How it works

As part of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy and to support the Great Lakes Protection Act, the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund was set up to help people take action to protect and restore their corner of the Great Lakes.

Since it launched in 2012, the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund has awarded $7.5 million to 375 community-based projects, which supported more than 37,000 volunteers to plant over 285,000 trees and shrubs, release over 800,000 fish, create or enhance 760 kilometres of trail and collect over 2,800 bags of garbage.

Learn more: Great Lakes Strategy

Learn more: Great Lakes Protection Act

Funding amount

Your organization could receive a grant of up to $25,000 for projects in:

  • Lake Erie
  • Lake Huron
  • Lake Ontario
  • Lake Superior
  • St. Lawrence River
  • Ottawa River
  • their connecting channels and watersheds

Find your watershed

Who is eligible

The fund is open to:

  • not-for-profit  organizations
  • First Nations communities and organizations
  • Métis communities and organizations

Past applicants

If you applied before, you may apply again this year.

If you applied and were granted funding in past years, you may apply again, but only for different activities.

Eligible projects

To qualify, your project must have a direct environmental benefit and support at least 1 of the 3 goals.

Goal 1: protect water quality for human and ecological health

Examples to meet this goal include:

  • strengthening riverbanks to reduce erosion
  • students restoring wetlands to manage stormwater runoff
  • building fences to keep livestock out of waterways
  • helping property owners maintain septic systems

Goal 2: improve wetlands, beaches and coastal areas

Examples to meet this goal include:

  • youth planting native grasses to restore sand dunes
  • rehabilitating coastal wetlands by restoring fish habitats
  • organizing community events to clean-up shorelines
  • restoring wetlands using traditional ecological knowledge

Goal 3: protect habitats and species

Examples to meet this goal include:

  • students planting trees to provide shaded habitats along shorelines
  • creating habitats for wetland wildlife
  • restoring traditional harvesting areas by planting native species
  • creating fish spawning beds

Project deadline

If your project receives funding in 2018, it must be completed by February 2, 2019.

How to apply

Step 1: download the guide: Great Lakes Fund

Step 2: All applications must be submitted electronically through Grants Ontario. Applicants must have a Grants Ontario account in order to apply. If you do not have a Grants Ontario account, you must first create a ONe-key account and then register for a Grants Ontario enrolment number and PIN.

Step 3: follow the guide and complete the application form through Grants Ontario

Step 4: provide supporting documents:

  • signed letters from key organizations or individuals — if they are critical to your project (i.e., landowners)
  • copies of required permits, approvals or permit applications
  • copy of your organization’s purchasing policy
  • Band Council resolution or motion or letter of support from the Chief

The application period is now closed. Please check back late summer for updates on the next round of applications.

When do I need a signed letter to go with my application form?

Learn more: permits

As soon as a complete application is submitted through Grants Ontario, an email will be sent to the main application contact confirming receipt of the application. Please ensure that this confirmation email is not sent to your junk email folder. We will evaluate your application based on the criteria in the Guide. Incomplete applications may not be considered. We may contact you for more information. We will evaluate your application based on the criteria in the Guide. Incomplete applications may not be considered. We may contact you for more information.

We will only provide a copy of the grant funding agreement if your application is successful.


Call the Public Information Centre:

For help and assistance with Grants Ontario:

For technical assistance, please contact Grants Ontario Customer Service at 416-325-6691 or 1-855-216-3090 or, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.