ARCHIVED – Service delivery improvements funding process: Funding guidelines

Stage 1 application deadline: November 24, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. (PST)

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Through Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s Settlement Program, IRCC works with many partners in the delivery of services to newcomers to Canada and supports their integration into Canadian communities. Through the Settlement Program, IRCC funds a wide scope of services that directly benefit newcomers. In addition, the Settlement Program also funds indirect services that seek to enhance the knowledge and capacity of the IRCC-funded settlement community to optimize newcomer outcomes.

IRCC recognizes that establishing a new life in a new country can be a challenging process and that it is critical that the right services be available at the right time. It is also vital that service providers have the capacity, skills and resources to do this.

Established in 2017, Service Delivery Improvements (SDI) funding is a dedicated stream within the Settlement Program that invests strategically in projects that offer insights on program design and sector improvements in order to build evidence to support future settlement programming. Based on the evidence obtained, IRCC will be able to make more informed choices about future settlement programming and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Settlement Program.

Through this Expression of Interest, IRCC will fund short-term projects (1-3 years) that will focus on testing new approaches to delivering high-quality settlement services. These approaches include leveraging technology, increasing employer involvement and building the capacity of the sector. IRCC recognizes the significant value that will come from projects that generate best practices, identify lessons learned, and encourage service improvements that can be applied across the settlement sector.

The SDI funding stream does not fund direct Settlement services or expansion of them outside of research and testing purposes. For projects to be assessed favourably they must, first and foremost, adhere to a customized service, also referred to as a funding priority, described later in this document. Funding beyond the 1-3 years of the project should not be anticipated. Projects that include the development of particular elements that require on-going funding (e.g. community of practice), should demonstrate potential sources of funding for these activities.

Funding recipients should possess, or be able to secure from a partner, baseline or benchmark data upon which progress towards outcomes are measured. In addition to the standard financial and activity-based reports required, SDI funding recipients will also be required to provide bi-annual Project-level Learning Reports that will provide IRCC with on-going information on outcomes, indicator data, lessons learned and challenges encountered during the project implementation.

Application Assessment based on CORE Principles

IRCC’s CORE Principles underpin all programming funded under the Settlement Program. As funding applicants, you are expected to incorporate these principles in the design, implementation and evaluation of your proposed project(s), and articulate how you have done so in your application. Under the Official Languages Act and the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (IRPA), IRCC also has a responsibility to support the vitality of official language minority communities, satisfy the principle of substantive equality, and adapt its services to meet the needs of the official language minority population Footnote 1.

IRCC’s assessment of your application will take these principles, along with obligations related to official languages into consideration, as outlined below.

Core Principles described below
Text version: Core principles
Programming that is tailored to meet specific client`s profiles. This includes ensuring Francophone services for those who want to live and work in French, and a focus on clients who are vulnerable, marginalized or face barriers.
Programming that is driven by evidence, ensuring the best outcomes, both short and long term, for the client.
Responsive to need
Programming that meets the needs of not only the client, but of society itself, to best integrate newcomers and achieve the shared vision for Settlement and Integration.
Effective use of resources
Programming that is effective and efficient, utilizing partnerships, leveraging shared resources, and developing untapped community assets such as volunteers and local businesses.


According to the Settlement Program logic model, and to the Settlement Program's Terms and Conditions, the client of IRCC-funded settlement services is the newcomer. When applying a client-centred approach to SDI projects, which are classified as indirect settlement services, there are multiple groups to consider. There must be an understanding of the circumstances of the newcomers , as well as other relevant stakeholders and partners. Examples of stakeholders and partners are: communities receiving newcomers, organizations who are delivering settlement services, and organizations affected by newcomers, including employers, provincial/territorial, municipal, and First Nation governments, charities, and non-profits, academic institutions, and other private sector organizations.

Outcomes driven

Outcomes-driven programming is focused on creating a change based on evidence and quantitative as well as qualitative data. Outcomes-driven means being able to track both project outputs and measure outcomes, to recognize success in the immediate, intermediate and ultimate terms.

Outputs vs. outcomes

Outputs are the result of activities you are proposing to undertake (for example, number of community connections services rendered, number of newcomers served).

Outcomes are what changed as a result of the delivered outputs (for example, percentage of newcomers participating in community connections programming who indicate that they increased their social networks as a result of participation in IRCC-funded services).

Outcomes are defined as immediate, intermediate, or ultimate:

Responsive to Need

There should be a clear need for the project, supported by evidence and data. Project goals should be feasible, with clear links to funding priorities as applicable.

Projects must be informed by a clear understanding of the needs of both the immediate stakeholder (settlement workers, sector organizations and communities) and the ultimate client, the newcomer and they must offer programming adaptable to their changing needs.

Learning and applying behavioural insights for target groups is also important for achieving these results.

Effective Use of Resources

SDI programming must be as effective and efficient as possible and applicants must clearly demonstrate the necessary capacity and expertise to deliver an effective project. IRCC encourages engagement of partners and collaboration between proponents to harness the collective skills and knowledge within the settlement, resettlement and other sectors.

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. Partnerships can also harness untapped resources such as relevant technologies, new volunteers and businesses.

Duplication of effort should be avoided and instead, a collaborative approach should be used to learn from the experience of new and existing partners.

Partnership building and collaboration must be featured prominently throughout the life of the project. It is expected that applicants will find partners with whom they can work, within or outside of the Settlement Sector, such as employers, academic institutions, other governments, as well as non-profit or for-profit organizations.

One purpose of these partnerships is to understand how Settlement funds can be better leveraged in communities, either through direct or indirect partnerships. You must demonstrate evidence of leveraging these partnerships in order to increase a project’s potential for success. What types of relationships will be established or deepened over project lifespan? Were consultations used to inform changes to the project design from the onset as well as throughout?

Project Details

Submission Timeline

Submissions for Stage 1 (Letter of Interest) must be submitted by November 24, 2020 in Fluid Review. If you are successful in Stage 1, IRCC will invite you to submit a full proposal in the Grants and Contributions System (GCS) in March 2021.

Process Timeline

Projects for this EOI are expected to start in the fall of 2021 with an end date no later than March 31, 2024. Consideration may be given to some projects seeking to begin before fall 2021.

Funding Amount

While there is no set funding amount per project, funding for this process is approximately $30M per fiscal year.

Settlement Theme: Indirect services

Although activities funded under SDI may offer services directly to newcomers to support research and testing, the overarching theme of potential SDI projects should be indirect, with a focus on building knowledge and capacity of the sector and around new and existing service delivery models.

IRCC is interested in testing specific service delivery models to understand how they can be useful to partners and stakeholders in the settlement sector, and ultimately benefit the overall Settlement Program. For this reason, SDI projects and activities are being considered under the Settlement Program’s Indirect Services theme which includes:

Customized Services (Priorities)

All projects through this process must address one of the 3 Customized Services below.

Customized Service (Funding Priority) 1: Leveraging Technologies to Support Remote Service Delivery

In response to the emergence of COVID-19, the settlement sector has had to rapidly adjust the delivery of most in‑person services under IRCC’s Settlement Program to remote service delivery modes, such as on-line and telephone-based services, or through a hybrid approach that combines some in-person with some remote services. Many service provider organizations (SPOs) have been able to pivot quickly to provide services to newcomers remotely. This experience has underscored the value and necessity of SPOs being well-positioned to support newcomers through technology.

There is a need for a clear understanding of which technologies, under which circumstances, and for whom, can effectively deliver settlement services. COVID-19 has also highlighted several challenges related to technology-based service delivery. These include addressing accessibility and digital literacy for vulnerable groups, as well as other issues such as security and privacy-related considerations.

This priority will encourage the building of user-centredFootnote 2 evidence and testing of the use of technologies and other program adaptations to make settlement services more readily delivered online, by phone, or in a hybrid online/in-person format. Through this funding, it is anticipated that recipients will explore existing technologies to determine how we can improve the effective and efficient delivery of settlement services, while also identifying and addressing barriers to equitable access.

Evidence produced through this funding stream will enable the settlement sector and IRCC to move towards proactive implementation of technology-supported service delivery in the medium-term, centred on the newcomer experience and strengthening positive outcomes. A more informed and tailored Settlement Program that uses remote service delivery to most effectively respond to newcomer circumstances could potentially serve more newcomers, while ensuring their successful settlement and integration during the COVID-19 recovery period.

The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated underlying social inequities, including those experienced by newcomers, particularly those with intersectional factors of race, gender and sexuality. Projects under this priority should take into consideration the inequities of technology access and use for newcomers.

This priority is not intended to fund the development of new applications, software or to support the purchase of hardware such as servers, computers or mobile devices.

Examples of project focus

Examples of ineligible projects

Customized Service (Funding Priority) 2: Testing Increased Employer Involvement in Settlement Services to Improve Employment Outcomes

COVID-19 is having a major impact on the employment prospects of newcomers, particular those experiencing conditions of vulnerability. The changing economic and employment landscape in Canada resulting from both COVID-19 and other societal changes can be better addressed through stronger partnerships with private sector employers. Employers, as a strong driver for immigration, have a significant role to play in supporting the successful integration and retention of newcomer for the benefit of all: employers, newcomers, communities and Canada.

Projects under this priority would develop and test innovative approaches to facilitating employer (or employment council)/settlement service partnerships and provide evidence on their benefits and drawbacks. Building on experiences such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, funding under this priority will be used to test approaches promoting increased employer involvement in the integration of newcomers with a particular focus on increasing the involvement of employer resources (financial and/or other) in supporting settlement services over the medium and long-term.

This priority may also support projects that facilitate partnerships between employers, sector councils and community partners to develop sector-specific employment-related services to meet labour market needs and to support community connectedness for newcomer employees. This could include employer involvement in training and reskilling, especially for more vulnerable newcomers.

Proposals must take into account employment barriers and outcomes for a diversity of newcomers, especially newcomer women, youth, and LGBTQ2 individuals.

Examples of eligible projects

Test blended, on-the-job language training or intercultural training offered by the employer (in either official language) as compared to traditionally segregated training options. IRCC has a particular interest in testing on-the-job language training for French-speaking immigrants.

Examples of ineligible projects

Customized Service (Funding Priority) 3: Supporting Settlement Sector Resilience and Adaptability through Social Research & Development, Building Evidence and Enhancing Anti-Racism Capacity.

The settlement sector has adapted quickly to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 in order to serve newcomers through remote service delivery modes and address new challenges in newcomer circumstances. COVID-19 and other rapidly changing economic and social conditions will continue to test the resilience and flexibility of the sector.

Public funding for settlement services has focused primarily on direct service delivery to newcomers. However, funding to build the capacity of settlement service providers is vital for the resiliency of the sector. Just as the private sector has always invested a significant portion of revenues into research and development in order to understand and respond to customer needs, the settlement sector (and the broader social services sector) needs investments that build its own capacity for social research and development (Social R&D) in order to better serve newcomers. This includes supporting the sector to develop the skills and tools to adapt, design and implement innovative solutions and measure the effectiveness and efficiency of existing and new programming. This will allow the sector to generate the evidence needed to improve newcomer outcomes and increase capacity to design flexible and responsive programming to adapt to rapidly evolving challenges.

IRCC is looking to fund organizations, agencies or academic institutions with demonstrated Social R&D and outcomes measurement expertise who will partner with IRCC funded agencies to help develop the skills needed to undertake research, design, as well as measure, evaluate and report on projects and/or programs.

Applications can be limited to teaching SPOs how to undertake Social R&D and outcomes measurements and/or include experimental components that result in research findings. Social R&D focused on programs supporting newcomers who experience higher rates of marginalization such as newcomer and refugee women, youth and gender-diverse individuals, are encouraged.

Anti-Racism Capacity

This priority also seeks to build the capacity of the settlement sector to support anti-racism practices within their workplaces and in their programming. This priority promotes engagement in the larger Canadian space to encourage positive dialogue between newcomers, long-term Canadians and Indigenous peoples. Applicants should partner with organizations who are active and experienced in the anti-racism space, including those who are funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage. Projects will support settlement organizations’ capacity to develop and test anti-racism initiatives that improve social cohesion by promoting a whole-of-society approach to newcomer integration, fostering collaboration between newcomers, Indigenous peoples and Canadian citizens, and empowering newcomers to understand their rights in Canada and address stigma and discrimination.

Limitation: Letters of interest will only be entertained from academic institutions, organizations, or agencies including Local Immigration Partnerships, Réseaux en immigration francophone, Zonal Immigration Partnerships, and Umbrella Associations, which can demonstrate either Social R&D expertise, or outcomes measurement expertise, or anti-racism expertise. Settlement SPOs delivering IRCC-funded Community Connections services are eligible to apply for the anti-racism stream.

Examples of eligible projects

Examples of ineligible projects

SDI Project Outcomes

Projects funded under SDI must focus on measuring their outcomes. The main aim is to find models which are more effective (achieve outcomes at higher levels than other models) and efficient (deliver outcomes at a lower cost). As a dedicated fund to test new and innovative models, IRCC is interested in learning from “what works for who and when” and “what does not”. Evidence supporting learnings about what does not work well is also valuable for the Department.

To receive funding, projects must demonstrate how they will address at least one of the following Settlement Program immediate outcomes, and at least one intermediate outcome.

Immediate outcomes

Intermediate outcomes

Measuring and improving project performance

In order to document improvement, SDI funding recipients, should, to the extent possible, already have or collect baseline/benchmark data – this will be the starting point and is the basis upon which progress towards outcomes is measured. Baseline data is collected at one point in time and used as a point of reference. Baseline data provides a specific value for an indicator and should be collected before project implementation. Without knowing the baseline at the onset of the project, it is impossible to properly assess progress.

All proposals submitted to IRCC must put forward a strong evaluation framework which provides a plan for the collection of data during the project implementation. It contains all the indicators Footnote 3 to measure progress on the achievement of the projects outcomes, and also specifies the data collection sources and methods.

The use of independent third-party evaluators is strongly encouraged.


Funded projects must provide evidence (actual data) which will allow for the on-going assessment of projects progress on/or towards each of the expected outcomes (in comparison to baseline data).

Funding Requirements

Please refer to the Settlement Programs Terms and Conditions for additional details on client and recipient eligibility.

Eligible Recipients

In order to fulfill IRCC’s objective of promoting the successful integration of permanent residents into Canada, contribution agreements may be signed with the following eligible recipients for settlement services:

International organizations.

Eligible Clients

The following persons are eligible to receive settlement services:

Funding Instruments

Funding under this process may be provided through a contribution agreement or a grant. The Department will make the determination as to which funding instrument will be used to support a project for this process.

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.

Grant: A Grant is a transfer payment subject to pre-established eligibility and other entitlement criteria. A grant may be paid in installments or in full depending on the amount, and typically has reduced reporting requirements consisting of performance/outcomes reporting only.

To be eligible for a grant, projects must meet at least the following criteria:

Additional criteria such as project complexity, legal history, and applicant capacity is also used to assess eligibility of projects for grants.

Applicants do not need to identify whether they are applying for a contribution agreement or a grant.

If an applicant is not eligible for a grant, it is still possible to be considered for funding via a contribution agreement.


IRCC is under no obligation to fund any application submitted through this EOI 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.

Proposed project budgets should be based on a realistic evaluation of expenses required to deliver proposed activities. All applicants should refer to IRCC’s Budget Guidance for detailed information on eligible and ineligible items. The amount of funding and scope of activities that will be supported by IRCC will be contingent on the satisfactory negotiation of a grant or contribution agreement.

Any expenditure incurred prior to the signing of the grant or contribution agreement by IRCC or prior to IRCC’s approved project start date, or any costs related to the preparation of an application, will not be reimbursed.

Submission Process and Instructions

What is an Expression of Interest (EOI)?

This EOI process is being used to address emerging program priorities and/or needs as outlined in this Funding Guideline, using a specific source of funds. The EOI process is intended to minimize the time and effort required by applicants to submit an application by requesting preliminary project information via a Letter of Interest.

Only applicants whose submissions pass an initial screening stage (Stage 1: Letter of Interest) will be invited to submit a full proposal in Stage 2. The Stage 2 full proposal will describe in detail the proposed activities, timelines, detailed costs, project feasibility, partnerships, evaluation methods and how the project meets SDI-specific criteria.

Instructions on Submitting a Letter of Interest (LOI) for Stage 1

To assist you as you write your application, you should first review the following reference materials:




Once you have read through the material and understood these Funding Guidelines, you are ready to submit your LOI. The application process involves two systems – the Grants and Contributions (GCS) Partner Portal and a Fluid Review account.

To submit an LOI, all applicants must create a Fluid Review account; this is the system applicants will use to view and submit a Letter of Interest. Submitting your Letter of Interest is a four step process (below).

Please note that before you can begin completing your LOI you must first complete the in-system suitability self-assessment to ensure that this funding process is right for you.

  1. Create a GCS Account and Obtain your GCS Organization ID

    A Grants and Contributions System (GCS) Organization ID (e.g. 1-12A345) is required to access the Fluid Review portal in which the Letter of Interest must be completed.

    If you do not yet have a GCS Organization ID, click on the “Create an Account” option at the following link to obtain your Organization ID:

  2. Create a Fluid Review Account

    Letters of Interest for this funding process can only be submitted online through the portal Fluid Review account. Follow the instructions on the Fluid Review SDI EOI page to create an account and review the Letter of Interest requirements.

  3. Attend one of the Applicant Webinars

    IRCC will be hosting information webinars in both official languages with potential applicants to answer questions related to the SDI EOI process and the associated funding guidelines. Webinar times and dates can be found on the Service Delivery Improvements EOI page.

  4. Complete your Letter of Interest following the instructions on the Fluid Review SDI EOI page.

    The Fluid Review SDI EOI page will be accepting submissions as of 12:00pm EST October 15, 2020, until 5:00 pm PST on November 24, 2020.

Upon submission you will no longer be able to resubmit or modify your Letter of Interest for this process. IRCC will send you an automatic notification that your Letter of Interest has been received.

Once your LOI is submitted you have completed Stage 1 of the EOI process.

Instructions on Submitting a Full Proposal for Stage 2

If you are successful you will be invited to submit a full proposal for funding in Stage 2 of this EOI process in March 2021. You will also be invited to a Stage 2 SDI EOI Applicant Webinar.

Full proposals must be submitted via the Grants and Contributions System (GCS) partner portal. Hard copy or emailed applications are not accepted. Only applicants that have successfully passed Stage 1 will have access to the application form in GCS for Stage 2.

You must attach certain mandatory documents to your application. Different mandatory documents are required based on your applicant type.

There is a size limitation of 10MB per attached documents.

Applications missing mandatory documents will be considered incomplete and will be removed from the process; there will be no follow-up from IRCC to obtain missing information.

Applicant Type: Public institutions (such as a school board) and any non-federal governments

Applicant Type: Other organizations (including non-profits)

Applicant Type: Individuals

Submitting a full proposal in Stage 2 is a three step process:

  1. Review the Application form in GCS

In your Stage 2 invitation you will be directed to return to the GCS partner portal. Log into your GCS account, and follow instructions for creating a full application under the SDI EOI process. Review the application form in advance of upcoming webinar.

  1. Attend the Stage 2 Applicant Webinar

IRCC will be hosting a webinar with successful Stage 1 applicants to answer questions about the funding process. The time and date of the webinar will be communicated in the Stage 2 invitation.

  1. Submit Full Funding Application

Complete and submit your application in the GCS partner portal.

Each section of the online application must be complete before you can submit.

Assessment Process

The proposal must meet the mandatory document criteria in order to be further assessed. Funding decisions will be based on a proposal’s assessment score and departmental considerations.

Letter of Interest Assessment

Letters of interest will pass through a preliminary screening process to assess:

  1. the project’s alignment with one of the SDI customized services (priorities);
  2. the projects alignment with at least one immediate and one intermediate outcome required for SDI;
  3. that the problem statement is clearly identified, is supported by evidence which also clearly indicates that current interventions do not address the problem identified;
  4. that the project will address the problem statement, support IRCC Settlement Program outcomes and that activities have a clear and direct link to the problem and are aligned with project objectives;
  5. that the methodology is well defined and able to track the progress of activities, expected outcomes and improvements to service delivery or newcomer outcomes;
  6. that partners contribute to the project in a meaningful way to the design, development and implementation of the project;
  7. that a third-party evaluation will be undertaken or that sufficient experience and skills are demonstrated to undertake an evaluation in-house.

Full Proposal Assessment

Below are the overarching assessment criteria, based on CORE Principles, against which all applications will be evaluated. Projects should take into consideration the innovative nature of SDI and demonstrate the potential for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Settlement Program. Funding decisions are based on your proposal’s total assessment score, service provider funding history with IRCC (if applicable), and departmental priorities.

Principles and assessment criteria

  1. Client-Centred (15%)
    1. Strategy to engage target project participants is sufficient and appropriate.
    2. Programming is newcomer-informed with flexibility to meet the emerging needs of both immediate stakeholders and newcomers
    3. Applicants demonstrate that they have the capacity, experience, contextual knowledge, and appropriate partners (if applicable) to carry out the project.
  2. Outcomes-Driven (40%)
    1. Project activities are geared towards and can directly lead to expected outcomes.
    2. Activities are relevant to outcomes and the completion of the project.
    3. Project outcomes align with one or more IRCC outcomes identified in the funding guidelines. The link between the immediate and intermediate outcome is logical.
    4. Each project outcome is measurable and the organization has a plan in place to ensure that they achieve successful outcome(s).
    5. Each outcome is supported by a plan to monitor performance and evaluate results. Data collected will be used to assess, report and adjust programming.
  3. Responsive to Need (20%)
    1. The need for the project is clear and supported by evidence.
    2. There are feasible project goal(s) with clear link(s) to one priority.
    3. Proponents consult or include appropriate experts in the design, development or implementation of the project to be responsive to needs.
    4. Project has processes in place to identify emerging needs and circumstances, and to adapt and adjust services accordingly.
    5. Projects are delivered in ways that are accessible to all potential stakeholders (including Francophone organizations).
  4. Effective Use of Resources (25%)
    1. Full range of community assets are being leveraged to avoid duplication (e.g., building on existing resources and expertise from both within the settlement sector and through other partnerships).
    2. Proposed budget is balanced. All costs and revenues related to the project have been itemized and explained.
    3. Project costs are in line with average costs for similar services in the same geographic area, where applicable.
    4. The applicant has demonstrated proper and responsible use of funds related to both administration and delivery of a project.

Service Standards and Communication with IRCC

We will keep applicants informed on the processing of their submission through each stage of the EOI process and in accordance to the following standards:


Within 7 days from the close of process: Upon submission of your Letter of Interest, you will receive acknowledgement of your submission.

Eligibility to Proceed

Within 90 days of the close of the letter of interest submission period (Stage 1), IRCC will send written confirmation via email informing you whether your Letter of Interest has passed the initial screening stage.

Upon submission of a full proposal (Stage 2), IRCC will send an automatic notification confirming that your full proposal has been received.


Within 90 days of the close of the proposal submission period (Stage 2), IRCC will send written notification to applicants advising whether the Department is interested in entering into negotiations with the applicant, or whether IRCC needs more time before issuing a positive or negative decision.

Unless otherwise noted, these confirmations will be communicated electronically.

Contact: Should you have questions or require further clarification about this funding process, please contact IRCC at; please note that the inbox cannot provide guidance on proposal content. For questions relating to GCS, please contact

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