What We Fund


Max Bell Foundation makes grants to support projects that are designed to inform public policy. We do so across four program areas: Education; Environment; Health & Wellness; and Civic Engagement and Democratic Institutions. Our priorities for each of these programs are described below.

Details about our approach to making grants, including the criteria we apply when assessing proposals, can be found under the Apply For Funding

Our focus is Canada. We support projects across Canada intended to inform public policy decisions made by any level of government within Canada.

Our working definition of public policy

Public policy refers to official decisions that guide the activities of governments at the local, municipal, provincial, or federal levels. Public policy decisions can be expressed as legislation, regulations, resolutions, by-laws, appropriations, court decisions, etc. Public policy refers not only to decisions, but also to the programs and administrative practices undertaken by governments.

Our Priorities

We support projects designed to inform public policy change that will in turn contribute to the following environmental and societal outcomes.

While not a criteria for support, we are particularly interested in opportunities to support projects related to any of the priorities listed below that also aim to improve the well-being of Indigenous individuals and communities.

Education Program Priorities

  1. Formal education settings in Canada enable success for all learners, especially those who face particular challenges or systemic barriers to success.
  2. The physical and mental health of learners is enhanced by their attendance at K-12 schools.
  3. Affordable high-quality early learning and child care is available to all Canadians.

Health and Wellness Program Priorities

  1. Supports and services leading to better mental health outcomes can be accessed by all Canadians, especially those who face particular challenges or systemic barriers.
  2. Health care systems, including long-term care, provide all Canadians with timely access to high-quality, cost-effective care.
  3. Canadians who may be vulnerable because of the social determinants of health can access supports and services that lead to improved health and wellness.

Environment Program Priorities

  1. Communities in Canada are better adapted to the effects of climate change.
  2. Canada has a low carbon economy.
  3. Canada conserves its biodiversity while promoting economic growth and development.

Civic Engagement & Democratic Institutions Priorities

  1. Canada’s democratic institutions are resilient and engage respectfully with civil society.
  2. Canadians, especially those who face barriers to engagement, are enabled and prepared for respectful civic engagement.
  3. The public information and media environments contribute to constructive civic engagement.

Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University

When he established the Foundation that bears his name, Max stipulated that 30% of all gifts the foundation ever makes will go to McGill University. Since 2015, those funds have supported the establishment and operation of the Max Bell School of Public Policy. While represented on the Advisory Board of the Max Bell School, the foundation has no governance role in relation to it.

Not within our mandate

We do not:

  • provide unrestricted or general program support (we support projects designed to inform public policy)
  • fund capital expenditures
  • provide emergency funds or deficit financing
  • fund endowments, awards, fellowships, internships, sabbaticals, scholarships, or bursaries
  • make grants to individuals, or any organization that is not a registered charity or qualified donee