Have you ever wondered what happens to your grant application after you hit send? Read on to learn about the life cycle of your grant application.

Step 1: Application Intake

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After the applications are received, the program officer looks through each one to make sure they fit within the scope of the program guidelines. To check whether your project is eligible, check the program guidelines.

Step 2: Peer Assessment Committee Selection

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Once the applications have been reviewed, the program officer begins choosing the members of the peer assessment committee. Care is taken to ensure that the committee is diverse and reflects the disciplines and styles represented in the pool of applications. Where appropriate, culturally specific committees are used. For example, only Mi’kmaw artists serve on the peer assessment committee for the Mi’kmaq Arts program.

To ensure that we have new and different perspectives on our committees, peer assessors are generally only asked to serve once every two years.

When it’s not possible to find the appropriate peer assessors within Nova Scotia that are available, interested, and do not have a conflict of interest with any of the applicants, we recruit assessors from Atlantic Canada.

For more information on Peer Assessment Committees, see our Peer Assessor Information page.


Step 3: Peer Assessment Committee Reviews the Applications

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Once the peer assessment committee is confirmed, the peer assessors receive the applications. They are given four to five weeks to read them in detail ahead of the meeting. Assessors are asked to base their assessment solely on the content of the application materials and not on personal knowledge or outside research (i.e. google searching).

For their initial assessment, assessors are provided with a program-specific assessment tool to help them in scoring the applications.


Step 4: Peer Assessment Committee Meeting

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After their review period, the peer assessors get together to discuss the applications with the program officer facilitating and taking notes. Each application is given equal consideration and discussed amongst the peer assessors. Each program has different assessment criteria. These criteria can be found on the specific program pages.

After the discussions, the peer assessors are asked to score the applications. These scores are averaged, and the applications are placed in a list according to their average score. The peer assessors then determine their “line of recommendation” above which the projects are recommended for funding.

Approved projects are funded and receive a “Recommended” letter. The peer assessment committee may recommend additional projects, but if the project did not rank highly enough to receive a grant it will receive an “Insufficient Funds” letter. Applications below the “line of recommendation” receive a “Not Recommended” letter.   

All notification letters are sent to applicants via email.

Step 5: Grant results are released

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Applicants who receive a “Recommended” letter must sign a Terms and Conditions agreement and provide a final report 60 days after the end date of their project.

Applicants who receive an “Insufficient Funds” or “Not Recommended” letter can request notes from the peer assessment committee meeting in writing from the program officer.

In cases where an application is ineligible under the program guidelines, the applicant will receive an “Ineligible” letter.

All notification letters go out after the peer assessment committee has made their recommendations, regardless of eligibility.