The call for proposals is now closed.
The Digital Literacy Exchange Program (DLEP) will invest $17.6 million to support initiatives aimed at teaching digital literacy skills to Canadians who face barriers to participating in the digital economy. The program aims to equip Canadians with the necessary skills to use computers, mobile devices and the Internet safely, securely and effectively.
The DLEP aligns with the Universal Access principle of Canada's Digital Charter to support all Canadians in fully embracing the digital economy. The program is part of a bundle of digital skills programs offered by the Government of Canada that seek to bridge the digital divide and help all Canadians access digital technology and develop the skills they need to use it.
The DLEP was launched in 2018, and in its first phase, it supported training of more than 400,000 participants from under-represented groups. Project funding for the second phase will be available from 2022–23 to 2024–25.
Why this is important
Innovation and technological progress are creating tremendous change, and as a result, digital skills are increasingly relevant—at school, at home and at work. This is true for Canadians of every age, background, education level and employment status.
While 91% of Canadians aged 15 and older use the Internet (Canadian Internet Use Survey 2018), there are still groups who are new to using the Internet or who haven't fully discovered the benefits of being online. These groups include seniors, individuals who have not completed high school, Indigenous people, individuals who do not speak English or French at home, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada and low-income individuals, and people living in northern, rural and remote communities.
Learning these skills and understanding digital technologies will not only reduce barriers to accessing valuable information and resources but also open up opportunities for all Canadians to succeed.
If you have any questions or require further assistance, please contact the Digital Literacy Exchange Program team.
- Telephone (toll-free in Canada):
- Telephone (Ottawa):
- TTY (for hearing-impaired):
- By email:
- Business hours:
- 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
- By mail:
- Digital Literacy Exchange Program
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street, 1st floor, West Tower Ottawa, ON K1A 0H5
The Digital Literacy Exchange Program is a contribution program that supports not-for-profit organizations in the development and delivery of fundamental digital literacy skills training to Canadians who would benefit from increased participation in the digital economy.
To qualify for funding, applicants are required to be a not-for-profit organization that is incorporated in Canada.
Your application must also clearly demonstrate that:
- Your organization has 3 years of experience in the delivery of digital literacy initiatives with a proven track record of success;
- Your proposed initiative will target underrepresented groups in the digital economy;
- The proposed initiative will be delivered at no cost to participants;
- With program funding, your organization will have the resource capacity and expertise, either internally or through partnerships, to successfully deliver the proposed initiative within the program timeframe and to measure and report on success;
- Your organization will provide a detailed project costs plan (Budget) for the proposed initiative.
While not essential requirements, merit criteria will be used to establish a priority ranking of eligible applicants. The following criteria will be taken into consideration:
- Organizational governance: the organization's history and structure – directors, memberships and experience, financial statements and forecasted financials for the project period;
- The alignment of the organization's mission, mandate, and/or purpose with the program's objectives;
- The representation that the organization is in good standing with regard to all federal, provincial, territorial and municipal laws and regulations;
- The organization's plan and capacity to deliver to underrepresented groups;
- The organization's capacity to undertake and successfully complete the project, including the qualifications of key individuals carrying out the proposed activities;
- Project workplan: the description of the proposed project, including location(s), work plan, eligible activities, schedule, project outcomes/results;
- Training plan – the proposed training program(s), the mode of delivery of training and intensity (basic and/or intermediate) are suitable for the intended audience;
- The organization's project contributors and/or partners, including their roles and resources in support of the project;
- The amount of any federal, provincial, territorial or municipal assistance received or likely to be received for the project;
- The identification and understanding of project risks and proposed mitigation measures;
- In the event that contributions are to be distributed by an eligible recipient to one or more ultimate recipients, the initial eligible recipient shall demonstrate that they have the appropriate resources, network and processes in place to receive, evaluate, approve and monitor applications that meet program objectives.
The total funding available for the program is $17.6 million. The level of funding provided by the program will be contingent upon the assessment of the proposal and the availability of program funds. The requested funding from ISED must be a minimum of $50,000 and shall not exceed $2 million.
Proposals may include funding from other levels of government, private sector or non-profit partners, however, total funding from all federal, provincial/territorial and municipal sources cannot exceed 100% of eligible project costs.
Frequently asked questions
About the program
Who does this program target?
The Digital Literacy Exchange Program will target Canadians who are newly involved with, or haven't fully discovered the benefits of, the current digital economy. These include:
- Persons with disabilities
- Indigenous people
- Individuals who do not speak English or French at home
- Individuals aged 65 or older
- Individuals who have not completed high school
- Individuals who have low-income
- Residents of rural and remote areasFootnote *
- Newcomers to Canada
- Individuals from Official Language Minority Communities
What is considered fundamental digital literacy training?
Fundamental digital literacy skills training includes training to develop the skills needed to use the Internet on computers and/or mobile devices and the knowledge required to use the Internet safely, securely and effectively. Some examples include:
- the ability to use computer programs such as word processors, web browsers, email, videoconferencing and other communication tools;
- the ability to access and use knowledge resources, such as search engines and online databases; and
- the ability to make secure transactions such as online purchases.
Where will the digital literacy skills training be offered?
Training will be delivered at pre-existing facilities, such as public libraries, refugee housing complexes, senior homes, community centres, schools, friendship centres, meeting halls or other facilities or locations in the community where groups could gather.
How many participants will benefit from the Digital Literacy Exchange program?
Over 100,000 participants will benefit from DLEP-funded initiatives by March 31, 2025.
Is this a permanent program?
No. The Digital Literacy Exchange Program will be providing funding over three years starting in 2022-23 to 2024-25. Project funding will be available through a national call-for-proposals.
About the application process
What is the deadline for submitting proposals?
All project applications need to be submitted to the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) by September 7, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
Will there be other opportunities to submit a proposal?
There is one application intake period planned at this time. Subject to available funding, other opportunities may be announced in the future.
When do projects need to be completed?
Approved projects must be completed by March 31st, 2025. Costs incurred after this date will not be eligible for reimbursement.
How will projects be selected for funding?
The Digital Literacy Exchange Program is a merit based competitive process. The Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will review applications against the program criteria.
What are the eligibility requirements?
In order to be considered eligible, the applicant needs to be a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Canada.
The funding proposal must clearly demonstrate that:
- the organization has 3 years of experience in the delivery of digital literacy initiatives with a proven track record of success;
- the proposed initiative will target underrepresented groups in the digital economy;
- the proposed initiative will be delivered at no cost to participants;
- with program funding, the organization will have the resource capacity and expertise, either internally or through partnerships, to successfully deliver the proposed initiative within the program timeframe and to measure and report on success; and
the organization has provided a detailed costs plan (budget) for the proposed initiative.
Are post-secondary institutions, schools, school boards and school districts eligible to receive funding?
While these organizations are not-for-profit organizations, for the purposes of the program they are not eligible to apply for funding as the main applicant. Post-secondary institutions, schools, school boards and school districts are encouraged to partner with eligible not-for-profit organizations who submit applications.
Are not-for-profit organizations that already provide digital literacy skills training eligible to receive funding?
Not-for-profit organizations that already deliver digital literacy skills training could apply to receive funding through the Digital Literacy Exchange Program to expand their programs across Canada, and/or to expand their target participant reach.
Can not-for-profit organizations partner together to apply for a joint project?
The Digital Literacy Exchange Program encourages not-for-profit organizations to work together to create strong partnerships with national reach. One not-for-profit organization must take the lead on the proposal and submit the application on behalf of all partners.
About the delivery of the program
Once the projects are selected, what will be the next steps?
Once projects are selected for funding, contribution agreements will be negotiated between the successful applicants and the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED). Once agreements are established, projects will be publicly announced.
How will the projects be monitored?
Similar to other contribution programs managed by the federal government, the Digital Literacy Exchange Program will have a project management framework with a number of control mechanisms (i.e., regular reporting) that will allow for tracking of project progress and funding throughout the project lifecycle.
About the funding
Is this a grant or a contribution program?
The Digital Literacy Exchange Program is a non-repayable contribution program where eligible costs are subject to performance conditions which are specified in a contribution agreement.
What costs are considered eligible?
Eligible costs are costs that are directly related to the approved project and which respect all conditions and limitations of the program. These costs will be outlined in the contribution agreement and include:
- costs associated with the delivery of digital literacy skills learning opportunities (e.g., program design, communication and outreach, rental of space, administration/overhead costs, domestic travel in accordance to the National Joint Council Directive, fees for instructors, etc.);
- administrative/overhead costs (up to 10% of eligible costs funded by ISED);Footnote *
- instructors' training and professional development expenses (up to 15% of eligible costs funded by ISED);
- costs associated with the purchase, rental or repair of technological equipment/materials (i.e. computers and tablets) required for the delivery of the learning opportunities (up to 20% of eligible costs funded by ISED);Footnote ** and
- incremental administration and accounting expenses.
What is the minimum and maximum amount of funding per application?
The requested funding must be a minimum of $50,000 and cannot exceed $2 million in overall ISED funding.
How will funding be disbursed?
Funding will be distributed through claims for reimbursement of eligible costs incurred as outlined in a contribution agreement.
What are the reporting requirements?
Selected recipients will be requested, throughout the duration of their contribution agreement, to submit data, schedules, plans, financial information, and reports deemed sufficient to assess the project's progress, carry out the post-completion monitoring, and evaluate the effectiveness of the contributions. These details will be outlined in the contribution agreement.