Grants and student awards

ABACUS Phase II: Answers to frequently asked questions

ABACUS Phase II: Answers to frequently asked questions

Here are answers to a number of questions you may have. If you have a question about this fund or the application process, please read through these frequently asked questions first. Please review and, if your question is not here, contact us at and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  We will continue to update this section with answers to questions of broad interest.

How much funding should I be requesting?

For programs serving students in their middle-school years and into high school, we will provide grants up to $65,000 per year; you may apply for up to two years of funding.  For programs serving Grades 4 and 5, organizations can apply for up to $25,000 for one year only.

When can my program start and end?

We envision that the majority of programming will begin during the academic school year (i.e. September to June); however, program activities can also occur in the summer (i.e. July and August).  If your program is exclusively in the summer months, your program may be a better fit with another Foundation Fund such as the Hamilton Spectator Summer Camp Fund.

Can anyone apply for an ABACUS grant?

Grants from Hamilton Community Foundation are limited to registered charities or non-profits with a charitable partner (fiscal sponsorship). Information on fiscal sponsorships is available on our website.

Can I apply for both granting calls?

Yes. You can apply to both granting calls for two separate programs. If you have one program that spans the targeted age range of both calls (i.e. your program serves students in Grades 4-8), you must submit one application in each call (i.e. one application for ABACUS Liftoff! and one application for ABACUS+). Please keep in mind that we anticipate a large number of requests.

How many times can I apply to each granting call?

You are able to submit multiple applications if you have more than one program that fits each fund’s purpose. Although, we anticipate a large number of requests and we will aim to fund a range of organizations.

Can I apply for multi-year funding?

Organizations may apply for up to two years of funding through the ABACUS+ program. If you wish to be considered for two years of funding, this needs to be included in your application. ABACUS Liftoff! programs are not eligible for multi-year funding at this time. We would like to better understand the effectiveness of programs before making long-term funding commitments.

Is funding for school year vs full year a consideration?

Some programs require prep in summer, and some do go into the summer. However, we don’t want to necessarily fund summer-only program without good explanation.

Are personnel costs maxed as a percentage of the program?


My program is currently funded by ABACUS. Do I need to re-apply?

Most programs currently funded by ABACUS will need to re-apply for funding. We want to understand how your program aligns with ABACUS’ refinements (e.g. a deeper focus on students who face barriers and supporting the transition into high school).

There are a few currently funded ABACUS programs that have demonstrated they align with the direction of ABACUS Phase II. These programs have already been notified that they will receive funding.

What is the deadline for my application to be considered?

May 2, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.. Applications will not be accepted after this deadline.

When will I receive a decision about my grant application?

We anticipate that decisions will be made and organizations will be notified by the end of June 2022.

If my grant application is successful, when can I expect to receive funds?

We anticipate that funds will be released to successful applicants in July 2022.

My program serves students attending a High Priority or Equal Opportunities School. Does my program fit the criteria of the fund?

ABACUS aims to deepen its focus on student populations who face persistent and pervasive barriers in the education system. For example, a student attending a priority school may face barriers to learning because there is a language barrier; a situation at home prevents them from attending class regularly; their family cannot afford school supplies; and/or their culture is not represented in what or how they are being taught.

It is important to consider this combination of factors when designing your program’s activities – in other words, take an intersectional approach to meeting student needs. For example, a reading program can take an intersectional approach by incorporating different learning styles of students, culturally relevant books, and multiple access points to the program that are tailored to each student (e.g., language, transportation, food, physical accessibility, etc.).

Since ABACUS supports education programs, do I need to have a relationship with my local school or a school board to receive funding?

Students benefit when systems can work together to support their success and wellness. We are looking for some evidence of partnership with schools and/or school boards. This can be informal (e.g. a description of how your program works with educators) or formal (e.g. memorandum of understanding, partnership agreement).

Is there an expectation that we will work with other community organizations?

One program alone is not likely to be able to offer the range of supports students need. Programs are encouraged to consider partnership opportunities that help increase youth’s access to additional supports.

Does my program still need to incorporate ABACUS’ four pillars?

The first phase of ABACUS was based on four pillars of successful early intervention programs: academic upskilling, mentoring, goal setting and incentives. While these pillars are still important, research shows there are other components of early intervention programs that fall outside of this four-pillar framework. For example, parent engagement, cultural awareness, basic needs, foundational literacy skills and extra-curricular activities.

ABACUS Phase II will no longer require organizations to base their program on this four-pillar framework. However, we will still be looking for your program to incorporate elements of successful early intervention programs. You can read more about the original four pillars and early intervention here.

Can I request funds to support the evaluation of my program?

Yes, if required, you may request up to 15% of your total budget for evaluation activities. We believe evaluation is an important part of running a program – it allows you to reflect on and capture what worked well, what could be improved next time, and the impact your program is having on the students you serve. Identifying lessons learned and sharing them with HCF/other ABACUS grantees helps all of us to work toward a more equitable education system.

What is the ABACUS Community of Practice?

HCF hosts sessions up to four times annually to give organizations an opportunity to share information, make connections between their work, discuss challenges and identify systems-level gaps. School board partners are also invited to take part in the Community of Practice to facilitate connections between community programs and schools. Staff from ABACUS programs are expected to participate in the Community of Practice.