Region of Waterloo Upstream Fund

image of a colourful city and text that says community safety and wellbeing plan

In 2022, the Region launched the Upstream and Community Capacity Building Funds with the transformational intent of shifting power and resources to the community. These funds support community-led initiatives in Waterloo Region that align with the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan (CSWP). 

By focusing on taking action and centering community voices, we are creating a Region where everyone knows they are welcome and valued. Two cohorts have received funding to date, read more about their projects and initiatives. As we progress, we will continue to amplify their stories and the impact they are making on our community. 

Meet some Upstreamers here as they talk about their Upstream projects. 

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Applications are now closed for the 2024 Upstream and Community Capacity Building Funds. Stay tuned for recipient announcements.

Watch the Upstream/CCB presentation Here

 About the Upstream and Community Capacity Building Funds

The Upstream Fund is a council-approved fund that is investing $1.89M in 2024 in community projects that tackle root causes of social and economic issues. 

Upstream approaches allow us to address multiple priorities and issues simultaneously, with a focus on prevention. By investing upstream, we can positively impact more people while potentially requiring fewer resources.

The Community Capacity Building Fund is a council-approved fund that is investing $1M in 2024. This funding prioritizes organizations led by and serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis; African, Caribbean, and Black identifying; and racialized communities who are disproportionately affected by systemic inequality. 

What Does Upstream Mean?  

The concept of Upstream is about prevention. It is about changing systems that distribute wealth, power, and decision-making. Upstream approaches help us to deal with lots of priorities and issues at the same time, while potentially needing fewer resources. The more upstream the action, the more people it can impact, as it is more focused on prevention.

Some of the priority areas of upstream work are:

  • Truth and Reconciliation
  • Addressing Systems that Limit Our Sense of Safety and Wellbeing
  • Making Representation Meaningful and Powerful
  • Committing to Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism
  • Building Understanding and Pursuing a Sense of Belonging
  • Creating Intentionally Structured Accountability
  • Creating Cultural Safety
  • Strengthening Communities – Building Social Capital
  • Providing Basic Supports and Services that Meet Community Needs

Middle and downstream approaches typically focus more on reducing risk, or changing the effects of causes. Taken together these approaches form a continuum of opportunities where change can be made. 

Upcoming Information Events 

Are you interested in applying, or just want to connect with other people doing good work in our community? Join one of our in-person or virtual information sessions/community conversations or attend a drop-in for application support.

Click here for event dates and registration links.

2024 Application Resources

Apply Online Now: Online Application

Download an application form to mail or email (details in form): Printable Application Form

Learn more before applying: Application Guide

Use our sample: Budget Template (Word) Budget Template(Excel)

Learn more about using the funding: Upstream and CCB Best Practices

Get eligibility details and more in the: Upstream Fund Terms of Reference and Community Capacity Building Fund Terms of Reference

Upstream Funding and the Community Safety Wellbeing Plan (CSWP)

The CSWP is a community-crafted framework that interprets local root causes of issues and transforms them into actionable steps for progress. It emphasizes local priorities such as Truth and Reconciliation, Anti-Hate, Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), which are also central to the Upstream Fund and Community Capacity Building Funds.

By adopting a local perspective on Upstream principles, the CSWP guides funding decisions and ensures that initiatives, actions, and programs are tailored to meet local needs. 

Community Change Committee

The Community Change Committee (CCC) is a critical part of the Upstream process.  The CCC is made up of community members who are passionate about making a positive impact in their community.

Guided by an external community facilitator, the CCC will review applications and will allocate Upstream funding based on Community Safety Wellbeing Plan areas of focus, the Upstream Terms of Reference and local priorities. 

The committee is made up of 12 individuals who come from all walks of life, and who bring a diverse range of skills, perspectives and experiences to the Upstream process.Over the last two years the Community Change Committee in the Region of Waterloo has recently allocated funding to over 80 community organizations to improve community health and wellbeing (2022 Cohort List2023 Cohort List). 

Applications for the 2024 CCC are now closed. 

Eligibility of Applicants  

You can review the full eligibility criteria for both funds in the 2024 Upstream Fund Terms of Reference and the 2024 Community Capacity Building Fund Terms of Reference.

If you have any questions about eligibility, please contact or attend an information session.

Other Local Funding Opportunities

Region of Waterloo Public Health and Paramedic Services 

City of Kitchener 

City of Waterloo

City of Cambridge

Waterloo Region Apply

A group of local Waterloo Region funders have created this site to provide organizations looking for funding with a centralized place to begin their search among our available grants.

Learn more:

Previous Recipients

2022 Recipients

2023 Recipients

Media Buzz About the Funds

Media articles

Region of Waterloo media releases 

The Upstream Fund is administered through the Office of Reconciliation, and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Contact the Upstream Team with any questions:

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