Most of the Foundation’s work involves providing grants to partners. The following paragraphs describe the types of grants we offer, the program areas we focus on, and what we mean by policy and practice.

Program Areas

We seek to support projects that have a high likelihood of informing public policy and/or practice. To help ensure that happens, we look for alignment between government priorities and our own program priorities. Every three years we conduct an environmental scan that includes consulting with a range senior public servants and other public policy experts. The results of the scan help us understand what policy issues are central to agendas at all levels of government in Canada. Our current program priorities are listed below:

Environment Program

(1) Development and implementation of strategies that assist communities in adapting to the effects of climate change.

(2) Development and implementation of strategies that assist in the transition to a low carbon economy.

(3) Development and implementation of strategies for resolving conflicts between ecological integrity and growth and development of the economy.

Health and Wellness Program

(1) Development and implementation of strategies to promote good mental health among children and youth.

(2) Development and implementation of strategies to improve “value for money” in health care, especially those related to:

  • assessing and spreading innovations in health care delivery, and
  • mobilizing knowledge.

(3) Development and implementation of strategies to encourage wellness and reduce illness among Canadians whose health is at risk due to:

  • age-related factors, and
  • social determinants of health.

Of particular interest are initiatives that focus on the most vulnerable populations.

Education Program

(1) Development and implementation of strategies to prepare learners for digital citizenship and an evolving knowledge economy.

(2) Development and implementation of strategies and programs in K-12 schools that will contribute to improving the mental and physical health and wellness of learners.

(3) Development and implementation of strategies and programs that ensure school success among sub-populations where low levels of success persist.

Global Thematic Lenses

In addition to the above, two global thematic lenses apply to all our program priorities:

  • Improving the well-being of Indigenous individuals and communities; and
  • Addressing the impacts of new technologies on the structure and function of society and the economy, and in particular on public policy decision making.

Grant Types

Max Bell Foundation makes two kinds of grants.

Project Grants support clearly defined activities designed to achieve a specific objective that aligns with the Foundation’s mission and criteria. Max Bell Foundation does not support ongoing programs, capital projects, nor provide unrestricted grants to organizations. Project grants are described in more detail below.
Development Grants support organizations who wish to undertake short term (typically 4 month) work that will better position them to succeed with larger projects (e.g., environmental scanning; background research; project planning; proposal development etc.). Development grants are described in more detail below.


For both grant types, Max Bell Foundation assesses proposals for alignment with our mission, programs, and criteria, as well as their likelihood of impacting public policy and practice. Our program areas, the grant types, and policy and practice are explained below. You can read more about other criteria by which we assess proposals here.

Project Grants 

These grants support clearly defined activities designed to achieve a specific purpose that aligns with the Foundation’s mission and criteria. We have no set requirements for the duration or cost of a project, but a typical project supported by Max Bell Foundation ranges from 1-3 years in duration and has a budget that ranges from approximately $10,000 to $200,000 or beyond. Max Bell Foundation is seldom the only financial supporter of projects we fund.

The word “project” is sometimes used to refer loosely to any set of activities. We use the term in a more specific way. For our purposes, projects are:

  • clearly defined sets of activities that are coordinated and necessary to achieve a specific, well defined, measureable purpose
  • temporary and term-specific (e.g., 12 months, or 30 months, etc.) – not ongoing work of an organization
  • have separate, clear budgets and financial accounting procedures

Projects are different from general operating support, capital purchases, and ongoing programs, none of which are eligible for support by Max Bell Foundation.

We expect that all project-related expenses, including a portion of overhead and administration, should be budgeted for in proposals we consider.

Development Grants

These grants support registered charities doing exploratory or developmental work while employing students or early career individuals. Funded projects in this grant program have the following characteristics:

  • They undertake short-term developmental work on priority public policy issues in health & wellness, education, or environment.
  • They help position applicant organizations to succeed with other larger-scale public policy initiatives.
  • They may include data gathering, environmental scanning, literature reviews, preliminary analyses, detailed project planning, etc.
  • They provide excellent learning and mentorship experiences for some of Canada’s best and brightest young researchers.

Grants within this program cover both a stipend for the incumbent and the overhead costs of mentoring and administration.

Please note that we do not make grants to individuals seeking an internship, nor do we participate in recruiting, screening, or hiring candidates for positions supported by this program.

Stipend: The proposed stipend should reflect the market rate for a junior position, taking into account education and experience.

Mentoring and Administration: It is expected that the grantee organization will commit to having senior staff both supervise and mentor the incumbent. We anticipate this to require approximately three to six hours per week. Administrative costs will include the search and hiring process, and an appropriate portion of overhead expenses.

Term: It is expected that the incumbent will work for the recipient organization on a full time basis (i.e., 160 hours per month), typically for four months (although in certain cases, longer terms may be considered).

Eligibility: The contracts are to be awarded through a competitive search open to all qualified applicants who are Canadian citizens. The incumbent may be seeking temporary employment, completing a work term in a co-operative education program, or between semesters of a course of study.

Project Topic and Scope: Incumbents should be charged with completing a pre-defined set of activities that will augment the grantee organization’s ability to undertake more extensive work in an area of public policy that pertains to health & wellness and/or education and/or environment.

Administration: The recipient organization is responsible for the following:

  • searching for and selecting an incumbent through an open, competitive process
  • development of a practical work plan
  • providing the necessary infrastructure (e.g., office space, computer, internet connectivity, telephone, etc.)
  • mentoring
  • assuring that the incumbent completes their work within the specified time frame

It is expected that the incumbent will provide periodic reports on her/his progress to both the recipient organization and Max Bell Foundation.

Deliverables: In addition to the regular reports from the incumbent, senior staff of the recipient organization will prepare a final report on the grant. It is expected that the project undertaken will yield formal written output(s) that could include, for example, one or more of:

  • a literature review
  • a research brief
  • policy recommendations
  • a complete proposal to potential funders, including Max Bell Foundation, for a more comprehensive initiative

Definitions of “public policies & practices”

The following working definition may be useful to those considering applying for support from Max Bell Foundation.

Public policy refers to official decisions that guide the activities of organizations operating in the public interest. Such organizations include governments and non-profit organizations at the local, municipal, regional, provincial, and national levels.

For example, public policy decisions can be expressed as legislation, resolutions, regulations, by-laws, appropriations, court decisions, etc.

Public policy refers not only to decisions, but also the programs and administrative practices undertaken by organizations operating in the public interest.