The 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding Call for Applications: Application Guide

Table of contents

Section A – Application Guidance

1. Introduction

The 50 – 30 Challenge (the Challenge) is a call to action for businesses, corporations, not-for-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions across Canada to increase the diversity of their senior leadership. The 50 – 30 Challenge asks participating organizations to commit to achieving:

  • Gender parity (50% women) on boards and in senior management, and;
  • Significant representation (30%) on boards and in senior management of other equity-seeking groups, specifically: racialized persons including Black Canadians, persons living with disabilities (including invisible and episodic disabilities), people who identify as LGBTQ2, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Businesses, organizations and institutions who have signed on to the Challenge (Challenge Participants) will be offered resources to help them reach their objectives. The Government of Canada is providing this support through a What Works Toolkit (the Toolkit) and through 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding.

Through a separate Request for Proposals (RFPs), the Toolkit is under development to provide Challenge Participants with best practices, guidance, and other supports to help realize their commitment. The recipient who is awarded the RFP will be referred to as the Toolkit Administrator.

The Government of Canada is issuing this Call for Applications for the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding to provide funds to interested applicants whose role will be to support the 50 – 30 Challenge Participants. Successful applicants will be referred to as Ecosystem Partners and will support the Challenge Participants by:

  • Linking Challenge Participants to best practices for hiring a diverse workforce and creating inclusive and equitable workplaces;
  • Providing guidance to Challenge Participants on the development of diversity and inclusion action plans; and
  • Promoting the What Works Toolkit and other supports to assist Challenge Participants in meeting the Challenge objectives.

Through the Call for Applications, the Government of Canada will select successful applicants (Ecosystem Partners) to implement ongoing support services and guidance to Challenge Participants and amplify the Toolkit across their networks.

Successful proposals under this Call for Applications will be awarded a three year, non-repayable Contribution Agreement (CA) with a minimum value of $3M and a maximum value of $10M.

It is important to read this guide to clearly understand the objectives of the 50 – 30 Challenge and determine if your organization is eligible to receive funding. The guide provides information on what to include in your proposal, how to complete and submit your application, and describes the criteria that will be used to assess it.

2. Objective and expected results


The overarching objective of the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding is to provide program supports to businesses, organizations and institutions who have pledged to increase the diversity of their boards and senior leadership to highlight the benefits of giving all Canadians a seat at the table. By signing on to the 50-30 Challenge, companies and organizations are committing to achieving gender parity (50% women) and 30% representation of other equity-seeking groups, specifically: racialized groups including Black Canadians, persons living with disabilities, Canadians who identify as LGTBQ2, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

The Government of Canada recognizes that many existing diversity-serving organizations have worked for years in support of diversity and inclusion among Canadian organizations. The 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding will harness these strengths and encourage ecosystem supports by bridging their expertise with the growing group of 50 – 30 Challenge Participants.
To achieve this, the Government of Canada will award successful applicants (Ecosystem Partners) funding to offer advisory services to Challenge Participants across the country; the majority of which are small organizations (less than 100 employees). For a full list of Challenge Participants please refer to the 50 – 30 web site.

Applicants will demonstrate how their proposal will provide services and supports to all regions of the country and to all Challenge Participants, including small and medium-sized businesses, not-for-profit organizations, post-secondary institutions and charities. As the majority of Challenge Participants are small organizations, support under the Ecosystem Funding should be primarily targeted to these smaller organizations and businesses. Proposals must also detail the applicant's ability to deliver a range of supports and improve access for a minimum of three equity-seeking groups as listed below:

  • Women;
  • Racialized persons including Black Canadians;
  • Persons living with disabilities (including invisible or episodic);
  • People who identify as LGBTQ2; and
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

Expected Results

The 50 – 30 Challenge is expected to result in increased diversity in positions of influence within Canadian organizations, and the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding is expected to deliver funding to diversity-serving organizations to provide the resources for Challenge Participants to achieve that goal. This may include recommending tailored incremental goals, inclusive trainings, and the promotion of the Toolkit and similar resources.

Ecosystem Partners will work directly with Challenge Participants, and will also be expected to collaborate with the Toolkit Administrator and other Collaborators to achieve service coverage amongst diversity-serving groups. Proposals must demonstrate how the collaborating diversity-serving organizations will work together to deliver the proposed outcomes.

Section 5 details a full list of program activities below.

3. Deadline & timelines

Application forms can be found on the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding website. After completing the Application Form, please submit all required supporting documents by selecting the "Add Attachments" and "Submit" buttons directly in the form. When you are ready to submit the Application Form via the secure portal, please first print or save a copy for your records.

Your application must include all of the required information outlined in this guide to be considered in the next stage of the selection process. The deadline for submissions is July 19, 2021 (12:00 Pacific Time); any late submissions will not be considered.

Applications will be assessed following the closing of the Call for Applications. Decisions on funding are expected early Fall with the signing of the Contribution Agreements to follow.

Dates Milestone

June 7, 2021

Call for Applications launched.

July 19, 2021

Call for Applications period closed.

August / September 2021

Proposals reviewed.

Fall 2021

Decisions Anticipated/ Contribution Agreement negotiated/ Funding made available to Ecosystem Partners.

Section B – Eligibility and Application Process

Who can apply?

Eligible applicants include:

  • Canadian associations, not-for-profit organizations, and registered charities;
  • Non-governmental organizations and Canadian public institutions such as academic institutions, colleges and universities;
  • Organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, and band councils; and
  • Private sector organizations. (Applications from the private sector must demonstrate that the proposal will be delivered in alliance with one or several not-for-profit organization(s). In instances where a private sector organization is the lead applicant, a clear articulation of the alliance with not-for-profit organizations is required.)

Applicants may choose to form a legal consortium entity of multiple Canadian organizations, comprised of the above eligible groups.

Alternatively, the applicant can collaborate with other organizations ("Collaborators") in order to achieve national reach or serve a wider range of equity-seeking groups (e.g. a national not-for-profit leads a proposal in collaboration with regional groups, to meet project objectives).

Applicants must be in good financial standing, have a governance structure, staff and networks that make them ideal candidates to deliver the initiative. In the event of a new consortium entity, financial records and governance information will be required from the respective organizations who formed the entity.

Please note, only one organization can be designated as signatory for this application and any future agreements.

Federal departments, agencies and crown corporations are not eligible for funding under the program.

The Province of Quebec's M-30 legislation may apply to Québec based applicants. All Quebec based organizations must demonstrate their compliance with the Act prior to entering into a Contribution Agreement. For further information, consult the following website prior to submitting your Application for Funding: An Act respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif (M-30).

General Requirements:

Proposals must:

  • Reach all regions of the country;
  • Be three years in length (completed by March 31, 2024);
  • Be designed to improve access for at least 3 equity-seeking groups;*
  • Offer a range of supports to assist Challenge Participants in meeting their 50 – 30 objectives;
  • Have a minimum budget of $3M but not exceed $10M for the duration of the project;
  • Deliver services and products in both official languages; and
  • Provide two years of past financials (audited or review engagement).

*However, funding preference may be given to proposals that are inclusive of all five equity-seeking groups highlighted in the 50 – 30 Challenge.

5. Eligible activities:

Eligible activities undertaken by the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding are those that contribute to meeting the objective of the program. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Compilation, development, promotion, and delivery of learning materials, tools, training and workshops;
  • Promotion of the What Works Toolkit;
  • Mentorships and internships;
  • Skills development initiatives;
  • Network and partnership development;
  • Leadership and volunteerism initiatives including pilot projects;
  • Knowledge sharing initiatives;
  • Conferences, meetings, events, and workshops; and
  • Development of programs, policies, and services responsive to the objectives of the program.

6. Eligible costs:

Eligible costs include all costs incurred that are reasonable and necessary to carry out the project, that are allowable under the terms and conditions under the 50 – 30 Ecosystem Funding. Costs are eligible as of the date of the execution of the Contribution Agreement.

Eligible costs can include:

  • Costs associated with paying salaries, benefits directly related to the project;
  • Costs associated with procuring space or equipment necessary to carry out the project, including for workshops, events and meetings;
  • Costs associated with travel and accommodation for in person meetings, in line with the Government of Canada's Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures;
  • Costs associated with operations and maintenance necessary to carry out the project, including but not limited to translation, printing, evaluation, and audit and reporting;
  • Costs associated with making the material and resources obtained from third parties accessible to persons with disabilities and consultative costs of same;
  • Administrative expenditure required for project delivery such as: office material, telephone services, bookkeeping, workplace health and safety expenses; and
  • Professional fees directly related to the project.

The Government of Canada will not fund expenses incurred before the signing of a Contribution Agreement. If an organization incurs expenses for the project before receiving written confirmation of funding approval, the organization will be doing so at its own risk.

7. Ineligible costs:

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • The refinancing of an existing debt;
  • The purchase of any assets for more than the fair market value of the said asset;
  • Capital costs such as land and buildings; and
  • Costs of amortization and goodwill.

8. Assessment

An application will not be fully assessed unless all required documents are submitted and the application is deemed complete. The assessment will be based on information provided in the application.

Applications will be screened and assessed using the criteria outlined below.


  • The extent to which both the applicant and the proposal meet the funding eligibility criteria.



  • Expertise in inclusive practices for diverse population groups.


  • Experience in effectively managing projects of a similar size and scope;
  • Experience in financial administration and management of projects of similar size and scope;
  • Demonstration of organizational capacity to provide:
    • Outreach,
    • third-party training mentorship, and
    • best practices and guidance;
  • Demonstration of a sound governance model that reflects diversity practices; and
  • Strength of collaborations that will be leveraged to carry out the project.



  • Activities have a national reach (i.e. access to services, including in rural, remote and Northern regions throughout Canada) with a range of support applicable to all Challenge Participants;
  • Project ensures services and activities will be provided in both official languages; and
  • Activities benefit a minimum of three of the five equity-seeking groups. However preference may be given to applications who can support all five equity-seeking groups.


  • Activities clearly meet the requirements and will achieve the goals of the 50-30 challenge;
  • A detailed activity workplan with key project milestones is provided;
  • Proposed project activities effectively meet the objective of the 50-30 challenge and demonstrates how benefits will be achieved; and
  • The timing of project implementation, including risk mitigation tactics are feasible.


Section C – Application Form Instructions

The Application Form is a secure PDF and can only be opened in Microsoft Internet Explorer. However, if you use another browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox etc.) or you have problems opening the form, do not attempt to open the form in your browser.

How to download and open a PDF form.

To download and open a PDF form, you need to have Adobe Reader 10 or higher, or any alternative non-web based PDF viewer/reader installed (Please note that free versions of PDF viewers/readers are available). Mobile devices such as iPads, tablets and mobile phones can't be used for the 50 – 30 Challenge forms.

Downloading and opening PDF files

For PC users

  • Find the link of the file you want to save (you may need to go back to the previous page to find it).
  • Right-click the link.
  • Select "Save target as" or "Save link as".
  • Choose the location on your computer where you would like to save the file.
  • Select "Save".
  • Use Windows Explorer to get to the location where you saved the file.
  • Right click on the PDF file.
  • Select "Open with".
  • Select "Choose program".
  • Select "Adobe Acrobat Reader".
  • Make sure to check the box that says, "Always use this program to open these files".
  • Select "OK".

If you can't open the form with Adobe Reader 10 or higher or any alternative non-web based PDF viewer/reader, let us know about your technical issue.

Once the form is completed, attach the required additional documents and electronically submit by clicking on the "Submit" button at the bottom of the application form.

Please note the submission of the application form requires a PDF entry. The Government of Canada recognizes that PDF files have limited accessibility and are incompatible with some screen readers. If your organization requires another submission format, please email for assistance. Please ensure you are able to access the application form early in the process. Exceptions or extensions to the deadline will not be granted and assistance cannot be provided within the last 24 hours.

Organization Information:
This section should be completed by the applicant. You must make sure that all the information you provide is accurate.

Brief Overview of the Organization (maximum 500 characters):
Please provide a short description of your organization, or a description of the consortium if applicable, including the mandate and history.

Authorized Project Contact:
Please provide a primary and alternative project contact.

Project Information:

Project Name (maximum 200 characters): Provide a title for your project.

Brief Description of Project (maximum 1750 characters):
Briefly describe the main activities to be undertaken using 50 – 30 Ecosystem Funding, including the key collaborators associated with these activities, if applicable.

Estimated start and end dates: The start and end dates refer to when incurred project costs are estimated to start and stop. Projects should be three years in length. Applicants should submit a proposal with a target start date within the third quarter of 2021 (i.e., July to September 2021). Eligible project costs can only begin after the signing of a Contribution Agreement.

Address of physical location where the largest portion of the project will occur: Indicate where the main project work will be undertaken, if different than the applicant location.

Activities on federal land: From the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 section 2(1), federal landsmeans:

  • lands that belong to Her Majesty in right of Canada, or that Her Majesty in right of Canada has the power to dispose of, and all waters on and airspace above those lands, other than lands under the administration and control of the Commissioner of Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut;
  • the following lands and areas:
    • the internal waters of Canada, in any area of the sea not within a province,
    • the territorial sea of Canada, in any area of the sea not within a province,
    • the exclusive economic zone of Canada, and
    • the continental shelf of Canada; and
  • reserves, surrendered lands and any other lands that are set apart for the use and benefit of a band and that are subject to the Indian Act, and all waters on and airspace above those reserves or lands.

Project Funding Sources:
Provide any additional funding sources over the three year period, if applicable. To expand the number of rows use the "+" function.

Please ensure all requested attachments listed in the Application Form are included, and check boxes are selected. You can attach documents to your pdf application form, by clicking the add attachments button.

Please read and click "I agree" to certify the Application form.

Authorizing Official Contact Information:
Authorized Official is an individual who is authorized to legally sign on behalf of the organization.

Once completed, hit "submit". If you receive an error message, please review to ensure all sections have been filled out correctly and resubmit application.

Section D – Proposal Document Instructions

The following information should be provided in a maximum ten page Microsoft Word or PDF document. Please use the headings provided when responding to each of the seven (7) elements outlined below.

1. Organizational Capacity and Experience:

  • Describe your organization's (or consortiums) experience in managing and financially administering projects similar in size and scope;
  • Describe your organization's governance model and highlight any practices regarding organizational diversity; and
  • Outline the experience your organization/collaborators have in working with corporate Canada and with equity-seeking groups, including women, racialized groups including Black Canadians, persons living with disabilities, Canadians who identify as LGTBQ2, and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit.

2. Project Reach to ensure targeted support:

  • Describe your proposed outreach approach with 50 – 30 Challenge Participants under your support plan;
  • Explain how your project will be national in scope. (i.e. services accessible throughout Canada);
  • Explain how you will offer a range of support applicable to Challenge Participants;
  • Which equity-seeking groups are represented in your approach (minimum requirement of three); and
  • How will you ensure that the project activities and products are communicated in both official languages.

3. Project Objectives:

  • Provide a detailed description of the ecosystem supports you will provide, with overall short and long-term objectives and desired outcomes; and
  • Describe how your project will strengthen capacity among Challenge Participants to adopt inclusive practices.

4. Key Activities and Description of Activities:

  • Provide a detailed workplan and describe each activity you will undertake in this project;
  • Outline how each activity will support the overall objectives of the 50 – 30 Challenge; and
  • Include feasible milestones and timelines as well as who will be responsible for the work under each activity. If the application represents an alliance of organizations, plainly state each organization's responsibility for each milestone.

5. Risks and Mitigations:

  • Describe the main risks that could have an impact on your organization's ability to carry out the activities proposed or achieve project objectives; and
  • Indicate the probability (low, medium or high) and the mitigation strategies for each risk.

6. Key Collaborators:

  • Outline key Collaborators in the project, what their role will be and how their involvement will help achieve the goals of the proposal; and
  • Include a letter of support for each Collaborator as an attachment to this application. This letter must outline the expected contribution to the project, and how the organizations have collaborated in the past, including role, track record, experience and expertise.

7. Expected Outcomes:


Your application package must include the following:

  1. Proposal Paper;
  2. Annual financial statements for the past two years. Acceptable financial statement standards include:
    • audits; or
    • review engagements;
  3. Incorporation documentation;
  4. Project Budget;
  5. Letters of support (a letter of support is required from key collaborators (if applicable)); and
  6. Proof of compliance of M-30 legislation, where applicable (Quebec based organizations only).

Section E – Project Budget

As part of the application package, a detailed project budget is required. Please use this section as a guide to assist with its completion. Below are samples, but not limited to, potential costs for consideration. Please refer to eligible costs for further details. All requested costs must be linked to the funding proposal and to project activities.


  • Salaries
  • Employee Benefit Plan

Project Cost:

  • Administration
  • Advertising
  • Bank Charges
  • Equipment
  • Equipment Repairs and Maintenance
  • Events (Workshops, Conference, and Meetings)
  • Insurance (Fire, Theft, Liability)
  • Internet Fees
  • Membership Fees
  • Office Supplies
  • Post and Courier Fees
  • Printing
  • Rental fees / Lease payments
  • Signage
  • Telephone Fees
  • Training & Professional Development
  • Translation Fees
  • Travel and Accommodations
  • Website Fees

Professional Fees:

  • Legal Fees
  • Audit Fees
  • Consulting Fees

Below is a sample budget relating to the specific proposed project to be funded. Please use a similar approach and level of detail when attaching a project specific budget.

The provided sample budget may include, but is not limited to the following cost categories:

Cost Category Category Details Amount Requested ($) Detailed Budget Description
Salaries (by position):



1 FTE @ $XX @

Employee Benefit Plan (EBP)


# of FTE @ EBP %

Project Costs:

Office supplies








1 FTE @ $XX @ X # of nights

Professional fees:

Audit Fees



Consulting fees



Legal fees


- - - -

Total Project Budget requested




Other sources of Funding: The applicant must identify any other courses of funding for this project. The source could be public (other federal department, provincial government, municipal government, university, school board etc.) or private (including the Applicant's own contribution)

Source Details (if applicable) Cash ($) In-kind (dollar value)

The Government of Canada will not fund expenses incurred before the signing of a Contribution Agreement. If an organization incurs expenses for the project before receiving written confirmation of funding approval, the organization will be doing so at its own risk.

Appendix A: Glossary

50 – 30 Challenge:
A call to organizations to commit to two goals: gender parity ("50%") on Canadian board(s) and senior management; and significant representation ("30%") on Canadian board(s) and senior management of other equity-seeking groups, specifically: racialized persons including Black Canadians, persons living with disabilities (including invisible and episodic disabilities), people who identify as LGBTQ2, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding:
The funding to recipient organization, determined through the Call for Applications, to provide guidance for the Challenge Participants and to promote the challenge.
Activities are undertakings that are eligible for funding under the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding (see eligible activities) and required to complete a project.
An individual or entity that has applied for funding.
A set of documents submitted to the Government of Canada in order to participate in an application for funding process. For the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding, this includes the application form and all additional documents included in the "attachments" section of the form.
In the case of a proposed alliance delivering 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding, collaborators are the participating organizations in that alliance (see eligible applicant).
A group of separate organizations legally joining together to form a new entity to complete a project and work together toward achieving a common goal.
Contribution Agreement:
A written agreement between the successful applicant (who then becomes the Ecosystem Partner) and the Government of Canada. It includes the legally binding responsibilities and obligations of both parties.
Challenge Participants:
Canadian organizations who have chosen to take part in the 50 – 30 Challenge.
The totality of organizations that support businesses, corporations, and institutions both directly and indirectly. This includes business support organizations, federal, provincial/territorial and municipal government departments and agencies, financial institutions.
Ecosystem Partners:
Successful applicants who will receive funding to provide support services and guidance to Challenge Participants and amplify the Toolkit across their networks.
Eligible Applicant:
Applicants that meet the eligibility criteria to receive funding from the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding.
Eligible Costs:
The costs to which Initiative funding may be applied and which are established in the Contribution Agreement.
Equity-seeking groups:
Women, racialized persons including Black Canadians, persons living with disabilities (including invisible and episodic disabilities), people who identify as LGBTQ2, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
Ineligible Applicant:
Applicants that do not meet the eligibility criteria to receive funding from the 50 – 30 Challenge Ecosystem Funding.
Ineligible Costs:
Costs that are not eligible for reimbursement through the Initiative.
Non-Repayable Contribution Funding:
This initiative is a non-repayable contribution. In order to be reimbursed for expenses, costs must be incurred, eligible, related to work that is outlined in the approved budget and work plan, and fall within the start and end dates of the project.
The combined activities needed to accomplish your objectives and outcomes under this Initiative. A project is undertaken within specific time, cost and performance parameters.
An applicant that signs a Contribution Agreement with the Government of Canada and receives funding. Once an applicant signs the agreement, they become a Recipient.
What Works Toolkit:
The collection of resources (best practices, guidance, etc.), procured through a separate Request for Proposals, to support organizations who have signed on to the 50 – 30 Challenge.

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