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TD FEF Leadership Grants: Building Capacity in Canada’s Environmental Sector

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF) recognizes that investing in talent and leadership development is integral to capacity building of small to medium-sized organizations.

The TD FEF Leadership Grant program aims to enhance the organizational capacity of environmental charities by providing funding for both formal and informal training and development opportunities for leaders within these organizations.

As the only national program of its kind entirely focused on the environmental sector, TD FEF’s Leadership Grants will allow charities to move beyond day-to-day activities and build stronger, more vibrant organizations.

Fourteen Leadership Grants of up to $5,000 each will be awarded annually,  two for each of TD FEF’s seven regions – Pacific, Prairie, Ontario North and East, Western Ontario, Greater Toronto Region, Quebec and Atlantic.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Organizations must be a registered Canadian Charity with an environmental focus
  • Preference will be given to organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $1 million
  • Applicants should be leaders/ innovators in their organization or field
  • Applicants must have the endorsement of their Executive Director, or a Board Member in the case that the applicant is the Executive Director
  • Organizations can apply for one grant of up to $5,000 per twelve month period
  • Organizations must attest that the projects, programs and activities for which they seek funding comply with TD FEF’s anti-discrimination policy


How Can I Use My Leadership Grant?

The TD FEF 2014 Leadership Grant recipients used their grants to support participation in a wide variety of activities, including in-person and online courses, conferences, and individualized mentoring or work-study programs. These activities were offered by universities, colleges, learning centres or retreats, other charities or non-profits and private consultants, and included topics related to technical skills-building, leadership development and organizational management.

What all of the successful recipients had in common is that they identified areas in which improving their skills or knowledge could help them be stronger leaders in their organization, and made a strong case for how their proposed activities would help them bridge those gaps.

Examples of activities undertaken by the 2014 Leadership Grant recipients include:

  • University or college-level courses on a wide variety of subjects, including Non-profit Management (Ryerson University), A Manager’s Guide to Financial Management (St. Mary’s University), Studies in the Environment and Sustainability (University of Montreal), and Volunteer and Event Management (University of Western Ontario);
  • Post-graduate programs and certificates, including the Ivey Leadership Program (University of Western Ontario) and the Management Development Certificate Program (University of New Brunswick);
  • Intensive leadership courses at learning or retreat centres, such as the Banff Institute, Hollyhock or the Wilderness Awareness School;
  • Online learning communications and fundraising modules such as those offered by National organizations such as ECO Canada and Charity Village;
  • Locally offered workshops and courses on volunteer and organizational management and evaluation, including those offered by Propellus (Calgary), Pillar (London) and the Social Economy Centre (Toronto);
  • Sector-specific conferences and events that are related to leadership and leadership development; and
  • Workshops and courses focused on technical skills, including Ecological Land Classification, Environmental Assessment, GIS, and Tree and Plant Identification.


“Thanks so much to TD-FEF for the opportunity to zero in on Strategic Leadership and its various facets in the Leadership Program at the beautiful Banff Centre. The facilitators were very skilled, and a variety of activities each day of the week built our capacity as leaders in non-profit and public institutions, exploring the potential of empowering our communities through engaged and empathetic leadership… I returned to my organization with a renewed vision and clarity about how we need to move forward together, and the value of continuous learning.”

  • Sunday Harrison, Program Director, Green Thumbs Growing Kids

“I was awarded the TD leadership grant and enrolled in the management development program at UNB… This program has helped me tremendously to grow on professional and personal level. I learned about myself and my team members through the insight personality profile, generational trends, and other tools. I was able to gain assurance about some practices that I implemented in the workplace and I was able to identify which areas of my management skills need improvement. I have shared many of these experiences with my staff and started to implement some of these tools into the workplace. This course has given me confidence that I am on the right track and that I can take the organization another step further. I am grateful to TD FEF for awarding me with this grant as our budget would not allow for this expense and I hope that many other managers in the charitable sector will take advantage of this wonderful grant.”

  • Renata Woodward, Executive Director, Nature Trust of New Brunswick

“The TD Leadership grant has given Carolinian Canada an unprecedented opportunity to take leadership training to a new level. Given our shoestring budget, we would not have been able to access the Ivey Leadership program, one of the best in the country, without this grant.   The grant has given me opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of leadership priorities, hone my management approach significantly and pursue new strategic directions for our organization confidently… Although my experience and mandate was very different from most participants, we found that we shared many challenges, concerns and goals in the realm of leadership.”

  • Michelle Kanter, Executive Director, Carolinian Canada Coalition

“The TD Leadership Grant provided me with an opportunity for professional growth and the chance to share my learning experiences with EcoSource staff and management. I was able to participate in courses with The Banff Centre, The Canadian Evaluation Society, and the Social Economy Centre (OISE – University of Toronto). These programs allowed me to reflect on my professional practice while also acquiring effective tools to enhance my leadership abilities within the not-for-profit sector. As a result, I have developed a deeper understanding of research, policies, and practices as they pertain to high-quality program development and planning. I have also gained insight into successful program management, directly applying this knowledge both in how I lead my team and contribute to my organization. Through modelling and knowledge sharing, I have been able to convey best practices to the EcoSource staff”

  • Sierra Frank, Program Manager – Certification, Ontario EcoSchools
    • Formerly School Programs Manager, EcoSource


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