Canadian Grants to Protect & Nurture Early Brain Development

Deadline: 16 January 2014
Open to: non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, or other recognized institutions in low and middle-income countries according to the list on page 22 of the Request for Proposals
Grant: $250,000 CAD to $1 million CAD


As many as 200 million children fail to reach their full potential, and children in poverty have a higher chance of adversity that risks disrupting brain development. This is a devastating waste of human capital that leaves the next generation ill equipped to solve the enormous challenges that lock individuals, communities and societies in poverty.

The challenge is to develop and scale up products, services and policies that protect and nurture early brain development in a sustainable manner, thereby unlocking the potential of the next generation of children and providing their countries with an exit strategy from poverty.

To address this critical challenge, Grand Challenges Canada has developed the Saving Brains Program which promotes the fulfillment of human capital potential by focusing on interventions that nurture and protect early brain development in the first 1,000 days of life.

In this call for proposals, Grand Challenges Canada seeks bold ideas for products, services, policies, and implementation models that protect and nurture early brain development in a sustainable manner. Proposals must provide innovative solutions relevant to low-resource settings in low- or middle-income countries.

Please read the Frequently Asked Questions page HERE for more details.


Eligible applicants include individual non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, or other recognized institutions that are legally registered or incorporated in an eligible jurisdiction, as listed in Appendix A (page 22) of the Request for Proposals HERE, that can successfully execute the activities in their respective technical area and are capable of receiving and administering funding.

For the purposes of determining eligibility, Grand Challenges Canada may consider both the applicant’s home jurisdiction and any other jurisdiction within which grant project activities will take place.


The total funding available to support this competition is up to $6.8 million CAD. They expect to fund proposals through two funding streams: seed (up to $250,000 CAD) and transition-to-scale (up to $1 million CAD in matched funding).

They expect to fund proposals from eligible applicants affiliated with organizations in Canada or in eligible low- and middle-income countries. Projects must be implemented in low-resource settings in eligible low- and middle-income countries. There are two funding streams for applicants:

  1. Seed grants: support the development and validation of innovative ideas to protect and nurture early brain development, offering up to $250,000 CAD over a maximum of two (2) years. By the end of the grant, projects are expected to demonstrate proof of concept that the innovative idea is likely to have sustainable impact at scale, i.e., provide on-the-ground evidence of the impact it may have on an individual child and how it may be feasibly implemented in the target region. Please note that applicants in Brazil are eligible for seed grants only.
  2. Transition-to-scale grants: support the refinement, testing and implementation of innovative solutions that have already achieved proof of concept to bring them toward scale, offering up to $1 million CAD in matched funding over a maximum of three (3) years. Projects are expected to demonstrate real-world impact on early brain development with an approach that increases the intervention reach and has strong potential for sustainable impact at scale.


The proposal deadlines is 16 January 2014 at 11:59 p.m. ET. 

For a seed grant (up to $250,000 CAD), applicants will submit a proposal that describes their innovative idea, goal, objectives and activities, approach, framework for measuring success, and budget. Project leads from successful seed grant proposals may be invited to attend a Saving Brains Community meeting after notification of award and before finalization of grant agreement. If invited, the costs of attending the meeting will be covered by Grand Challenges Canada.

For a transition-to-scale grant (up to $1 million CAD of matched funds), applicants will submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) that describes their innovative solution, goal, objectives and activities, approach, framework for measuring success, potential partners who will contribute expertise and matching funds, and budget. Successful applicants at the LOI stage will be invited to submit a full proposal that expands upon these same components; instructions will be provided at the time of invitation.

Applicants are encouraged to access Grand Challenge Canada’s Online Proposal Development Resource HERE, which is updated regularly and contains material to help researchers and innovators around the world to develop their project proposals and to plan for how their innovation will go to scale, be sustained and have global impact.

You may start your proposal by visiting the registration website HERE. Please read the Request for Proposals HERE completely for full details.

Please submit queries to 

For further information, please see the official website HERE.

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