Application guidelines 2019-2022 – Innovation Initiative

Sport Support Program

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Sport Canada is looking for organizations that are interested in testing new ways of working in sport, are committed to monitoring and measuring results, have an interest in collaborating with researchers and evaluators, and are willing to share the stories nationwide to improve sport participation experiences for Canadians.

Objectives and expected results for the Sport Support Program – Innovation Initiative

The Innovation Initiative is a subcomponent of the Sport Support Program (SSP) which supports the development of Canadian athletes and coaches. The SSP – Innovation Initiative provides funding to eligible organizations for the testing of innovative programming that supports the goalsFootnote 1 of the Canadian Sport Policy.

The SSP – Innovation Initiative enables the testing of innovative quality sport approaches, the trial of new programs, strategies, and technologies; in order to develop evidence-based solutions that can be shared nationwide.

The objectives of the SSP – Innovation Initiative are to:

  1. test new or adapted quality sport approaches (e.g. new programs, strategies and technologies) that align with one or more of the Canadian Sport Policy goals;
  2. evaluate and document successes and failures of the approach; and
  3. share results for nationwide use and implementation.

The expected result of the SSP – Innovation Initiative is to improve sport participation by piloting new or adapted quality sport approaches that contribute to one or more of the following specific outcomes:

  • increased accessibility to sport programs;
  • increased frequency, rates and retention of participation in sport;
  • reduced or eliminated barriers to participation in sport;
  • increased physical literacy; and
  • the achievement of social goals through the intentional use of sport.

Submission deadline

The submission deadline for concepts and proposals will be specified in the Call for Concepts and the Call for Proposals respectively.

For a submission to be eligible for consideration, the embedded sent date must be no later than 11:59 p.m. Pacific time of the date of the deadline.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding, the organization must be:

  • a federally or provincially incorporated not-for-profit organization;
  • have independently audited (if available) and board-approved financial statements for the past fiscal year; and
  • be undertaking a national initiative, a pilot leading to a national initiative or a component of a national program.

Provincial and national level organizations working with community organizations must submit documented support from the community with the proposal (such as a resolution or formal letter of support under signature of the proper governing authority).

Eligible projects

The SSP – Innovation Initiative seeks to support pilot projects with either a sport participation or sport for social development outcome. The sport activities employed in the pilot project must be consistent with the principles of quality sport. Eligible projects will pilot:

  • a new sport program;
  • a new sport for social development program;
  • an existing sport program for a new population or purpose; or
  • an adaptation of an existing sport program in order to align it with the principles of quality sport.

The Canadian Sport for Life - Long-Term Athlete Development Resource Paper provides a roadmap for developing quality sport programming. It represents a shift in the way that sport is lead and delivered by considering the mental, cognitive, emotional and physical development of an individual and outlining the key elements that need to be addressed when planning, developing and implementing sport programs. Using this resource, applicants can design and implement quality sport programs which have the potential to contribute to the objectives of the Canadian Sport Policy.

Project duration

Annual and multi-year pilot projects of up to three (3) years may be considered.

Participants in the pilot project

Participants in the proposed pilot project may be children, youth, adults, seniors, coaches, officials, program leaders, volunteers, etc. involved in sport or sport for social development purposes.

Other participants in a pilot project may include those supporting its design or delivery such as community members, teachers, coaches, parents, elders, and advisors or mentors.

Target populations will be specified in the Call for Concepts.

Eligible expenses

Ineligible expenditures include, but are not limited to:

  • capital costs; a tangible asset held for long-term use rather than for sale, such as building or land owned by the organization;
  • costs of sales;
  • fundraising;
  • medals, trophies and banquets; and
  • personal items.

Sport Canada cannot fund expenses incurred before receiving a submission of a concept or proposal. 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.

Sport Canada will fund only-project related expenses. Eligible expenditures include but are not limited to:

  • general administration;
  • salaries, fees and benefits;
  • operations and programming; and
  • research and evaluation.

General Administration

General administrative costs related to the management of an organization. Eligible expenses include:

  • general administrative costs;
  • general organizational, promotion and communication activities, including website; and
  • domestic meetings, including travel, meals, accommodation and facility rental.

Note: Administration costs include only the actual costs associated directly with administering the SSP – Innovation Initiative component and must not exceed 10% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs including, but not limited to:

  • clerical support;
  • office supplies;
  • the collection, maintenance, and reporting of data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting requirements; and
  • costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, use, disclosure, and disposal.

When a funding recipient further transfers, to a Third Party, funds that were received under this program, the 10% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to between the parties. The total administration costs retained by all parties must not exceed 10% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs.

Note: Travel expenses are to be claimed at actual cost, but cannot exceed Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's guidelines as specified in the National Joint Council's Travel Directive in effect at the time of travel. Expenses which exceed the rates set for in the Directive are ineligible and will not be paid.

Salaries, fees and benefits

Costs of employing or contracting part-time and full-time management and administrative staff. Eligible expenses include:

  • contracts and/or honoraria;
  • pro-rated salaries/wages, statutory deductions and benefits; and
  • staff professional development.

The SSP contribution towards staff salaries and expenses is limited to $90,000 per eligible full-time position. The contribution limit for part-time positions is pro-rated against this amount. Request for exceptions must be presented and approved in advance by Sport Canada.

Operations and programming

Costs related to the development and implementation of the sport programming.

  • contracts and/or honoraria;
  • equipment rental or purchase;
  • coaching/officiating/athlete development program content development and delivery;
  • resource design, printing and distribution;
  • translation services for web content, promotional material and activities, social media, communication and documents related to the pilot project; and
  • travel, meals, accommodation, facility rental for program delivery or development opportunities.

All uniforms and equipment for the pilot project and sporting and office equipment must remain the property of the funded organization.

Research and evaluation

Costs related to the evaluation and documentation of successes and failures of the quality sport approach.

  • contracts and/or honoraria;
  • data development and management; and
  • evaluation and reporting.

Eligibility criteria

Sport Canada is responsible for determining the eligibility of each applicant, its project and project-related expenses.

Meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee funding.

Limits of government assistance

To ensure the success of the project, Sport Canada encourages applicant organizations to have other funding sources. This may include contributions from the applicant organization, the private sector or other levels of government.

The total financial assistance received from the SSP -Innovation Initiative and other levels of government (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) cannot exceed 100% of total project-related costs.

How to apply

Read the Call for Concepts and the Innovation Program Guidelines in their entirety before beginning.

Call for Concepts

The development of a concept is the first stage in the application process.

The Call for Concepts is a way for organizations to tell Sport Canada what sport innovation idea it would like to test and what specific population(s) it will be working with. A Call for Concepts is how Sport Canada will identify ideas that have the potential for development into a full proposal.

Organizations must submit pilot concepts in Microsoft WORD or PDF to Sport Canada. Each pilot concept must be no more than 1500 words (i.e. 3 pages), use the headings below and include a brief description of:

  1. Applicant information
    1. Organization name, address and contact details
    2. Primary / Secondary contacts and titles;
  2. Project Title;
  3. The sport-related problem;
  4. The hypothesis that will be tested to address the problem;
  5. The specific population(s) the organization will be working with;
  6. The pilot concept and the expected results;
  7. How the pilot will be evaluated;
  8. The names of other organizations (if any) involved in the delivery and evaluation of the pilot project; and
  9. The estimated, overall costs associated with the implementation and evaluation of the pilot.

Organizations must demonstrate in the pilot concept how the sport activity clearly aligns with the principles of quality sport and the objectives and expected results of the SSP – Innovation Initiative.

Only pilot concepts which include all the information as requested above will be considered.

All pilot concepts are subject to screening and review. Not all organizations that respond to the Call for Concepts will be invited to submit a proposal for funding. Only organizations that meet the eligibility and concept assessment criteria will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Sport Canada will acknowledge receipt of a pilot concept within two (2) weeks.

Call for Proposals

If an organization's concept is selected by Sport Canada, it will be invited to submit a full proposal. All proposals will be assessed based on the evaluation criteria below and depending on the outcome of the assessment, funding will be allocated to successful applicants for full project implementation.

Organizations must submit project concepts in Microsoft WORD or PDF to Sport Canada. Each proposal must use the headings below and include a description of:

  1. Applicant information
    1. Organization name, address and contact details
    2. Primary / Secondary contacts and titles;
  2. Project Title;
  3. Problem to be addressed
    1. Current state of the sport-related problem
    2. Hypothesis
    3. Target population for the pilot
    4. Description of the pilot project activity and expected results
    5. Method for selection or identification of the participants
    6. Expected start / end dates for the pilot project;
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation
    1. Performance measurement data (i.e. indicators) to be collected and monitored to measure progress
    2. Methodology for measuring the impact of the pilot on the stated objective (e.g. baseline data comparison, pre-post surveys, interviews, sharing circle, etc.)
    3. If successful, the proposal for scaling up.
    4. Application for how learnings may be used to inform current or future approaches; and
  5. Risk and Financial Management
    1. Organizational experience and capacity to deliver the pilot project
    2. Human resources and risk management plan
    3. Letters of support and roles and responsibilities of all parties in the pilot project
    4. Budget including other sources of funding (if applicable).

Organizations must demonstrate in the proposal how the sport activity clearly aligns with the principles of quality sport and the objectives and expected results of the SSP – Innovation Initiative.

Only proposals which include all the information as requested above will be considered.

Sport Canada will acknowledge receipt of a proposal within two (2) weeks.

The Call for Proposals is a competitive process. Proposals are subject to screening and evaluation. Not all organizations that are invited to submit a proposal will receive funding.

If a proposal is accepted, additional information will be required to satisfy the requirements of Sport Canada's contribution agreement process.

How concepts and proposals are evaluated

Sport Canada funds projects that have clear objectives and measureable results. Funding decisions are based on the number and quality of concepts and proposals received for each SSP - Innovation Initiative deadline.

Applicants must demonstrate in the Call for Concepts and in the Call for Proposals (if invited to submit) how the sport activity clearly aligns with the principles of quality sport and the objectives and expected results of the SSP – Innovation Initiative.


Concepts will be screened for eligibility and then reviewed by Sport Canada which will provide recommendations to the Manager of Innovation. Concepts will be evaluated based on the criteria below:

  1. Organizational eligibility: The extent to which the organization meets the criteria for who can apply.
  2. Completeness: The extent to which information as requested in the Call for Concepts is included.
  3. Pilot eligibility: The extent to which the pilot concept aligns with the criteria for eligible projects.
  4. Soundness: The extent to which the project concept follows a clear sequence of ideas and logical arguments (i.e. is based on valid reasoning and judgement).
  5. Financial feasibility for Sport Canada: The extent to which the pilot project is financially feasible for Sport Canada.


Proposals will be reviewed by a Selection Committee which will provide recommendations to the Director General of Sport Canada. Proposals will be evaluated based on the criteria below:

  1. Problem to be addressed / Current state of the sport-related problem: The extent to which the sport-related issue to be addressed and the drivers leading to the pilot project are aligned with the SSP – Innovation Initiative Guidelines.
  2. Organizational capacity: The extent of the experience and capacity of the applicant organization (including consideration of its staff or volunteers), along with its delivery partners (if any) to manage the activities described within the proposal, achieve the desired results and complete the project in a timely manner. This component may involve consideration of previous contributions from the Government of Canada.
  3. Community engagement and commitment: The extent of and approach to community consultation for the implementation of the proposal and ongoing communications with affected parties throughout the project.
  4. Objectives, activities planned and expected results: The extent to which the proposal is connected to the SSP – Innovation Initiative objectives and expected results, aligned with quality sport, and consistency with eligible activities, expected results and projected expenses. The assessment process will consider program design, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and the degree to which the activities will result in the expected outcomes. This assessment also considers whether the budget demonstrates a realistic assessment of estimated total costs and justification of the level of funding requested.
  5. Project management: The extent to which the management of the pilot activities have been planned and articulated in the proposal (e.g. management of project scope, human resources, project monitoring, reporting and evaluation, risk management).

Organizations are highly encouraged to leverage resources by fostering partnerships and by demonstrating economies of scale. This may include collaborating with other organizations, academic institutions or agencies to undertake mutually beneficial activities.

A written response will be sent to applicants to confirm whether or not a proposal has been approved.

Funding decisions

Decisions regarding eligibility and funding amounts are final.

How funding is provided

Sport Canada provides funding in the form of a contribution.

A contribution is a conditional payment issued to an organization for a specific purpose, as outlined in the funding agreement. The funding agreement is signed by Sport Canada and the organization and specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment. At the end of the project, organizations must submit a final report.

Funding conditions

Organizations may be required to submit interim reports during the project. If an organization receives $250,000 or more as a contribution, it is required to submit an audit of the cost of the project.

If the organization receives support from Sport Canada, it must:

  • Agree not to enter into a sponsorship, promotional or other financial support arrangement with the tobacco products industry (as per the Federal Government Policy on Tobacco Sponsorship of National Sports Organizations).

Additional conditions will be included in the funding agreement.

Maximum program contribution

The maximum contribution amount is determined on a project-by-project basis and is limited overall by annual available funding.

Workplace well-being

The Government of Canada is strongly committed to promoting healthy workplaces where harassment, abuse and discrimination are not tolerated. Organizations that receive funding from Canadian Heritage must take measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

Official languages requirements

Sport Canada is committed to taking positive measures to enhance the vitality of official languages minority communities and to promote the use of English and French in Canadian society. If an organization receives funding, it agrees to comply with the official languages requirements set out in the application or funding agreement.

Acknowledgement of financial assistance

If an organization receives funding, it must publicly acknowledge – in English and in French – the financial support received from Sport Canada in all communications materials and promotional activities. Additional requirements may be included in the funding agreement.

For additional information, refer to the Guide on the public acknowledgement of financial support.

Access to information requests

Sport Canada is subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The information an organization submits in its application may be disclosed in accordance with these Acts.

Disclosure of information

By submitting a funding application, the organization authorises Sport Canada to disclose any information submitted with the application within the Government of Canada or to outside agencies for the following purposes:

  • To reach a decision;
  • To evaluate the results of the project; and,
  • To support transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Audits of recipients and evaluation of the Program

Sport Canada reserves the right to audit an organization's accounts and records to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the funding agreement. Sport Canada also conducts periodic Program evaluations, during which an organization may be required to present documentation.

Organizations must keep any records, documents, or other information that may be required to perform the audit or the evaluation for five year. Demonstrated failure to maintain such records may result in the repayment of amounts previously received.

Contact information

Sport Canada is available to answer questions and provide guidance to potential applicants related to the SSP – Innovation Initiative. Organizations considering a submission in response to the Call for Concepts are encouraged to connect with Sport Canada prior to beginning work on a submission.

Department of Canadian Heritage
Innovation Unit, Sport Canada
15 Eddy Street, 16th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0M5


1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)

1-888-997-3123 (toll-free)

Agents are available to answer your questions Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST).


Audited financial statements
A complete set of financial statements including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Audited financial statements are completed by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization. The certified accountant performs auditing activities in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards.
Final report
A final report is submitted at the end of the project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. The final report needs to provide the results of the activities the organization has undertaken for the duration of the project and include a final report of actual revenues and expenses.
Interim reports
Interim reports are submitted during the project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. The interim report will provide the results of the activities the organization has undertaken for a specific period, a report on the status of work to be accomplished and include updated revenue and expense reports.
Pilot project
A pilot project, also called a feasibility study or experimental trial, is a small-scale, time-limited experiment that helps an organization learn how a large-scale project might work in practice.
Quality sport
Quality sport is led by Qualified Coaches, is delivered in a Safe and Ethical manner, is administered by sport organizations who are aiming to achieve Organizational Excellence, is Inclusive and Accessible and is Developmentally Appropriate.
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