Community Safety and Wellbeing Framework

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Join an upcoming Community Collaborative Event to be part of a new way forward!

Join an upcoming Community Collaborative Event to be part of a new way forward!

  • Applications now open for 2023 Upstream Fund

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    Funding applications are open again for grassroots organizations, groups, and individuals working on projects that create a more equitable community.

    The Upstream Fund, now in its second year, supports and prioritizes upstream initiatives led by and serving Indigenous, Black, racialized and other communities facing discrimination and systemic barriers. Funded projects improve wellbeing by removing barriers and providing support that allows people to achieve their full potential.

    The funding model also removes barriers for those who have historically, and continue to be, excluded from funding opportunities.

    “The Upstream Fund is about removing red tape and de-colonizing the way we work with community,” says Fauzia Baig, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Region of Waterloo. “We put decision-making and power into the hands of the community because they know best what they need to address root causes of harm.”

    A Community Change Committee comprised of community members will allocate the funding based on priorities identified by community.

    Last year, 41 recipients received funding to continue, expand, or continue work that focuses on healing, building confidence and skills, and developing a sense of belonging among children, youth and adults facing discrimination.

    The Region will once again pair the Upstream Fund with the Community Capacity Building Fund, offering a total of $1.5 million in 2023. (The remainder of the $4.1 million was allocated in 2022 to multi-year projects.) Applications will be accepted until May 15.

    Those interested in applying can attend a Community Collaborative Event virtually or in person. These events are opportunities to make connections, and learn more about other funding and grant programs available.

    In addition to funding, applications to join the Community Change Committee are open until April 17.

    More more information please visit our webpage.

  • Information about the 2023 Upstream Fund

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    Upstream Fund Applications Opening April 14

    Once again the Region of Waterloo is launching the Upstream Fund. This fund gives money directly to grassroots community initiatives that are working to address root causes of harm. All funding decisions are made by the community, for the community.

    Find out More

    2023 Community Collaborative Events

    Discover more about the Upstream Fund, Community Capacity Fund, and other local opportunities through our Collaborative Events. Join us virtually or in-person across the region to foster connections and co-create positive change.

    Register Now

    Join the Community Collaborative Committee

    Join a group of people dedicated to improving the wellbeing of everyone. The Community Change Committee helps to distribute the Upstream Fund to grassroots community initiatives that are helping to reduce harm in our community.

    Apply Now

  • 41 Community Organizations Receiving Upstream Funding to Improve Community Health and Wellbeing

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    Waterloo Region – A decision making process led by the community, for the community, is allocating $2.1M from the Region of Waterloo’s Upstream Fund and $2M from the Region’s Equity Community Capacity Building Fund. 41 organizations and groups will receive funds to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous, Black, racialized and other communities facing discrimination. 

    Investing in community safety and wellbeing has been an ongoing priority of Regional Council and the Upstream Fund was created to help address root causes affecting health and wellbeing. Together with the Equity Community Capacity Building Fund, those who are most impacted by systemic inequality are bring prioritized to remove barriers and improve safety and wellbeing across Waterloo Region.

    “We know that Waterloo Region is home to many leaders and organizations who work every day to create a more equitable community for all” said Regional Chair Karen Redman. “By investing in their work, we will be able to create a better community for everyone.”

     The Community Change Committee made up of 12 community leaders and residents reviewed applications from over 100 groups and organizations and allocated the funding, prioritizing grassroots organizations and groups that traditionally face barriers accessing traditional funding sources.

    “The phrase ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’ has been proven to be so true.” said Fauzia Wafai, Community Change Committee Member. “The involvement of the community members has made the process transparent which in turn will develop the trust of organizations and give them confidence to do even better.”

    Collectively, those receiving funding will undertake upstream and community capacity building around priorities such as Reconciliation, anti-hate, inclusive and safe spaces, employment skills, wellbeing, and system navigation.

    “The Upstream Fund has the potential to shift the balance of power in our Region, and begin to prevent harm before it happens” said Community Change Committee Member Pamela Fehr. “I was repeatedly amazed at the critical and creative work occurring in all corners of the Region… our diverse committee jumped wholeheartedly into the fray to determine together what is most needed to create a safe and healthy community for ALL.”


    With close to one million people expected to call Waterloo Region home by 2051, making the region safe and well for all takes a whole community approach. The Upstream Fund recognizes the value community led organizations and groups have in achieving this goal. 

    Investing in community-led change was a key call to action from community as part of the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan process. 

    The Upstream Fund is a new $2.1 million annual fund approved in December 2021 by Council as part of the 2022 Plan and Budget.

    Over the coming year, collaboration with the successful organizations will continue as the Region learns and share stories of their work and achievements – you can follow along with the process at Find the full list of recipients here.

  • Upstream fund application review has started!

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    Phase 1: Now complete!

    We are happy to say we have successfully completed the first phase of the Upstream funding model with the closing of the open call for submissions and the community collaborative events.

    Over 100 applications totalling almost $12 million for Year 1 were received with a mix of one time and multi year proposals. The depth and breath of submissions really reflect this community’s commitment for change.

    Phase 2: Community Change Committee and decision making in progress

    The Selection Committee has completed the critical task of carefully selecting a community group consisting of 12 diverse community members to form the Community Change Committee. The Selection Committee (for the Community Change Committee) went through a robust selection process led by Gillian Wells, a community facilitator. The group represents a diverse range of experiences, skills, and identities. The dedication of the members of the Selection Committee who selected the Community Change Committee was commendable. While the Community Change Committee has a large task ahead of them, they bring not only lived experience and community representation but also a diverse set of decision-making skills to the process. We look forward to the process ahead.

    See below for the bios of the members of the Selection Committee.

    • Cathy Harrington has worked for many years in both her personal and professional roles in a variety of leadership and front line roles within Waterloo Region focused on the health, safety and well-being of communities, particularly in rural communities. For the past 12 years, Cathy has served as the Executive Director of Community Care Concepts, a non-profit organization which provides services and supports to help seniors and adults with unique needs to live independently in their own homes across Woolwich, Wellesley and Wilmot Townships.
    • Charity (Anangkwe) Fleming is Anishinaabe, Sturgeon Clan from Northern Ontario. Charity is an alumnus from Wilfrid Laurier University and co-owner of Qualia Counselling Services, a series of mental health clinics that provides Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Charity is also faculty with Wilfrid Laurier University, McMaster School of Medicine and the Ontario Association of Social Workers. Charity considers her greatest accomplishments to be her journey of spirituality, her marriage, and her four incredible children.
    • Grace Ibrahima grew up in Trinidad, with very little formal education. As a young woman, she applied, and was accepted to a nursing program in England. Years after arriving in Canada, as a student in the Addiction Studies program at McMaster University, she was the recipient of the Part-time Student Centennial Award. She invested her monetary prize and partnered with the university to educate students from Eastern Europe about the devastating effects of addiction. Grace’s turbulent life journey was featured in many local media outlets.
    • Ismail Mohamed is a Community Developer/Facilitator, Social Entrepreneur and Public Speaker who has been an advocate for community building. Ismail has also sat on a number of committees and worked on projects that reach small businesses, youth, elderly, under-resourced neighbourhoods, marginalized groups, and people with disabilities, hearing their voices and working to meet their needs.
    • Jean Becker is Inuk, a grandmother, and a member of the Nunatsiavut Territory of Labrador. She has lived and worked in Southern Ontario for over 40 years. She is the AVP Indigenous Relations at the University of Waterloo and has worked in postsecondary education for more than 30 years.

    The Community Change Committee will meet from October 20 to November 15 to review funding applications. This group is also being facilitated by Gillian Wells and supported by Regional staff. The Community Change Committee will use the Council approved Upstream Fund Terms Of Reference and Community Safety Wellbeing Plan priorities to make funding allocations and decisions.

    A transparent, rigorous and accountable process will be followed. Decisions on applications will be communicated to applicants in late November. An update will be presented to Council in December.

    With thanks,

    Fauzia Baig

    Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusio

  • Applications for Upstream Fund Close on Friday September 23

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    As we approach the deadline for 2022 applications, we wanted to remind the community that part of breaking down barriers and shifting away from the status quo is embedded in the application process.

    You can apply online, by phone, via email, over coffee, in a DM, with a video... In fact nothing explicitly says that interpretive dances are off the table.

    The point is not to minimize the seriousness and importance of this work, but to remind you that the process for this fund is meant to be inclusive, so if you need support it is available.

    If you have any questions about the application process, would like a proofreader, or would just like to check in before you hit the submit button, please contact us by phone (Stephanie Duench - 226-750-6951) or email (Katie McDonald -

    For information on eligibility, including the Draft Terms of Reference, Visit our information page.

  • Applications Now Open for Upstream Fund

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    Learn more and apply for the Upstream Fund and other local funding opportunities.

  • Community Collaborative Events

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    Register now for Community Collaborative Events Series

    Bring your questions, big ideas, ongoing projects and interest in a more equitable community to the upcoming Community Collaborative Event Series. These events will enable you to connect with others who are working to create change in Waterloo Region to improve the health and wellbeing of our community with a focus on Truth and Reconciliation, anti-racism, and other areas of equity and inclusion.

    At these events, community members will be able to come together to collaborate, share resources and to learn more about the diversity of work happening in the community. They are also an opportunity to hear more about funding programs available to you including the Upstream Fund, Waterloo Region Racial Equity Fund, ROW Equity Fund, and the Immigration Partnership Fund for Immigrant Economic Wellbeing.

    Upcoming Dates
    Between August and September, several virtual events and in-person events will be held at community locations across the Region
    How to Register

    You can register to attend one (or more) of the events by following the registration link below. We are asking a few questions at registration to help us effectively plan for these events.

    Telephone: If you would like to register via phone, please contact Stephanie Duench at 226-750-6951

    Email: If you have any questions about the registration or need support, you can contact Katie McDonald at

    We are committed to helping with all accessibility requests, including language translation.

    The full application for the Upstream Fund will be available by Aug 10 (stay tuned for more information)

    These collaborative events mark an incredible step forward in our Region – this community driven approach will provide resources, collaboration and partnerships that will enable groups across our community to come together to effect positive change and reduce inequities.

    This work will be led by the community, for the community.
  • Update May 13, 2022: Upstream Fund and Mental Health

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    Upstream Fund - A New Opportunity for Action

    Thank you for all your contributions to the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan (CSWP) so far! We heard from many of you how important it is to stay in touch and build on the new relationships created during the engagement sessions. We are reaching out to you as part of that commitment and to work together to implement the many actions and suggestions that came forward.

    We heard many times in the engagement sessions how important community organizations and groups are in creating a safe and well region. We also heard that they need more support. We hope a brand new Council approved fund, called the Upstream Fund, will help with this and support the community to grow their efforts. The $2.1 million annual fund will support community driven action that aligns with the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan. This will support a variety of action including Truth and Reconciliation, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and improving the Social Determinants of health for all.

    In the spirit of collaboration, throughout the month of May, we are inviting you to be a part of a community conversation that will inform the decision-making on how the fund will work. If you are interested in hosting a conversation or participating in one held by a community group (to be determined) or the Region (Thursday, May 19, 6-7:30pm or Thursday, May 26, 2:30-4pm), please let us know by filling in your contact information. In addition, you share your ideas now by filling in this survey found below by June 30th, 2022 (EXTENDED).

    Mental Health Update

    Another key area of concern that came up across community engagement conversations for the CSWBP, was the need for alternative mental health crisis response in Waterloo region. The Region is committed to supporting partners in exploring an alternative mental health & addiction crisis response model for the community. We are partnering with mental health providers to engage in conversations as part of a co-design approach to developing this model. If you are interested in being a part of this process, please let us know by contacting Fanis Juma at

Page last updated: 21 Apr 2023, 10:04 AM