Education Partnerships Program: Structural Readiness Component: National Program Guidelines 2018-2019

Table of contents

1. Introduction

Established in 2008, the Education Partnerships Program (EPP) is a proposal-based program designed to promote collaboration among First Nations, provinces, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and other stakeholders to advance First Nation student achievement in First Nation and provincial schools.

The Program has two distinct components:

The purpose of this document is to describe the Structural Readiness component, eligible recipients and activities, and the proposal process. For the 2018-2019 funding cycle, the EPP - Structural Readiness Component can support activities that strengthen the organizational capacity of First Nation organizations, including:

2. Objective

Structural Readiness supports time-limited activities that build the capacity of First Nation organizations to deliver First Nation education services, and also activities to develop and implement transformative education systems and agreements (e.g. agreements that fully delegate responsibility for elementary and secondary education to a First Nation School Board).

3. Eligible Recipients

Band councils; organizations designated by a Band Council(s); and designated First Nation Regional Management Organizations who currently undertake, as a key function, elementary and secondary support for a defined group of band-operated schools are eligible to apply for funding.

Organizations designated by a Band Council(s) and First Nation Regional Management Organizations must meet the following minimum requirements for funding consideration:

Please note, entities such as Bands, First Nation Organizations, etc. that are delivering education services under a self-government arrangement are not eligible to apply to the Structural Readiness Component.

4. Broad Parameters

Structural Readiness supports activities that build the capacity of First Nation organizations to deliver First Nation education services as well as activities to develop and implement transformative education systems and agreements (e.g. agreements that fully delegate responsibility for elementary and secondary education to a First Nation School Board).

Priority Areas – All structural readiness activities must address one of the following priority areas:

  1. Activities that strengthen the organizational capacity and governance of First Nation organizations for the delivery of educational services to First Nation schools.
  2. Activities to support the establishment of a First Nation School Board that is fully delegated, by more than one community, the responsibility for all aspects of elementary and secondary education including the administration of multiple First Nation schools with a combined student population of at least 1,000 students. (Note: An exemption may be made where the combined First Nation school student population is less than 1,000 when the organization demonstrates sufficient capacity and economies of scale to enable the delivery of services to a standard comparable to that of a provincial school board).
  3. Activities to support the establishment of agreements with a provincial school board including new approaches to school management by First Nations and First Nation organizations; tuition/service agreements; or an agreement that fully delegates the administration of First Nation schools on-reserve by a provincial school board.
  4. Activities that directly respond to recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (e.g. changes to curriculum to include Indigenous perspectives and treaty education; or creating strategies with provincial school boards to preserve indigenous languages).

Multi-year funding – Applicants may submit a one-year or two-year proposal for SR activities. Organizations seeking multi-year funding should indicate how activities progress from year-to-year, including identification of results, data and evidence from previously supported activities and a description of how the proposed activities in future years are intended to build upon these results.

Funding will be approved on an annual basis, with future years of funding approved in principle and indicated as such in the decision letter for 2018-19. Successful program recipients must revise their proposals and work plans, as required, and resubmit them annually.

5. Eligible Activities and Expenditures

ISC is encouraging all program applicants submitting a proposal for Structural Readiness activities to include copies of their capacity development plan (e.g. EOPT) as an attachment to their proposal submission. Note: Priority may be given to proposals which include this supporting document, demonstrate the greatest need for developing Structural Readiness and work to address these needs identified through the self-assessment.

Education Organization Planning Tool (EOPT)

To assist applicants with "self-assessing" their organizational capacity, the Education Organization Planning Tool (EOPT) has been developed. The tool provides a step-by-step guide for organizations to complete their own assessment of the regional First Nation organizations' capacity to deliver education support and services for band-operated schools. Funding for the Education Organization Planning Tool (EOPT) also continues to be available to assist regional First Nation organizations to reflect on current priorities, map assets, assess needs, and to build an organizational capacity development plan.

The completion of a self-assessment using the EOPT tool is encouraged for those organizations who wish to seek funding for Structural Readiness activities through the EPP. However, if an organization has used other organizational capacity tools or has an education capacity development plan, these will also be accepted. For recipients who have completed the Education Organization Planning Tool, the results of the tool and/or Capacity Development Plans should be submitted as supporting documentation.

5.1 Eligible Activities

5.1.1 Strengthening Capacity for Governance and Leadership:

  • Developing processes for improving leadership attraction and selection (e.g., board and executive director selection codes, clear articulation of roles and responsibilities).
  • Establishing new governance structures related to the administration and management of direct school supports, programs and services.
  • Professional development to strengthen leadership skills of executive director, board members and other managers.
  • Leveraging provincial school board expertise to strengthen board governance practices.
  • Formalizing processes, policies, protocols and/or agreements for First Nation membership in the organization (e.g. membership codes, codes of conduct).
  • Developing formal agreements with individual First Nations that fully delegate responsibility for elementary/secondary education funding and services on reserve, including the operation and management of First Nation schools and management of tuition agreements, to an aggregate First Nation Education Authority.
  • Developing formal mechanisms to assess and support member schools capacity to efficiently and effectively deliver education programming.
  • Developing or formalizing board governance policies, processes, and mechanisms (e.g. for convening meetings, decision-making, conflict-resolution, conflict of interest, communication, ethics and fairness).
  • Developing processes for encouraging cultural consideration in policy-making and governance (e.g. involvement of Elders).
  • Developing strategies for classroom-based indigenous language instruction, in partnership with other communities and provincial school boards and Ministries.
  • Developing or formalizing dispute resolution measures and appeal mechanisms for member First Nations.
  • Developing or formalizing processes, policies, protocols or agreements with local provincial school boards/authorities (e.g. tuition agreements;; education standards to ensure the transferability of students between systems without academic penalty; protocols amongst partners relating to sharing of information and/or services, reasonable-cost access to education initiatives, performance measurement and reporting,; engagements on curriculum and programming).
  • Developing and negotiating agreements that fully delegate to a provincial school board or authority the responsibility for elementary or secondary education funding and services on reserve, including the operation and management of First Nation schools and management of tuition agreements.
  • Developing and negotiating agreements that fully delegate to First Nations or First Nations organizations the responsibility for operating and managing a provincial school.

5.1.2. Strengthening Capacity for External Relations:

  • Establishing external relations partnerships and strategies.
  • Developing a network with governments, non-governmental organizations and corporations.
  • Participating in education intergovernmental forums, committees, working groups.
  • Developing policies, processes and procedures for communications with the public, professional organizations, private and non-governmental sectors and other governments.
  • Developing mechanisms for participating in policy and program development.

5.1.3 Strengthening Capacity for Parental and Community Involvement:

  • Formalizing parental and community engagement policies and processes that allow First Nation schools and communities to participate in decision-making and that keep the community informed of decisions and changes to programs and policies.
  • Supporting engagement with First Nation communities on First Nation education transformation.

5.1.4 Strengthening Capacity for Planning, Performance, and Risk Management:

  • Developing processes or mechanisms for acquiring stakeholder input and support for organizational vision, mission, priorities and goals.
  • Developing new policies, systems and procedures.
  • Professional development for strategic planning, policy development and risk management.
  • Developing and implementing a risk management framework.
  • Conducting a self-assessment through the Education Organization Planning Tool or similar tool and developing an education capacity development plan.
  • Developing a long-term strategic plan which includes needs identified in the self-assessment process.
  • Establishing policies and procedures to administer, monitor, and report on the performance and delivery of school supports and services.
  • Developing an organizational performance/evaluation framework which links the delivery of school support services to student outcomes and school success.
  • Developing unique student identifiers with the provincial system to better track student needs, facilitate supports, and document graduation rates.
  • Purchases of education or research/reference products, tools or materials and training resources.

5.1.5 Strengthening Capacity for Financial Management:

  • Developing a financial management plan.
  • Developing and implementing processes to track financial transactions and monitor assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures.
  • Professional development for financial management.
  • Developing policies, procedures and processes for financial management (e.g. for the collection of revenues, development and distribution of audited financial statements, tendering/awarding of contracts).
  • Developing formal processes and procedures for allocating funding to First Nations in a fair and transparent manner.

5.1.6 Strengthening Capacity for Human Resource Management:

  • Establishing or formalizing human resources policies and processes for recruitment, screening (including volunteers), hiring, retaining, terminating, professional development and/ or compensation for personnel required to deliver education services.
  • Developing a human resources plan.
  • Professional development related to human resources management.
  • Training or professional development for staff.

5.1.7 Strengthening Capacity for Information Management and Technology:

  • Developing or improving business practices related to information management and information technology (e.g. data security, access to information and privacy policies, document management, and computer hardware and software).
  • Developing an Information Management and Information Technology management plan and policies.
  • Professional development related to Information Management and Information Technology.
  • Software purchases and licensing fees, and IT equipment purchases related to the implementation of organization's IT strategy, including repairs and maintenance related to school data systems.

Note: Proposals seeking information technology resources must be accompanied by a price quote and an information technology strategy/implementation plan that provides sufficient detail to show how the technology will work with and be implemented as part of a comprehensive technology strategy for the organization.

5.2 Eligible Expenditures

Eligible expenditures include:

  • Salaries and benefits for staff, including a Structural Readiness coordinator;
  • Travel and accommodations within Canada (see "Note for recipients" below);
  • Meeting costs – meeting rooms, audio-visual, hospitality, child care;
  • Communications with First Nations and education partners (e.g., Ministries of Education, Teacher's Associations, School Board Associations, etc.);
  • Professional/consulting fees and elder fees (indicating daily rate and duration of contract);
  • Legal advice (not including litigation);
  • Administration costs as outlined in Section 5.3.1 up to a maximum of 10 percent of total costs;
  • Costs associated with the implementation of joint agreements, protocols or strategies as they relate to First Nation schools (i.e., data-sharing protocols, preparation for students entering provincial schools and purchase of services directly linked to joint partnership plans);
  • Costs associated with the implementation of extending provincial initiatives/programs into First Nation schools;
  • Information technology set-up services, purchase of hardware/software, license fees, Professional development and training;
  • Purchase of learning and/or instructional materials;
  • Costs associated with establishing a First Nation School Board which will assume responsibility over elementary and secondary education on reserve, including the operation of schools and management of tuition agreements; and
  • Costs associated with developing agreements with provincial school boards to assume responsibility over elementary and secondary education on reserve, or for First Nations to assume responsibility over schools off reserve, including the operation of schools and management of tuition agreements costs.

Note for recipients: Travel expenses cannot exceed Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's guidelines as specified in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Travel Directive in effect at the time of travel. All travel and accommodations must be within Canada.

5.3 Ineligible Expenditures

Ineligible expenditures include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Provincial tuition;
  • Activities related to the negotiation and implementation of self-government agreements;
  • Infrastructure, planning, construction, operation or maintenance of federal and First Nation school facilities;
  • Any activity expenditure that would result in a duplication of funding (i.e. receipt of funding from more than one source for the same expenditures on an activity) including fees and services covered through tuition agreements;
  • Travel outside Canada; and
  • In addition, funding may not be used to support the acquisition or maintenance of equipment and supplies in provincial schools, or the provision of professional development to provincial staff. Federal funding is intended to primarily support services to elementary and secondary First Nation students ordinarily resident on reserve between the ages of 4 to 21 years attending schools on reserve. Provinces are expected to be primarily responsible for financially supporting joint activities directed to students in provincial schools.

5.3.1. Maximum Administration Costs

Eligible administration costs for Structural Readiness include only the actual costs associated directly with administering structural readiness projects and must not exceed 10% of total costs. The program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI) will automatically calculate the percentage based on the amount entered for administration.

Eligible administration costs include the following, but are not limited to:

  • Clerical support;
  • Administrative overhead (office space, equipment and supplies etc.);
  • The collection, maintenance, and reporting of data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting requirements; and
  • Costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal.

Note: Further distribution of funds by ISC's funding recipients: When a funding recipient transfers to a Third Party funds that were received under Education Partnerships Program, the 10% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to between the parties. The total administration expenditures by all parties must not exceed 10% of total costs.

5.3.2 Activities must be Time-limited

Structural Readiness does not provide core operational funding. Recipients are advised that program funding should not be relied upon as a source of ongoing revenue. Program funding is time-limited and may not be used to fund identical projects year-over-year with the same beneficiary. Continued funding is permitted in some cases, such as start-up costs of First Nation School Boards; piloting a new time-limited initiative; or, providing a professional development activity for new beneficiaries that have not previously attended the training. In such cases, it is recommended that applicants provide evidence of the success of the activity to date, and a rationale for continuing or expanding the activity.

Recipients and beneficiaries should not interpret funding for current year's activities as a guarantee that ISC will fund related activities planned for upcoming fiscal years.

5.3.3 Recipients under Default Management

Recipients in Default Management are encouraged to apply for Structural Readiness funding, for use in capacity development projects that will help them to complete their Management Action Plan. Program funds may not be used to support the core costs of Co-Managers or Third Party Managers.

5.3.4 No Duplication of Funding

Structural Readiness is not designed to duplicate activities funded by other programs or to supplement funding in other program areas. Activities that provide training, resources, and/or services that can be addressed under another specific ISC program are not eligible for funding. However, activities that relate to the development of new strategies or incremental costs associated with piloting innovative approaches to program or service delivery of existing programs may be eligible for funding on a time-limited basis.

6. Assessment Process and Criteria

Potential recipients must provide sufficient detail in proposals to support the assessment process by ISC. This is especially true of information on the activities planned, expected results and expense breakdowns. Insufficient detail will, at best, require revision and, at worst, may render the proposal ineligible for funding. If potential recipients have questions, they are encouraged to contact the appropriate program analyst. Further information may be obtained by contacting:

All proposals will be assessed nationally on their merits, in accordance with the following proposal assessment criteria:

7. Proposal Process

The annual Call for Proposals letter, which includes important proposal information, can be found on ISC's website in the Education Partnerships Program page.

Only proposals presented in an ISC electronic proposal form will be considered for assessment. Proposals must be submitted to the relevant ISC Regional Office. Refer to the proposal form and the attached instructions for application details. Incomplete proposals will not be considered and will be returned to applicants.

Previously, some general observations were made by the National Selection Committee that would make proposals stronger and more comprehensive, including:

Process Schedule
Call for Proposals launched by ISC Early October 2017
Deadline for submission of project proposal December 13, 2017
Proposal assessment December 2017 to March 2018
Announcement of successful proposals End of March 2018
Funding / Amending Agreements Prepared April 2018

8. Funding

Funding will be approved on an annual basis and provided in the form of a one-year contribution. Successful program recipients must revise their proposals as required and resubmit them annually. For information on funding approaches, visit the Transfer Payments page on ISC's website.

8.1 Funding approaches

Transfer payments to funding recipients can be made using Contribution funding of different types or using Grant funding, depending on the eligibility of the recipient and depending on the program, service or activity to be delivered. Your ISC regional officer can inform you about eligibility for these different funding approaches as well as of the delivery requirements related to each of them. The funding approach used to transfer the funds will be identified in the recipient’s signed funding agreement.

Consistent with the Government of Canada’s intention to provide additional flexibility to First Nation recipients to carry over funds, most funding approaches include, to different levels, carry over provisions and redirection of funds provisions. For details on the different levels of flexibility, see the Funding approaches page on ISC’s website.

9. Monitoring and Accountability

Funding recipients must deliver the programs in accordance with the provisions of their funding agreement and the program delivery requirements outlined in these National Program Guidelines while also ensuring that the necessary management controls are in place to manage funding and monitor activities. Funding recipients are required to exercise due diligence when approving expenditures and must ensure that such expenditures are in accordance with the eligible expenditures set out in these National Program Guidelines.

ISC is committed to providing assistance to recipients in order for them to effectively carry out obligations under these National Program Guidelines and funding agreements. Regional offices and other departmental contacts are available to answer questions and provide guidance related to ISC programs and funding.

To ensure that program delivery requirements are being met, that funds are expended on the intended purposes and that ISC's accountability to Parliament is being met, activities including audits, evaluations, as well as desk and on-site compliance reviews will be conducted with all funding recipients.

  • The Department's collection and use of personal information and other records for the purposes of program compliance reviews will be limited to what is necessary to ensure program delivery requirements are met.
  • The Department is responsible for all information and records in its possession. The confidentiality of the information will be managed by ISC in accordance with the Privacy Act and other related policies on privacy. Recipients are responsible for the protection of personal information per the privacy legislation, regulations and/or policies that govern them up to the point that it is transferred to ISC.

10. Reporting Requirements

The recipient will be responsible for ensuring that the report is completed and submitted to the ISC relevant regional office by, June 30, 2019.

The reporting requirements are listed in the recipient's funding agreement, and details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide. Recipients are responsible for ensuring that reporting requirements are met and reports are accurate and submitted on or before the established due dates. Recipients who have access to the ISC Services Portal can access the reporting forms (Data Collection Instruments) by opening a session on the Portal. If you do not have access to the Portal, contact your Regional Office.

11. Contact Information

For further program information, please visit the Education Partnerships Program page.

The regional offices coordinates can be found on the Regional Offices page.

You can also write to:

Education Branch
Regional Partnerships Directorate
Indigenous Services Canada
10 Wellington Street

These National Program Guidelines are available electronically on the Education National Program Guidelines page of ISC's website and through the View Instructions button on the first page of this program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI).


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