Partnership Grants—Stage 1

February 2024 Competition

Value Stage 1: up to $20,000
Stage 2 (by invitation only): up to $2.5 million
Duration 4 to 7 years
Application deadlineFootnote * February 10, 2024 (8 p.m. eastern)
Results announced June 2024
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Partnership Grants are expected to respond to the objectives of the Research partnerships program. Proposals exclusively for partnered research training initiatives are expected to respond, instead, to the objectives of the Research training and talent development program.

These grants provide support for new and existing formal partnerships over four to seven years to advance research, research training and/or knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities. This is done through mutual co-operation and sharing of intellectual leadership, as well as through resources as shown by cash and/or in-kind contributions.

Partnership Grants are intended for large teams of postsecondary institutions and/or organizations of various types that work in formal collaboration.

The quality of training, mentoring and employability plans for students and emerging scholars will be evaluated as an important part of the proposed initiative. SSHRC’s Guidelines for Effective Research Training explain how students and emerging scholars can meaningfully participate in proposed initiatives.

The intellectual leadership and governance for a new or existing formal partnership can come from the research community and/or from partner organizations from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. However, only an institution that meets institutional eligibility requirements can administer the grant funding. For more information, see Eligibility.

SSHRC’s Partnerships Tool-kit offers tools and resources to assist in the planning and implementation of your partnership.

Types of partnerships

Two categories of partnerships can request support:

  • existing partnerships to foster new research and/or research-related partnership activities that are distinct from the partnership’s previous/ongoing partnership activities; and
  • new partnerships to foster new research and/or research-related partnership activities that are undertaken by partnerships in their initial stages.

Following is a list of possible formal partnership approaches. Applicants are not limited to these approaches and can combine features of different approaches.

  • Disciplinary and interdisciplinary research partnerships: Interinstitutional research initiatives designed to significantly contribute to advancing knowledge and understanding in the social sciences and/or humanities. While SSHRC welcomes proposals for interdisciplinary research partnerships involving natural sciences, engineering and/or health partner organizations, proposed partnerships must follow SSHRC’s subject matter eligibility guidelines.
  • Cross-sector co-creation of knowledge and understanding: Partnerships that use ongoing collaboration and mutual learning to foster innovative research, training and the co-creation of new knowledge on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.
  • Networks for research and/or related activities: Networks designed to advance the innovative co-creation of knowledge, as well as training and mobilization of research, on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.
  • Partnered knowledge mobilization: Partnerships designed to synthesize, apply and mobilize new and existing social sciences and humanities research knowledge in accessible ways to build institutional capacity and increase the national and international impact and stature of Canadian research.
  • Partnered chairs: Partnerships to nominate research chairs designed to advance research and/or related activities in a specific social sciences and/or humanities area. Partner organizations pool financial resources and suggest an amount of funds required from SSHRC. Proposals must show that a formal agreement exists between the partner organizations to maintain the chair position for a minimum of four years. Proposals must include the name of the suggested chairholder. For more information, see SSHRC’s Guidelines for Partnered Chairs.
  • Partnered research centres: Partnerships to create or support a research centre designed to advance research and/or related activities in a specific social sciences and/or humanities area. Partner organizations pool financial resources and suggest an amount of funds required from SSHRC. Proposals must show that a formal agreement exists between the partner organizations to maintain the centre for a minimum of four years.
  • Partnered research training initiatives: Partnerships designed to support the creation of innovative approaches that enrich research training experiences for students and postdoctoral researchers while enabling their transition to academic or non-academic workplace settings. For more information, see SSHRC’s Guidelines for Partnered Research Training Initiatives. These guidelines apply only to proposals that focus primarily on research training and must respond to the objectives of the Research training and talent development program.

SSHRC welcomes applications involving Indigenous research, as well as those involving research-creation.

Joint initiatives

SSHRC collaborates with organizations from across the not-for-profit, private and public sectors to support and promote training, research and connection activities in the social sciences and humanities. SSHRC’s joint initiatives are designed to reflect its strategic objectives and mandate, inform decision-makers and, in certain cases, address specific needs of its partners.

Learn more about joint initiatives.

For a complete list of available joint initiatives, see SSHRC’s funding search tool.

Future Challenge Areas

SSHRC invites all applicants to review Imagining Canada’s Future’s 16 future global challenges and to consider addressing one or more of these areas in their research proposal. This is not an evaluation criterion for merit review and does not offer additional or dedicated research funds for this funding opportunity.

Value and duration

Partnership Grants undergo a two-stage merit review process. This funding opportunity description applies to Stage 1 applications. Only applicants successful in the Partnership Grants—Stage 1 process are invited to apply in Stage 2.

Stage 1: Applications successful in Stage 1 are awarded grants valued at up to $20,000. These funds help applicants prepare the Stage 2 application.

Stage 2 (by invitation only): Using the funds awarded in the successful Stage 1 application, Stage 2 applicants:

  • further refine the question(s) to be addressed;
  • establish partnership arrangements, a governance structure and/or an approach/methodology; and
  • consolidate their collaborative activities.

Partnership Grants awarded in Stage 2 are valued at up to $500,000 per year over four to seven years, up to a total of $2.5 million.

Salary research allowance

A salary research allowance can be requested for not-for-profit organizations involved in the partnership with an applicant, co-director or co-applicant on the team to release them from duties to their organization.


Subject matter

Most SSHRC funding is awarded through open competitions. Proposals can involve any disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding. See the guidelines on subject matter eligibility for more information.

Projects whose primary objective is curriculum development, preparation of teaching materials, program evaluation, digitization of a collection or creation of a database are not eligible for funding under this funding opportunity.


Applications must be submitted by an eligible Canadian institution. The project director must be affiliated with the host institution (the applicant) and prepares the application on behalf of the host institution and the formal partnership. The term “institution” from this point on refers to both postsecondary institutions and not‑for‑profit organizations.

Project directors who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but have failed to submit an achievement report by the deadline specified in their Notice of Award are not eligible to apply for another SSHRC grant until they have submitted the report.

Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to be project directors if they have formally established an affiliation with the eligible institution within five months of the grant start date, and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period. Before applying, postdoctoral researchers must confirm with their institution’s research grants officer that the institution can administer the funding if awarded.

Students enrolled in a program of study are not eligible to apply as project directors. However, a PhD candidate is eligible to apply if they:

  • will have met all requirements for the PhD before the grant is awarded, including all course work and successful defence of their dissertation; and
  • establish a formal affiliation with the eligible Canadian institution within five months of the grant start date, and maintain this affiliation for the duration of the grant period.

Federal scientists who are affiliated with a Canadian postsecondary institution must show that their proposed research or research-related activity is not related to either the mandate of their employer or the normal duties for which they receive payment from that employer.

If the proposal falls within the mandate of the federal government and the research or research-related activity is performed in government facilities, funding can only be allocated for student salaries, stipends and travel costs.


Grant funds can only be administered by an eligible Canadian institution. Institutions proposing to administer a grant awarded under this funding opportunity must hold or obtain institutional eligibility. See SSHRC’s list of eligible institutions.

All not-for-profit organizations that require institutional eligibility must contact SSHRC at least five business days before the application deadline to be added to the application form and begin the eligibility process.

Indigenous not-for-profit organizations wanting to administer multiple Partnership Development Grants, Partnership Grants and/or Connection Grants going forward are encouraged to begin the institutional eligibility application process at least two months before the relevant funding opportunity’s application deadline.

Institutions must contact to begin the institutional eligibility application process, or if they have questions about institutional eligibility.

Not-for-profit organization applicants must have at least one Canadian postsecondary institution partner organization to be eligible for this funding opportunity.

Co-directors and co-applicants

Individuals are eligible to be co-directors and co-applicants if they are formally affiliated with any of the following:

  • Canadian eligible postsecondary institution; not-for-profit organization; philanthropic foundation; think tank; or municipal, territorial or provincial government.
  • International postsecondary institution.

Postdoctoral researchers who are affiliated with a postsecondary institution are eligible to be co-directors or co-applicants.

PhD candidates are eligible to be co-directors or co-applicants under the same conditions as those described for an applicant.


Any individual who makes a significant contribution to the project is eligible to be a collaborator. Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.

Individuals from the private sector or federal government can participate only as collaborators.

Partner organizations

Partner organizations can be Canadian or international institutions or organizations (public, private, not-for-profit) of any type.

Multiple applications and holding multiple awards

See SSHRC’s regulations on multiple applications and holding multiple awards for more information.


Grant holders will be expected to report on the use of grant funds, on funded activities undertaken during the grant period, and on outcomes. Successful applicants will be informed of reporting requirements upon receiving their notice of award.

Application process

Applicants must complete the application form in accordance with accompanying instructions. Applications must be submitted electronically by an authorized research grants officer, or equivalent, from the applicant’s institution, or by a representative of the not-for-profit organization who has financial signing authority and is not participating in the project.

Only those applicants who are successful in Stage 1 will be invited to apply in Stage 2.

Applicants needing help while preparing their application should communicate with SSHRC well in advance of the application deadline.


Applications must show the following:

Quality and commitment of formal partnerships

If invited to submit a Stage 2, applicants should include relevant documentation to allow informed evaluation of the quality and level of commitment of the proposed formal partnerships.

Applicants must include evidence of formal partnership in their application. Evidence can include, but is not limited to:

  • governance frameworks;
  • agreements (intellectual property, conflict resolution, etc.);
  • strategic plans; and
  • other relevant documentation.

Institutional and partner organization contributions

Stage 1

In Stage 1, applicants include a proposed plan to secure, over and above the budget requested from SSHRC, a minimum of 35% in additional cash and/or in-kind contributions from sources other than SSHRC during the term of the grant (four to seven years). For example, if $1 million is requested from SSHRC, a minimum of $350,000 in additional contributions must be secured from partner organizations, bringing the actual total project budget to $1.35 million. SSHRC recognizes that the project can grow beyond the original planned amount as additional partner organizations become involved over the duration of the grant.

Stage 2

Applicants invited to submit a Stage 2 application must show that they have already started to confirm the 35% minimum additional cash and/or in-kind contributions and indicate how they will secure the remaining resources during the term of the grant. The host institution must submit reports documenting both their partner organizations’ engagement and their progress in meeting the requirements for partner organization contributions. By the mid-term evaluation (halfway through the grant period), the 35% minimum additional cash and/or in-kind contribution must be confirmed for the rest of the grant period. If this amount is not secured by that time, SSHRC will withhold the remaining grant payments until it receives confirmation that the minimum additional contributions have been secured.

For more information, see SSHRC’s Guidelines for Cash and In-Kind Contributions.

Merit review

Applications are reviewed, and available funds awarded, through a competitive merit review process. SSHRC bases funding decisions on the recommendations of the merit review committee and on the funds available. Committee discussions are guided by the principle of minimum essential funding.

A multidisciplinary merit review committee reviews applications for both Stage 1 and Stage 2. Committee members have relevant expertise from the academic community, as well as research expertise from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors.

Steps specific to each stage are as follows.

Stage 1

  • The merit review committee reviews the Stage 1 applications. Based on an assessment of relative merit, the committee provides SSHRC with funding recommendations.
  • Applications successful in Stage 1 are awarded a grant of up to $20,000 to help them prepare a Stage 2 application.

Stage 2

  • Expert review panels assess the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal using the evaluation criteria. The assessment of each proposal will be tailored to its nature and complexity. SSHRC will seek, but cannot guarantee, three to six experts to review and comment on each proposal. Whenever possible, panels of experts will review small groups of similar or related proposals. Written external reviews can be used where an expert review is not possible or where supplementary insights are needed.
  • The multidisciplinary merit review committee reviews the applications and reports from expert reviews, and, based on an assessment of relative merit, provides SSHRC with funding recommendations. The review process can involve an interview or a written response to the expert review. The merit review committee will be asked to ensure that the applications recommended for funding provide for a rich portfolio of investments of various sizes in the Research partnerships, Research training and talent development programs and across diverse fields and approaches to partnered research and related activities.

Indigenous research

SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research are relevant for researchers (applicants and project directors) and students preparing SSHRC applications related to Indigenous research. SSHRC provides these guidelines to merit reviewers to help build understanding of Indigenous research and research-related activities, and to assist committee members in interpreting SSHRC’s specific evaluation criteria in the context of Indigenous research. SSHRC relies on a community of merit reviewers with experience and expertise in Indigenous research to judge the extent to which the guidelines can be applied to a particular research proposal. The guidelines can also be useful to external assessors, postsecondary institutions and partner organizations that support Indigenous research.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) requirements have been introduced as part of a pilot initiative in the Partnership Grants funding opportunity. Applicants are required to consider both EDI in research practice (EDI-RP) and EDI in research design (EDI-RD):

  • EDI-RP involves promoting diversity in team composition and trainee recruitment; fostering an equitable, inclusive and accessible research work environment for team members and trainees; and highlighting diversity and equity in mentoring, training and access to development opportunities.
  • EDI-RD involves designing the research so that it takes EDI into account through approaches such as intersectionality, gender-based analysis plus, anti-racist approaches and disaggregated data collection, as well as analysis that includes consideration of diversity and identity factors such as, but not limited to, age, culture, disability, education, ethnicity, gender expression and gender identity, immigration and newcomer status, Indigenous identity, language, neurodiversity, parental status/responsibility, place of origin, religion, race, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

EDI-RP and EDI-RD will be evaluated as part of the Challenge and Feasibility evaluation criteria as outlined below. Applicants should embed consideration of EDI-RP and EDI-RD throughout the relevant sections of the application, as applicable.

For more information, see the Guide to Addressing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Considerations in Partnership Grant Applications.

Evaluation criteria and scoring

The following criteria and scoring scheme are used to evaluate the applications:

  1. Challenge—The aim and importance of the endeavour (40%):
    • originality, significance and expected contribution to knowledge;
    • appropriateness of the literature review;
    • appropriateness of the theoretical approach or framework;
    • appropriateness of the methods/approach (including the co-creation of knowledge);
    • appropriateness of considerations related to equity, diversity and inclusion in the research design, as applicable (e.g., questions, methods, theoretical framework, literature review, analysis and interpretation, and knowledge mobilization activities);
    • quality of training and mentoring to be provided to students, emerging scholars and other highly qualified personnel, as well as opportunities for them to contribute, and quality of equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in the recruitment, training and mentoring plan;
    • potential for the project results to have influence and impact within and/or beyond the social sciences and humanities research community; and
    • identification of progress indicators.
  2. Feasibility—The plan to achieve excellence (30%):
    • appropriateness of the proposed timeline and probability that the objectives will be met;
    • quality and genuineness of the formal partnership and associated management and governance arrangements and leadership, including involvement of partner organizations and others in the design and conduct of the research and/or related activities;
    • expertise of the team and appropriateness of partner organizations in relation to the proposed project;
    • quality of the equity, diversity and inclusion plan for promoting a diverse team, inclusive working environment and equitable opportunities within the partnership;
    • quality of the proposed contribution plan for leveraging of cash and in-kind support from the host institution and/or from partner organizations; and
    • quality and appropriateness of the knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable.
  3. Capability—The expertise to succeed (30%):
    • quality, quantity and significance of past experience and published and/or creative outputs of the project director and any co-directors or co-applicants, relative to their role in the partnership, and to the stage of their career;
    • evidence of other knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration / other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and the media) and of impacts on professional practice, social services and policies, etc.;
    • quality and quantity of past contributions to the training and mentoring of students, postdoctoral researchers and other highly qualified personnel; and
    • past experience in formal partnerships.

Scoring table

Merit review committee members assign a score for each of the three criteria above, based on the following scoring table. The appropriate weighting is then applied to arrive at a final score. Applications must receive a score of 3.0 or higher for each of the three criteria to be recommended for funding.

Score Descriptor
5-6 Very good to excellent
4-4.9 Good to very good
3-3.9 Satisfactory to good
Below 3 Unsatisfactory

Communication of results

SSHRC makes competition results available to applicants through the SSHRC Extranet for Applicants and institutions through the Grants and Scholarships Administration Portal.

In addition to SSHRC’s notice of decision, all applicants will be provided any external assessments received and a summary of the merit review committee’s evaluation of their proposal, where applicable.

Regulations, policies and related information

SSHRC reserves the right to determine the eligibility of applications, based on the information included. SSHRC also reserves the right to interpret the regulations and policies governing its funding opportunities.

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration.

Grant holders must also comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (see the Open Access overview for more information) and the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, which  replaced SSHRC’s Research Data Archiving policy for all active grants as of April 1, 2021.

Specific rules for the use of grant funds

  • Project co-ordinator/manager positions are an eligible expense, with three restrictions:
    • they cannot be a participant on the grant;
    • they cannot be paid for administrative services that the institution normally provides; and
    • they cannot be paid to conduct research activities.
  • Grant funds cannot be used to provide salaries or stipends to applicants, co-directors, co-applicants or collaborators, regardless of an individual’s eligibility to apply for grants.
  • Tri-Agency Grant funds cannot be used to remunerate team members (applicant, co-director, co-applicant or collaborator). This includes postdoctoral fellows serving in any of these capacities.
  • Grant funds cannot be used to provide salaries or stipends to the grantee or to other individuals whose status would make them eligible to apply for grants from the agency.
  • Course release time to allow an individual to engage in research is not an eligible expense .
  • Consultation fees are eligible for expert and/or professional and technical services that contribute directly to the proposed research, so long as the service is not provided by a team member or others eligible to apply for a SSHRC grant.
  • Expenses to facilitate equitable, inclusive and accessible participation in the research are eligible. Refer to the Statement on equity, diversity and inclusion and the use of grant funds in the Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration.

Guidelines and related support material

All applicants for SSHRC funding should consult the following guidelines while preparing their application:

Contact information

For more information, contact:

Toll-free: 1-855-275-2861

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