregularities have been found in relation to projects previously funded by the department, ESDC reserves the right to reject your application without assessing it until the irregularities have been remedied.

Applications are assessed on a number of criteria, including:

  • the strength of the community support for the project;
  • the anticipated positive impact on seniors and/or their communities (such as their strong role as leaders in their communities);
  • the project’s cost-effectiveness;
  • the potential for the activities to continue after the funding ends, if applicable;
  • other New Horizons for Seniors funded projects in the same community; and
  • the results of any of your organization’s projects that were previously funded by ESDC.

There is significant demand for funding for capital assistance, and more applications are received than can be funded. Therefore, funding is more likely to be awarded to organizations that clearly demonstrate a strong link between the proposed renovations or equipment replacement and activities that clearly meet at least one of the Program's other four objectives. Additional criteria may be considered during the assessment of proposals, such as the security or soundness of facilities or equipment that could compromise the safety of seniors.

In order to achieve the maximum possible impact for seniors and their communities, Regional Committees will consider the following types of elements when reviewing applications:

  • the degree to which projects engage seniors, including Aboriginal seniors, in project design and delivery;
  • the degree to which projects capitalize on seniors’ leadership and abilities, and facilitate seniors’ contributions to their communities;
  • the location of proposed activities and in particular those that target seniors living in rural and remote areas;
  • the number of seniors to be impacted as well as their diversity. For example, projects that include seniors of all ages, as well as ethno-cultural communities, Aboriginal communities, Francophone communities, seniors of all sexual orientations and seniors with disabilities;
  • the degree to which the projects reflect the cultural and linguistic sensitivities of the province or territory;
  • community groups that previously have not received grant funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program. Communities could be geographic, cultural, linguistic or religious in nature or could focus on new immigrants; and
  • a project’s lasting impact on, or enduring contribution to, a community.

Final decision

The regional committees make recommendations to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC); the Department makes the final decision.

You will be advised of the final decision by letter. You will receive a written decision from the Department in early 2016.

If approved, your application becomes a grant agreement.

Please note that funding decisions are final and that there is no appeal process.

New –Direct deposit is the preferred payment method by the Department and will become the only payment option in the future.

You can contact us at 1-800-277-9914 (press “0” to speak with an agent). We will put you in touch with the appropriate NHSP representative.


Acknowledgment letter

You will be notified by e-mail or by mail (only if you do not have an e-mail address) that we have received your application.

At the top of the acknowledgment letter, you will be provided with a project number which you need to use as reference in any future communication with the Department regarding this application.

Acknowledgment letters will be sent within 21 calendar days of the closing date of the Call. If you have not received an acknowledgement letter 5 weeks after the closing date of the Call, please Contact us at 1-800-277-9914 and press “0” to speak to an agent. We will put you in touch with the appropriate NHSP representative who can discuss your application.

You should not assume any commitment on the part of ESDC until funding has been approved and the Application for Funding/Agreement has been signed by a representative of ESDC. ESDC will notify you in writing of the outcome of the review of your application.

Progress Calls

For any changes that occur in your organization or your project after its approval, contact the NHSP representative indicated in your acknowledgement letter immediately (e.g. mailing or e-mail address, phone number, name of contact person, activities or delays).

Final Report

Funded organizations must submit a final report within 30 days of the project end date in their agreement and send it to the New Horizons for Seniors Program office in their province or territory. The final report template will be provided in the approval package notifying funded organizations of the Department’s decision.

Reporting on time shows good project management. Should your organization fail to submit a final report on time it may impact your organization’s ability to obtain funding from the Department in the future.

Disposal of Capital Assets

When the project ends, organizations may either keep the capital items that were bought with NHSP’s funding and use them for other community-related activities or donate them to other not-for-profit organizations in the community, provided that the Department agrees. Organizations may not keep these items for personal use. Should your project be approved, organizations will be asked to inform the Department of their plan for the disposal of capital assets.

In cases where the purchase of capital assets is only partially funded by NHSP, the various funders will need to agree on the method of disposal.