Request for Proposals: Two-year program evaluation – Community Counselling Fund Evaluation


Total available budget: $75,000
Timeline: December 1st, 2023 – April 30th, 2024 (year 1); May 1st, 2024 – April 30th, 2025 (year 2)
Deliverables and selection criteria: See below
Proposals due: Friday, November 3rd, 2023 at 5pm
Contact: Adrienne Yeung, Community Grants Manager, [email protected]


About CAI

Community Action Initiative (CAI) provides grant and training opportunities for community-based organizations across BC to develop and deliver innovative projects that respond to the needs of individuals and families experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges.

Since 2010, CAI has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (MMHA) to support the community-based mental health and substance use sector through local, regional and provincial grant, training and capacity-building opportunities.

About the Community Counselling Fund

The objective of the Community Counselling Fund (CCF) is to expand access to quality, affordable counselling located in community-based organizations throughout British Columbia. This funding opportunity, in partnership with MMHA and MOH, focuses on community counselling for adults in relation to mental health and/or substance use, with the goal of reaching underserved or hard to reach populations that do not have access to counselling opportunities. This fund supports projects delivered by non-government, not-for-profit, community-based organizations and First Nations, Metis or Urban Aboriginal organizations in community-based settings, rather than through hospitals or health-authority hosted programs.

In 2019, 29 organizations received up to $120,000 in annual funding for 3 years. A further 20 organizations that had applied received short-term funding of $50,000 a few months later through the COVID-19 Surge fund, which was intended to help organizations scale up their virtual mental health care services. Both sets of organizations (totalling 49) have now been combined into the Community Counselling Fund and are operating with the same funding and timeline. The grant fund has been renewed several times and is in its second multi-year cycle with most of the same grantee organizations.  The first cycle of the Community Counselling Fund ran from November 1st, 2019 – October 31st, 2022. It was extended until March 31st, 2023. The second cycle funds projects beginning April 1st, 2023 and ending March 31st, 2025. Most of the projects are continuing the work they have done through this grant for the past three years, although some have pivoted to address emergent needs in their communities.

Grant Funding Priorities. The CCF is expected to:

  • Increase the number of people from equity-seeking groups accessing community-based counselling
  • Increase the quality of community-based counselling delivered through non-profit, grassroots and/or volunteer-run programs
  • Improve mental health and substance use outcomes

MMHA priorities for this project are:

  • Significant expansion and improvement in access to counselling for underserved populations
  • An equitable distribution of grants awarded across the province
  • Capacity building for sustainability and predictability within the community-based system
  • Improvement in timely access to support

Expected Outcomes (MMHA)

An increase in the:

  • Number of qualified paid and volunteer staff providing counselling services
  • Availability and quality of clinical supervision
  • Sustainability of this community-based service
  • Number of people served by community-based organizations

A reduction in the:

  • Use of acute and crisis-oriented services, like the emergency department
  • Length of waitlists for counselling services

The Evaluation

Purpose of the Evaluation

A previous evaluation of the CCF was conducted between 2019 and 2022. We envision this current evaluation being more tailored to the needs of CAI, community organizations and MMHA – making clear connections to each stakeholder’s goals and generating data that helps CAI advocate for systems-level changes. We want to gain insight into how a publicly funded system of community-based counselling enhances services provided to underserved, marginalized, and hard to reach (“equity-denied”) populations. We want to focus on the following:

  1. The value of community-based entry points in the delivery of MHSU services, particularly for clients who cannot or do not access mainstream services;
  2. The breadth and quality of counselling services provided in community settings;
  3. Mapping blockages and facilitators to access within the continuum of mental health care (i.e. referrals from primary care, outreach), and highlighting opportunities for systems change;
  4. CAI’s approach to grantmaking, and its impact on grantees.

How the Evaluation will be Used

Evaluation findings will help inform the viability and sustainability of future government investments in community-based counselling services. We intend to use the findings to uplift and advocate for the ongoing work of community-based organizations, as we believe that they are at the forefront of sector-wide changes to how counselling therapy is delivered. We also intend to use the findings to improve our grantmaking processes.

The evaluator will work with CAI to develop a knowledge mobilization strategy that ensures grantee organizations, MMHA, and the broader mental health and substance use sector are made aware of findings, recommendations, and promising best practices.

Approach to the Evaluation, Principles and Values

This evaluation will be grounded in equity and participatory focused approaches.


  • The evaluation will describe contexts, including 1) the structural and historical factors that have impacted the ability of the community sector to provide counselling services to underserved populations and 2) the cultural context of the demographic of clients accessing these services, and the effect of community-based counselling on them
  • The evaluation will work to embody cultural humility and promote safety for people with lived and living experience who inform evaluation design, conduct and findings.
  • It is important that a diverse sample of communities, health regions, organizations, programs, and clients are well represented in evaluation questions, data, findings and results.


  • Key to this approach is engagement in the evaluation process of service providers, clinical supervisors and people who have accessed community-based counselling services or who may have benefitted from such services at some point in their recovery journey (people with lived and living experience).
  • PWLLE will be supported throughout the process to ensure they are fairly compensated for their participation.
  • Grantee organizations will be engaged in the creation of the evaluation design, tool development, and review of analyzed data. They will also be asked to provide feedback on public facing materials and reports.

The evaluation process and content will also be aligned with CAI’s goals for grantmaking. CAI strives to:

  • build equity in communities by making grant processes accessible, especially for groups that experience exclusion;
  • be transparent and consistent with our granting processes;
  • ensure sound stewardship of resources and accountability for impact;
  • inform grantmaking by pursuing strategies using all types of evidence, including historical context, traditional knowledge and the voices of community;
  • offer grants that promote diverse and culturally safe organizations, service providers, and volunteers;
  • engage individuals and families with lived and living experience across the lifespan;
  • be aware of and responsive to community needs, including flexibility with grantees’ project timelines, scope and deliverables, as they may change due to unforeseen circumstances

Evaluation Questions 

CAI collects metrics and outputs data on each grantee’s project every quarter. Beyond this quantitative data, these are the questions we are hoping this evaluation can answer:

  1. Has the CCF been effective in helping equity-denied populations meet their mental health needs?
  2. What mental health gaps have been filled by this funding?
  3. What mental health gaps remain despite this funding? Or, how well-aligned are the parameters of the CCF with community needs?
  4. What is the impact of having these additional entry points for people to access counselling outside of the ER or primary care?
  5. What is the current role of the community sector in supporting mental health needs? Describe the relationship between the formal system (ER, primary care) and the community sector, and how the community sector could be best supported?
  6. What is it like for community-based organizations to work with CAI, and how did CAI’s approach facilitate their work?
  7. We provide funding for empowering and sustaining the community workforce. What is the value add of this work and how could it be expanded to other CAI programs?



Project Year 1
April 1st, 2023 – March 31st, 2024
Evaluation Year 1 
December 1st, 2023 – April 30th, 2024

Project Year 2
April 1st, 2024 – March 31st, 2025
Evaluation Year 2
May 1st, 2024 – April 30th, 2025

Data Collection Methods 

Data for the evaluation will be collected through two main sources. Data review and interview/survey protocol will be guided by the evaluation questions.

Document Review. A comprehensive review of internal CAI documents, including previous evaluation reports, grant applications, reports, and other documents supplied by the CAI team.

Interviews/Focus Groups. Interviews or small focus groups will be conducted with grantees and the CAI team.

Surveys. Surveys will be conducted with grantees.


This is a preliminary set of deliverables which may evolve in consultation with the evaluator in response to initial and interim findings.

Year 1:

  • Evaluation framework and related data collection tools
  • Year 1 report (April-May 2024)
  • Knowledge mobilization processes (webinar, knowledge exchange facilitated session)
  • Knowledge Mobilization products

Year 2:

  • Final report and recommendations (April 2025)
  • Knowledge Translation processes (webinar, knowledge exchange facilitated session)
  • Knowledge Mobilization products

Additional Details

To Apply

To apply, submit a ~3 page proposal by email to Adrienne Yeung, Community Grants Manager, at [email protected]. Please include an explanation of how you meet the following requirements, your plan for the evaluation, as well as a budget for use of funds. If we accept your proposal, we will let you know by email  and send you a contract for signing.

Selection Criteria: Mandatory Requirements

Candidates must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Experience leading evaluation projects in partnership with community agencies and/or people with lived and living experience of mental health and or substance use challenges
  • Knowledge of health care service delivery in BC
  • Knowledge of community- based non-profits in BC
  • An ability to work from a trauma-informed perspective that anticipates and avoids potential harms to PWLLE, clients and community stakeholders

Proposals must demonstrate:

  • Attention to structural and systemic challenges existing within BC’s community-based mental health and substance use sector
  • Steps taken to ensure cultural humility and cultural safety are present when developing relationships with Indigenous stakeholders
  • Steps taken to ensure that a diverse set of counselling programs and underserved demographic groups are represented
  • Specifics of decolonized evaluation design and methodology
  • Specifics of an equity-focused approach in evaluation design that is inclusive of PWLLE
  • Elements of knowledge mobilization embedded throughout process
  • A feasible strategy based on timeline and resources available

Not required, but considered an asset

  • Candidates with relevant lived and living experience
  • Candidates who have a background in social work or related discipline