About the project

The Embracing Inclusion Project is one of a handful of partnership initiatives working to advance diversity and inclusion in the non-profit sector. Creating diverse and inclusive organizations requires time, resources, energy, commitment and tenacity. Embarking on inclusive organizational change requires a proactive approach that includes formal and informal methods to help make it happen. By participating in this project, committed non-profits will develop strategies, gain tools and identify resources to advance diversity and inclusion within their organizations.

Diversity refers to the variety of differences among people. People exist across a number of dimensions which include but are limited to race, ethnicity, cultural traditions, age, gender, religions, place of origin, citizenship, sexual orientationinfo-icon, mental or physical ability, education, income status, marital, parental or family status.

An inclusive organization not only recognizes diversity it embraces it. An inclusive organization understands, accepts and respects diversity.

Embracing Inclusion

The Embracing Inclusion Project will engage over 80 nonprofit community service organizations from across Ontario in advancing diversity and inclusion. Each participating organization will acquire training, tools and resources to aid in the development of strategies to undertake inclusive organizational change in the areas of Governance, Leadership, Human Resources and Volunteer Management.

Successful applicants will have a dedicated leadership, board support and solid commitment to move the organization from acknowledging the value of diversity and inclusion to embedding this idea into their structure, policies and practices.

The Embracing Inclusion project may be an important opportunity for your organization!

Consider the following questions:

  • Would your nonprofit benefit from inclusive organizational change in any of the four key areas of Governance, Leadership, Human Resources and Volunteer Management?

  • Is your nonprofit organization interested in increasing its capacity to be more inclusive in its structures, policies and practice?

  • Would an analysis of existing policies and practices help identify barriers and building blocks to diversity and inclusion in your organization?

  • Is your organization already working to advance diversity and inclusion, and looking for new tools, resources and strategies to assist with the process?

Helping nonprofits advance equity, diversity and inclusion


Recent studies on the value of diversity and inclusion in the nonprofit sector highlight 4 key benefits to organizations that fully embrace inclusion:

  1. Employees and volunteers are more engaged leading to increased retention, lower turnover costs and higher levels of productivity.

  2. Organizations that are more reflective of the community voice have enhanced decision making to help guide board strategic direction contributing to more effective governance.

  3. Inclusion increases the economic resilience of the organization by cultivating new donor communities and fundraising opportunities.

  4. Enhanced innovation and services through the diversity of thought in turn leads to diversity of problem solving, innovation and creativity. 


The project will engage nonprofits throughout Ontario who are committed to advancing inclusion within their organizations and within the sector. The goal of Embracing Inclusion is to provide focused resources to assist organizations in significantly advancing their policies and practices in Governance, Leadership Development, Human Resources and Volunteer Management. Participants will identify and adopt strategic commitments for improving inclusionary practices and implement concrete initiatives in this area.


1. Assessment and Application: Interested organizations will be asked to submit Expressions of Interest including a readiness assessment to be used as a basis for selection.

2. Inclusion Institutes: Selected agencies will participate in Inclusion Institutes in their region. The Institutes are 1.5-day offsite events, each engaging up to 12 committed community service organizations. Participants will be required to attend with a team of two to three organizational representatives, including an ED or Senior Manager and ideally one Board Member. The Institutes will enable organizations to develop concrete plans towards developing a customized organizational change strategy for embracing inclusion.

3. Ongoing Learning and Follow-Up Supports: Webinars and individualized coaching over eight months will enable groups to identify local opportunities, address capacity issues, and finalize strategic plans for organizational change towards diversity and inclusion.

4. Regional Peer Practitioner Network:  Regional participants will support each other through the development of mutually reinforcing networks to facilitate sharing of resources and support of their common goals.

When and Where?

There will be 2 sets of 4 regional Inclusion Institutes held across Ontario. Inclusion Institutes will be held in November 2015 and June 2016. Participants will be selected in each region based on the location of the applicant organization.

In June 2016 Inclusion Institutes will be held in Barrie, London, Ottawa and Thunder Bay. A French session has been added for 2016.


Up to 12 organizations will be selected to attend each Institute. Once registration is full, applicants will be placed on a waiting list. Wait listed registrants will be given priority should any spots become available.


Participants are encouraged to select the institute being held in the region their organization is located in. An objective of the project is to build Regional support networks of nonprofit diversity champions, who recognize and understand the unique characteristics of each region. In the event that the institute in your region is full you may be offered to attend a session in another region.

2016 Institutes

May 31-June 1 Ottawa FRENCH

June 02/03 Ottawa

June 06/07 London

June 16/17 Barrie

June 23/24 Thunder Bay

Screening of the Expression of Interest submissions will be done in early April 2016 and groups will be notified by May 2, 2016.

Criteria include: 1.) A readiness assessment demonstrates levels of organizational diversity and inclusion. 2.) Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion and clear understanding of the work to be done. 3.) A strategic plan or evidence of direction for inclusive organizational change approved by the board and senior management. 4.) A mix of nonprofits from a variety of regions, nonprofit sectors and levels of organizational diversity.

The information on the application form, Expression of Interest and related attachments will be held in strictest confidence by the Embracing Inclusion project team and the screening panel. None of the information provided will be shared with other parties without the express permission of the providing organization or at their own initiative.

Completion of the self-assessment will help establish a baseline and assess organizational readiness for advancing equity, diversity and inclusion. Upon completion, groups may re-assess their situation to identify progress and set new change priorities.

This will ensure leadership and organization support to the process and demonstrate commitment to implementing concrete initiatives and change strategies.

There is no cost for participating in the Institutes. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses. Overnight accommodation will be arranged by ONESTEP for those traveling more than 1 hour to the Institute venue in their region.