Call for proposals: Capacity building for the private sponsorship of refugees – Funding guidelines

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Improving capacity for the private sponsorship of refugees in Canada

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is a cornerstone of Canada’s humanitarian tradition. Hallmarks of the program over its 40 year history include welcoming over 327,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) to Canada, fostering public engagement, strong communities, and positive refugee outcomes and narratives. The program enjoys broad support and is viewed as a key tool in Canada’s approach to protecting refugees. The program has seen significant growth in recent years, with admissions having quadrupled since 2011. The program now represents two-thirds of Canada’s annual resettled refugee admissions.

This growth has stretched the capacity of the communities in Canada that privately sponsor refugees, both in terms of the number of refugees they support, as well as the work that goes into sponsoring a refugee, from pre-arrival to post-arrival.

Sponsors have expressed interest in having more opportunities and means to share their experiences with each other, both to learn from the experiences of others as well as to help others within the community to grow and improve. Various communities in Canada, including Francophone minority communities and rural and remote communities have expressed interest in the private sponsorship of refugees and would benefit from additional support and resources. In addition, refugees themselves have access to a variety of supports and services, but are sometimes unaware of them or how to access them. Via this Call for Proposals, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is seeking to increase the capacity of private sponsors to successfully participate in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program by bolstering existing pre- and post-arrival supports for sponsors and improving refugee awareness of the supports and services available to them.

You are invited to submit a proposal to address the following IRCC objective and outcomes:


To increase the capacity of private sponsors to successfully participate in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program by filling gaps in existing pre- and post-arrival supports for sponsors and in refugee awareness of the supports and services available to them.

Desired outcomes

  • Sponsors understand their roles and responsibilities and are equipped with tools to support refugee newcomers to successfully settle and integrate.
  • Refugees are aware of the supports available to them and have the tools to live independently in Canadian society.
  • Organizations that deliver sponsor supports are coordinated in their development and delivery of training, resources and tools.

Resettlement Assistance Program

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) administers the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) to help refugees settle and adapt to life in Canada, setting them on a path to integration and full citizenship. The RAP contributes to achieving the objectives of the Refugee Resettlement Program of offering timely protection to resettled refugees, meeting the immediate and essential needs of RAP clients and ensuring that resettled refugees have the tools to live independently in Canadian society, while contributing to the departmental ultimate result of resettled refugees live independently in Canadian society. In recognition of the important role that the sponsorship community in Canada plays in achieving these objectives as they relate to Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs), the RAP Terms and Conditions were recently amended to add additional eligible recipients and services. Under the revised Terms and Conditions, eligible recipients include those that provide indirect services that support PSRs and Blended-visa office referred refugees (BVORs), and eligible services now includes indirect services that support PSRs (e.g. funding for resources and training for sponsors that helps build their capacity to support PSRs in Canada).

1. Funding periods and instrument

The deadline to apply has been extended to February 16, 2021 at 5:00pm EST.

The deadline to apply is February 16, 2021 at 5:00pm EST. General instructions for submitting your proposal are below. For more information on submitting your proposal, please consult our detailed instructions for submitting a proposal.

Total available funding for all projects under this initiative is $3M spread across two years.

Funding for recommended projects will be available for a duration of up to two (2) years, ending no later than March 31, 2023. These Funding Guidelines are a tool to help applicants develop their proposal(s). All applicants are responsible for reading the Funding Guidelines in full.

Funding under this process will be provided through a contribution. A contribution is a transfer payment that is subject to the performance conditions as outlined in a funding agreement. Reimbursement of eligible costs is based on the presentation of acceptable claims and progress reports, in accordance with the terms of the contribution agreement.

2. Funding Priorities

Sponsor capacity building projects seek to meet the needs of the sponsors and associated stakeholders who work to resettle privately sponsored refugees and blended-visa office referred refugees. Projects must be informed by a clear understanding of the needs of both the immediate stakeholder (individual sponsors, SAHs, G5s, and Constituent Groups) and the ultimate client, the refugee.

IRCC has identified the following priority areas and will prioritize projects that address these specific needs:

  1. Mentorship and knowledge exchange platforms for sponsors, including Groups of Five;
  2. Rural and remote sponsorship community outreach and training;
  3. Strengthened Service Provider Organization (SPO)/sponsor connections and coordination;
  4. Promotion and development of resources related to the private sponsorship of refugees program developed and delivered in partnership with Francophone Minority Communities; and
  5. Research projects that can be leveraged to improve the support, training and outreach provided to sponsors and/or refugees (e.g. different learning styles, etc).

Applicants may submit proposals that address one or more of the stated priority areas. Applicants may also submit proposals that do not address any of the priority areas; however, there must be clear links to the outcomes stated above.

3. Effective Use of Resources

Indirect services are vital to supporting capacity-building, but are also subject to the reality of finite resources. This means that programming must be as effective and efficient as possible. IRCC encourages engagement of partners and collaboration between proponents to harness the collective skills and knowledge within the settlement, resettlement and other sectors, as well as within Francophone Minority Communities, as applicable.

Partnerships (both new partnerships and deepening of existing partnerships), the nature of partnerships (e.g. financial or service delivery agreements between organizations), leveraging of shared community assets and resources, and other innovative approaches can help us achieve the same or greater outcomes together within budget constraints. Programming can also harness untapped resources such as relevant technologies, new volunteers and businesses.

4. Assessment Criteria and Guidance

Project relevance: 40% of project score

  • Activities are linked to expected/identified outcomes and are relevant to the successful completion of the project.
  • Project outcomes are measurable and there are plans to achieve them.
  • Project outcomes align with the outcomes identified for this funding.
  • Project demonstrates sustainability of impact beyond the funding period.

Potential for success: 35% of project score

  • Project clearly outlines how target clients (i.e. refugees, sponsors) will be engaged in development.
  • Strategy to engage target clients for delivery of services is sufficient and appropriate, if applicable.
  • Applicant has the capacity, experience, contextual knowledge and appropriate partners (if applicable) to carry out the project.
  • Project timelines are reasonable and achievable.
  • There are feasible project goal(s) with clear link(s) to one or more of the priority areas.
  • The need for the project is clear and supported by evidence.

Project cost-effectiveness: 25% of project score

  • Proposed budget is balanced. All costs as well as revenues related to the project have been itemized and explained.
  • Project costs are in line with average costs for similar activities. The applicant demonstrates proper and responsible use of funds related to both administration and program delivery.
  • Project demonstrates value for money.

IRCC is under no obligation to fund any application submitted through this CFP or to fund the entire scope or duration of a proposed project. If a project is selected for possible funding, IRCC will notify the applicant in writing that the application has been approved in principle. Applicants must not assume that their application has been approved-in-principle, until notified by IRCC. The exact activities and associated budget will be discussed and agreed upon within the context of negotiating the contribution agreement. IRCC also reserves the right to prioritize projects in a manner that ensures that all priorities are addressed.

There should be a clear need for the project, supported by evidence and data, where possible. Project goals should be feasible, with clear links to the outcomes (see Foreword).

In light of the central role played by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) in supporting the sponsorship community and a desire to centralize as many resources as possible, successful applicants whose proposals include an element of training or resource development may be asked to partner with the RSTP for the delivery of their project. Where applicable, finalized products will ultimately be added to the RSTP web site.

Applicants should have the necessary capacity and expertise to deliver effective programming. Where specialized knowledge is needed, IRCC will look favourably upon projects that involve external specialists and/or newcomers themselves to help design the most effective programming. This includes working with local stakeholders to ensure that services and partnerships created through funded projects support relevant community stakeholders to build their awareness, knowledge and cultural competencies to meet the needs of sponsors and refugees. IRCC will look favourably upon projects that strengthen the capacity of the francophone sector when they are implemented in partnership with a francophone organization.

Given the ongoing public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that proposals will take this context into account in terms of activities and associated costs (e.g. virtual-by-design). Where in-person activities are included, applicants must make clear why in-person is preferred and how public health guidelines will be adhered to.

Proposals for this call-out should either be national in scope, or, if they are regionally focused, clearly demonstrate how the activities will be monitored and the results shared for possible broader implementation (e.g. a pilot project).

Unlike the larger Call for Proposals process that is managed by IRCC for a broad range of base Settlement and Resettlement Services, this funding is non-recurring. Therefore, priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate longer-term sustainability beyond the funding period. For example, “train the trainer” initiatives, development of training material and resources, low-maintenance platforms, etc.

This process is not intended to support the provision of Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) services which are funded through a separate call for proposals process.

5. Submitting your Proposal

Full proposals must be submitted via the Grants and Contributions System (GCS) partner portal. Hard copy or emailed applications are not accepted.

Using the GCS Portal

Once you have read through and understood these Funding Guidelines, you are ready to prepare and submit your application. Submitting your application is a simple three-step process:

  1. Create your Organization ID.

    If you do not yet have a Grants and Contributions System (GCS) Organization ID, access GCS at and click on the “Create a New Account” link to set up your account and obtain your Organization ID.

  2. Complete your application form.

    Log into your GCS account and create a new application. Complete each of the seven sections of the application form by responding to the listed questions, and refer to the attached instructions for guidance. The seven application sections are as follows:

    • Section 1: Summary
    • Section 2: Goals and Services
    • Section 3: Activities
    • Section 4: Outreach and Outcomes
    • Section 5: Capacity
    • Section 6: Evaluation
    • Section 7: Budget

    In order to submit the application, you must complete all sections, attach all the mandatory documents and approve the Executive Declaration. For more information, read our detailed instructions for submitting a proposal.

There are some mandatory fields in GCS that are NOT required for this process and other fields that require specific information from these funding guidelines. Look for the symbol to the left in the instructions for sections that require specific input.

  1. Click on “Submit” before February 16, 2021 5:00 pm EST

    You must click the “Submit” button on your application form before the deadline in order for your application to be considered for funding. After submitting, you will not be able to modify your application form.

If you encounter any technical issues while completing the application form in the Grants and Contributions System, you are encouraged to contact the Help Desk.

For questions or clarifications related to the CFP, contact the Call for Proposal Coordinators. Call for Proposal Coordinators cannot provide advice on the content of your application.

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