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Free to Grow Guidelines & Eligibility

The Children’s Foundation Free to Grow Program provides financial support for children and youth in need so that they can participate in recreational activities such as sports, the arts, and camps and life-skill development opportunities such as babysitting classes, driver's training, and tutoring. These activities:

  • develop their talents, interests, and passions;
  • enhance their personal growth and development;
  • build their self-worth and confidence;
  • foster the skills they need to reach their full potential;
  • are beneficial to their physical, social, emotional and mental health and well-being.

In addition, Free to Grow now funds individual mental health counselling for children and youth in partnership with Five Star Relationships and through referral from CMHA-WW. Families should visit CMHA's Here 24/7, a full care system for those with addictions, mental health or developmental needs.

With the support of our donors and program partners, our goal is to help as many children from low-income families as possible through a centralized system that is easily accessible for families.  Maximum subsidy per child, per calendar year is $400 - on a first-come, first-serve basis and provided funds are available.

Who is Eligible for Funding

  1. Children from birth through 18 years of age (must be 18 years at time of application).
  2. Children who live in Guelph or Wellington County.
  3. Families must provide documentation to show your family size and income. Click here to see what is required.
  4. Families with incomes below the following household income levels (based on Line 236 - net adjusted income).
Family Size: adult(s) + child(ren) Income Level
1 person (e.g. independent youth) $25,303
2 people (1 parent + 1 child) $31,498
3 people $38,723
4 people $47,016
5 people $53,232
6 people $60,142
7+ people $66,958

 Income levels based on Stats Canada LICO figures - last updated 2022 stats year.


 How To Set Up An Account


Eligible Activities

Funds are available for the recreational activity or life-skill development opportunity of the child’s choice, provided it is an extracurricular activity a young person does in their free time. This includes (but is not limited) to the examples below. Please contact us if you have a question about whether an activity would be eligible for funding.

Physical Activities:

  • Sports such as soccer, hockey, baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, ringette, volleyball
  • Swimming lessons
  • Gymnastics, Acro
  • Cheerleading & Baton
  • Martial Arts and Boxing
  • Equestrian lessons
  • Skating and Figure Skating
  • Skiing and Snowboarding
  • Archery, Fencing and Axe Throwing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Tennis and Golf lessons
  • Gym/Fitness memberships
  • Yoga

The Arts:

  • Dance classes
  • Music and vocal lessons, youth choirs
  • Performance arts such as drama, comedy classes, puppetry, circus
  • Visual arts such as drawing, cartooning, pottery and sculpture, photography
  • Handwork arts such as knitting, sewing, fashion design, weaving, woodworking, jewellery making, blacksmithing


  • PD Day
  • March Break
  • Summer Camps (day and overnight)


  • After-school recreational clubs
  • Scouts, Cubs, Guides, Brownies, Sparks
  • Chess
  • Book/Literature and Writing

Skills & Training:

  • Babysitting and Home Alone courses
  • Cooking classes
  • CPR and First Aid courses
  • Driver’s Ed training (course fees are eligible but driver's test fee is not eligible)
  • Language classes (including sign-language)
  • Leadership and Leadership-in-Training programs
  • Lifeguard classes
  • Military programs such as cadets
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
  • Tutoring (with registered businesses)


  • Parent & Tot Programs such as swimming, music & movement, yoga
  • Yoga and meditation classes
  • Volunteer, Community and Civic Engagement programs
  • Art, Music, and Sport/Recreational Therapy programs


The following are not currently eligible for funding:

Where provided, please check links to organizations that may be able to help with these costs.

  • Therapy - while we now do cover art, music, and sports/recreational therapy programs, for additional help with communication, social, physical, and behavioural therapies, you can contact:
  • Equipment or Uniforms
  • School programs (including pre-school), School Trips, or Alternative School Programs that take place during school hours. 
  • Fundraising Fees charged by recreational organizations
  • Online subscription services or apps.
  • Activities that have already taken place. We can only fund activities that are upcoming or currently happening.