Application for Funding - Guidelines 2020-2022

Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) Program Building tomorrow’s workforce

Summer 2019

Guidelines for submitting an application

The 2019 request for proposal (RFP) guidelines are intended to assist eligible recipients develop their proposals to the Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) Program for support in the fiscal period April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022. Perspective applicants are encouraged to read the guide in its entirety and to seek clarification from the program office if required.

The 2019 DS4Y competition is seeking to fund Delivery Organizations with a strong network of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and not-for-profit organizations (i.e. Employers) that can create employment opportunities for youth to build the digital skills needed for the evolving digital economy. The opportunities should be grounded in experiences that will prepare youth to adapt to the major changes projected in tomorrow’s workplace, including emerging areas where the jobs may not yet exist such as those related to cyber security, the automation of knowledge tasks, big data, and artificial intelligence, among others.

The Delivery Organizations will be responsible for the recruitment of the interns as well as matching them with high quality opportunities within the Employers in their network.

A. Introduction

The DS4Y Program was established to connect underemployed post-secondary graduate youth with SMBs and not-for-profits to apply and enhance their skills, and ultimately transition to career oriented employment in the evolving digital economy.

The labour market is poised to undergo major changes in the upcoming years, including the automation of knowledge tasks, robotics, big data, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence, among others. It is important to ensure that young Canadians have the opportunities to acquire relevant skills and work experience early on so that they can build a meaningful and rewarding career.

A recent report from the Royal Bank of Canada indicated that more than 25% of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by technology in the coming decade and that close to 50% of jobs will need a completely new set of skills. In light of this, DS4Y aims to offer young workers opportunities for them to gain digital skills that will enable them to thrive in a job market that continues to be disrupted by technological and global changes.

These Application Guidelines describe the funding priorities under this Call for Proposal as well as the process and requirements for submitting an application. Other supporting materials, such as Frequently Asked Questions are available online.

B. Objectives, expected results and outcomes

The DS4Y Program aims to provide opportunities for underemployed post-secondary graduates to combine valuable work experience with training related to digital skills through these internships so that they can successfully transition to the labour market.

DS4Y falls under the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS). The YESS offers a broad suite of programs that, together, aim to develop a skilled and diverse young labour force to support inclusive growth. Ultimately, the YESS aims to ensure that youth have access to programs that allow them to acquire the skills, learning experience and opportunities they need to find and maintain employment. DS4Y contributes to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy programming by supporting youth who are more or less job-ready but who may require a first employment experience through wage-subsidy opportunities, and skill development to enter and succeed in the labour market.

The program will contribute to increasing the employability of youth by equipping them with integrated digital and soft skills relevant to the evolving digital economy.

Key expected results include:

  • Youth will receive practical work experience and upskilling;
  • Youth will enhance their employability in the evolving digital workplace;
  • Small and Medium Businesses and not-for-profits will be supported and better positioned to succeed in the global knowledge-based economy; and
  • The Canadian workforce is the talented, skilled, creative and diverse.

This program also supports the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan (ISP), by ensuring that all Canadians have the opportunity to participate and thrive in the new digital economy.

C. Timelines

Applications will be assessed following the closing of the Call for Proposals. Ministerial decisions on funding are expected in March 2020, with signing of the Contribution Agreements to follow.

Dates Milestone
August, 2019 Request for Proposals Launched
September, 2019 Webinar for the preparation of the Application
October 1st, 2019 Notice of Intent
December 16, 2019 Proposal Submission
December 2019 to February 2020 Proposal Review
March 2020 Decisions Anticipated/ Contribution Agreement circulated.
April 2020 Funding Anticipated to Flow

D. Eligible participants

  1. Delivery Organizations

    Delivery Organizations are entities legally incorporated or registered in Canada and may include:

    • Not-for-profit organizations (including voluntary organizations, community organizations, public libraries and foundations)
    • Municipal governments
    • Indigenous organizations (including band councils, tribal councils and self-government entities)
    • For-profit organizations
    • Public health and educational institutions
    • Provincial and territorial governments, institutions, agencies and Crown Corporations

    Delivery Organizations must be in good financial standing, have a governance structure, staff and networks that make them good candidates to deliver the initiative.

  2. Interns

    To be eligible for DS4Y, interns must meet the following criteria:

    • post-secondary graduates, between 15 and 30 years of age at the start of the internship;
    • legally entitled to work in Canada (i.e. Canadian citizen, permanent Resident or person who has been granted refugee status); and,
    • self-assess as underemployed, meaning they are employed below their level of education and/or hold part-time employment.

    In the north, eligible participants may be youth between 15 to 30 (inclusive) years who:

    • self-assess as underemployed, meaning they are employed below their level of education and/or hold part-time employment; and,
    • are legally entitled to work in Canada (i.e. Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or persons who have been granted refugee status).
  3. Employers:

    The Employers are those organizations with legal status in Canada that have the capacity to offer internships including training and support. For the purpose of this program, Employers are not-for- profit and for-profit organizations with up to 500 employees.

    Employers must:

    • have the appropriate administrative support and capacity to train and mentor the participants to enhance and maximize the participants' experience; and,
    • support the participants in the development and implementation of work activities to provide participants with a meaningful internship described in the key performance indicators.

    The program intention is to have representation of not-for-profit and SMBs.

    For-profit organizations are eligible Employers, if the nature and intent of the activity is non- commercial, not intended to generate profit, and supports program priorities and objectives.

E. Eligibile activities

  1. Delivery Organizations – Eligible Activities include:
    1. Engaging Canadian youth in the development and enhancement of digital skills, including upskilling in cooperation with participants and Employers;
    2. Activities related to promoting the program and partner outreach;
    3. Acting as the coordinating body to manage a network of Employers for the purpose of providing them with program funding and oversight, monitoring and support, ensuring:
      • timely and accurate reporting;
      • internships aligned with DS4Y goals; and,
      • Employers that provide interns with the necessary equipment, workspace, workplace related training and mentoring to fulfill their internship duties and obligations.
    4. Developing and implementing an open, fair and transparent application process that is in accordance with their Contribution Agreement with ISED, to engage Employers and to ensure an optimal allocation of youth participants amongst them; and,
    5. Collaborating with training service providers that will deliver upskilling opportunities for participants when needed.

The Contribution Agreement between ISED and the Delivery Organization will set the minimum requirements between Delivery Organization and the Employers.

  1. Employers - Eligible Activities include:
    1. Activities that allow youth to acquire new and enhance existing digital skills and apply them in combination with soft skillsFootnote 1, so that they can successfully transition into the labour market.

    The duration of a work experience may vary to tailor the internship to the needs of the intern. The maximum duration for a participant is one year.

    Employers will sign contractual agreements with the Delivery Organization to receive funding in support of intern salaries and eligible expenditures.

F. Eligibile expenditures

Eligible expenditures are those incurred by the Eligible Applicant (i.e. Delivery Organization) and which are reasonable and required to carry out the eligible activities to deliver on the goals of the DS4Y Program. These include the following:

Internship Costs:

  • Up to $20,000 in wage subsidy and Mandatory Employment Related Costs (MERCS), with an Employer match at a minimum of 50% from for-profit organizations, and a minimum of 25% match for not-for-profit organizations, Indigenous organizations, municipal governments, public health and educational institutions, provincial and territorial governments, institutions, agencies and Crown Corporations.
  • Training costs up to $4,000 per intern, inclusive of taxes.
  • Participant costs (such as living expenses, dependent care, scholarships/bursaries, and accommodation)
  • Capital costs, including small repairs or renovations to support the participation of youth facing barriers. Capital costs for the construction of a building or the purchase of land or buildings are not eligible.

Administrative Costs (limited to a maximum of 15% of Federal contribution):

  • Overhead costs, including costs related to central administrative functions of the recipient organization that are drawn upon to support agreement activities (such as shared postage, telephones, IT maintenance and head office support).
  • The costs of materials and supplies
  • Staff wages, training and professional development costs.
  • Honoraria and hospitality costs.
  • Printing and communication costs.
  • Travel costs (need to be in accordance with the Travel Directive as developed by the National Joint Council, available at:
  • Professional fees (such as consultants, IT, technical expertise, facilitation, legal, research, audit, assessment and evaluation).

The funds distributed by the Delivery Organization to the Employers to carry out eligible project activities are also eligible expenditures.

Note: Administrative costs of Delivery Organizations will be limited to a maximum of 15% of the Federal contribution, as detailed in the costing memorandum of the Contribution Agreement. Delivery Organizations can request an exemption to the 15% cap with a valid rationale; for example, Delivery Organizations delivering initiatives in the North where administrative costs are significantly higher. In these cases, consideration will be given to cover administrative costs (e.g. overhead, travel, purchase of goods and services) to a maximum of 25% with a demonstrated proof of expenses.

In-Kind Contributions

In-kind contributions must be for goods, services, etc., that would otherwise be eligible under the program’s Terms and Conditions and if not contributed in kind would be purchased and paid for by the recipient.

G. Assessment of applications

An application will not be fully assessed until all required documents are submitted and the application is deemed complete. Incomplete applications may be rejected by ISED. The assessment will be based on information provided in the application. ISED may request additional documentation for assessment purposes.

Applications will be assessed against the following merit criteria:

Impact on youth and reach of the program:

  • The extent to which the Delivery Organizations can demonstrate that they have a strong network that can create employment opportunities that enable youth to build the digital skills needed for the evolving digital economy.
  • The extent to which the Delivery Organization will ensure equitable access to internship opportunities.
  • The breadth and quality of the internship opportunities for training a talent pool that is adaptable and representative of Canada’s society.

Strength of the Internship Plan:

  • The strength of the plan and its alignment with the objectives of the DS4Y Program.
  • The plan should clearly articulate how the Delivery Organization will ensure that youth have access to opportunities that allow them to acquire the digital skills, learning experiences and opportunities they need to find and maintain employment.
  • The plan should provide tactics for partnership engagement.

Track Record:

  • Applicant has demonstrated experience and capacity to deliver (with regard to past experience in similar initiatives, financial situation, human resource capacity, and governance structure).
  • The ability of the applicants to attract investment and partnerships to enhance program breadth and reach.
  • The ability of the applicant to support skill development and work experience.
  • Demonstration of a sound governance model that reflects best practice and takes into account diversity.

Strength of the Network:

  • Demonstration of support required for success, including a strong network of SMBs and not-for-profit organizations.
  • Demonstration that the organization has adequate reach to engage, recruit and connect the youth to the opportunities.

Merit criteria will be used to establish a priority ranking of eligible projects. Multiple recipients or a single recipient may be selected to deliver on DS4Y’s Program objectives across Canada.

H. Competition process:

The competition process has two stages. ISED requests that an intent to apply form be submitted electronically by October 1, 2019 for planning and administrative purposes. Phase II will consists of the Full Application that must be submitted by December 16th, 2019 for consideration. The full application will be evaluated and result in funding decisions.

PHASE I: Instructions for preparing the notice of intent

An indication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) is requested to ensure an efficient evaluation process of the applications.

This NOI will not be used for evaluation purposes. It will be used to aid with recruitment of assessors and administrative purposes.

The Notice of Intent submission includes:

  • I. NOI Form (Fillable 2-page PDF)

PHASE II: Instructions for preparing the full proposal

All parts of the proposal will be evaluated as outlined in the review process, and according to the assessment criteria listed above.
Applicants must clearly indicate how they help ISED deliver on its program objective to develop a skilled and diverse young labour force to support inclusive growth.
Application Requirements:

Applicants will be required to submit sufficient information to determine that they are eligible, as well as any information required to assess their eligibility and/or the proposed project against the program assessment criteria.

The complete application package has three components, including:

  • I. Full Application Form (Fillable PDF)
  • II. Proposal, including all sections listed below by using the headers listed. Please provide details for each section while respecting the maximum page limit (Maximum 10 free form pages, including a cover page). Once completed, the proposal must be transferred to a searchable PDF.
  • III. Appendices

I: Full application form

II : Proposal

Overview of the DS4Y Delivery Organization
Maximum 2 pages

The two-pager should provide an overview of the proposal that details:

  1. who are the potential Employers;
  2. how they will recruit youth;
  3. how they will connect youth and Employers; and,
  4. the quality of the opportunities and skill development they offer.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Maximum of 1 page

ISED will encourage in its Contribution Agreement that gender and diversity be considered in the administration and operation of this internship program.  Applicants will be required to demonstrate on an ongoing basis how its engagement activities, recruitment and selection criteria encourage diversity among intern program participants.

Applicants must explain their process of identifying, recruiting and selecting youth interns based on equity and diversity best practices.

Track Record and Capabilities
Maximum 2 pages

In this section, Applicants must demonstrate that they possess or can be reasonably expected to secure, the staffing resources to achieve objectives.

  • A description of the track record, including the pertinent experience and expertise of the organization in delivering specialized internship programs.
  • A description of the collaborations, and partnerships with the SMBs and not-for- profits that demonstrate the Applicant’s ability to connect youth with high quality placements.
  • A description of the available resources (e.g. personnel, facilities, equipment, technology, partners).

Internship Plan
Maximum 4 pages

Applicants should describe their vision and the specific objectives (and associated milestones) that are focused on achieving that vision. The DS4Y Program was established to contribute to developing a skilled and diverse young labour force in the evolving digital workplace that is poised to undergo major changes through automation, big data, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

The plan should describe how the Applicant will:

  • Connect underemployed post-graduate youth with small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits to apply and enhance their skills, and ultimately transition to career oriented employment in the evolving digital economy.
  • Develop a network of partners, including for-profit and not-for-profit organizations that are able to offer high quality internships to youth that will provide them with opportunities to acquire relevant or emerging skills and work experience early on so that they can build a meaningful and rewarding career in the evolving digital workplace.
  • Enhance the employability and marketability of youth of diverse backgrounds and genders through internships by providing them training that will develop their expertise and skill-set to actively participate in the digital economy;

III. Appendices:

A1: Letters of Support from a selection of participating Employers
A2: Financial Statements: 2 years of recent audited financial statements

J. Policies & considerations

  1. Conflict of interest policy framework

    Achieving the objectives of the DS4Y involves various types of interactions among stakeholders, some of which may place individuals in positions of potential, apparent or actual conflict of interest.

    The Applicant must adopt a code of conduct to prevent or manage real or perceived conflicts of interest.

  2. Official languages

    The Applicant is required to:

    • Ensure that any communication, announcements or documents for the general public concerning activities, projects, services and programs are provided in both official languages (English and French).
    • When delivering services, programs, projects or activities to the general public, to do so in both official languages, and provide services to official language minority communities, when appropriate, in such a manner that they may participate in these services on a basis comparable to the majority language community.
    • Ensure that consultations with stakeholders regarding activities, projects and programs encourage participation in both official languages, as well as representatives from official language minority communities when appropriate.
    • Implement any other measures that the ISED may identify including, without limitation, the inclusion of official languages provisions in the Recipient's agreements for further distribution of funding.

    In addition, Applicants should strive to communicate with individuals in the official language of their preference.

  3. Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act

    The Applicant is subject to the Federal Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

  4. Gender balance

    ISED will encourage in its Contribution Agreement the consideration of gender balance. Therefore, with respect to activities, the Applicants will be required to demonstrate on an ongoing basis how its internship selection criteria encourage inclusion and diversity.

    Prospective Applicants are encouraged to develop and propose activities that make their opportunities accessible to a wide variety of audiences (e.g., technology demonstration and training).

  5. Lobbying Act

    The Applicant must comply with the Lobbying Act throughout the application process and the life of any DS4Y-funded project. Prior to communicating with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada about an application please review the provisions of the Act. For more information on lobbying and the Lobbying Act, consult the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.

K. Monitoring, guidance and support

ISED officials will work with each successful Deliver Organizations for the negotiation of the Contribution Agreement, followed by ongoing monitoring and compliance.

As part of its administration, ISED will liaise with the Recipient on an ongoing basis including reviewing quarterly performance reports. Regular and frequent contact will facilitate the sharing of information between both parties to the Contribution Agreement.

L. Application submission and presentation standards

Submission Procedures

The NOI form is to be submitted electronically by no later than midnight October 1, 2019.

Complete applications, including all templates and annexes, are to be submitted electronically by no later than midnight December 16, 2019.

The application should be submitted as a single readable PDF that combines all of the required sections. The PDF cannot exceed 20 MB.

Presentation Standards

Page size: 8½ x 11 inches with margins: no less than ¾ of an inch on all sides
Font: Times New Roman (no smaller than 12 pts) or Arial (no smaller than 11 pts). If measured in characters per inch (cpi), it must be no more than 10 cpi. Condensed type is not acceptable.
Header: include the name of the Applicant at the top of every page All pages must be consecutively numbered
Graphs and illustrations may be included, but will count as part of the set page limits

M. Privacy and confidentiality

Any personal information collected by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, whether in print or electronic format, is protected under the Privacy Act.

Confidential information supplied to ISED will remain confidential to the extent that the applicant protects said confidential information.

“The Access to Information Act, (the “Act”) governs the protection and disclosure of information, confidential or otherwise, supplied to a federal government institution. This Act is a law of public order; as such the Government of Canada, including ISED, cannot contract out of it.

Paragraph 20(1) (b) of the Act states that:

“a government institution [such as ISED] shall refuse to disclose any record requested under the Act that contains financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party.”

Pursuant to Paragraph 20(1) (b) of the Act, ISED will protect the applicant’s confidential information supplied to ISED from disclosure if:

  • “the applicant’s information supplied to ISED contains financial, commercial, scientific or technical information”; and
  • “the applicant consistently treats such information in a confidential manner.”

Further, ISED will protect the applicant’s confidential information in its possession to the same extent as the applicant protects said confidential information in its own establishment: if the applicant chooses to send the proposal or other confidential information to ISED by e-mail, ISED will respond to the Proposal by e-mail. Similarly, if the applicant’s correspondence is through regular mail, ISED response will be in like manner. However, in all cases, ISED will use e-mail correspondence to the applicants for all non- confidential matters.

For more information on this subject, a careful reading of the entire section 20 of the Access to Information Act is greatly encouraged.” And it can be found at the following website.

The Application Form states that the applicant’s name, project partners’ names, project title, non-confidential overview, and amount awarded will be public information if the proposal is selected for funding. All other information is treated as confidential unless otherwise indicated by the applicant.