Education Partnerships Program: Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement components: National Program Guidelines 2019-2020

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. It aims to advance First Nations student achievement in First Nations and provincial schools.

The program has two distinct components that can be used for the purposes of this call for proposals:

  1. Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement: The first component of the EPP supports the establishment and the advancement of formal tripartite partnership arrangements. These partnership arrangements aim to share expertise and resources, and assist in the development of practical working relationships between First Nations and provincial officials and educators, to ensure supports are in place for all First Nations students. These arrangements also open the way to better coordination and transition between First Nations and provincial systems. The result will be concrete benefits for the students, teachers and administrators involved, which should lead to improved educational outcomes for First Nations students.

  2. Structural Readiness: The second component of the EPP supports capacity and governance development under the heading of Structural Readiness. These activities build the capacity of First Nations organizations to strengthen their organization, to cover start-up costs for First Nations school boards, and to support the conclusion of agreements to allow for the operation of on-reserve schools by provincial school boards. For eligible recipients that are interested in applying to the Structural Readiness component of EPP, please refer to the "Education Partnerships Program – Structural Readiness component: National Program Guidelines 2019-2020".

While both the Partnership and the Structural Readiness components of EPP use the same proposal template, each component has different eligibility criteria and guidelines, and must be accessed via a separate proposal. Recipient eligibility for Structural Readiness is not dependent on having a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Although the EPP was set to expire on March 31, 2020, a process is underway to ensure the sustainability of the program beyond 2020.

A third component, Regional Implementation is being contemplated, based on the policy proposal that was recently co-developed with First Nations. It aims to fundamentally improve the way ISC funds elementary and secondary education, while supporting regional and local diversity and implementing the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education. The new component will provide support for:

This new component will use the EPP Data Collection Instrument; however, Regional Implementation is not part of the current EPP calls for proposals.

More information on the new Regional Implementation component will be available on the EPP web page by the spring of 2019. This will include details on the application process, eligibility criteria and guidelines. Until then, for further information about opportunities to participate in information sessions, technical tables, or other activities supporting regional implementation of the new policy framework, please contact your ISC regional office.

2. Objective

The overall objective of the EPP is to advance First Nations elementary and secondary student achievement in both First Nations and provincial schools.

3. Funding recipients

A "funding recipient" means an individual or entity that has met the eligibility criteria of the program, and has signed a funding agreement with ISC to deliver an initiative (program, service, or activity).

4. Program recipients

Eligible recipients

Eligible regional First Nations organizations must meet the following criteria:

  • be provincially or federally incorporated
  • have a documented management framework (such as policies, by-laws) outlining the organization's governance structure and procedures
  • have documented support from First Nations, communities or schools (for example, band or tribal council resolution, or other documentation such as formal letters of support)
  • have documented and publicly available policy guidelines
  • demonstrate economies of scale
  • organizational structure including an Executive Director or equivalent, Finance Officer and a Board of Directors or equivalent
  • undertake, as a key function, elementary and secondary education support for groups of First Nations communities or schools
  • be in a sound financial position
  • agree to produce publicly available annual reports on education partnership projects and expenditures
  • if new, replace an existing organization or an amalgamation of existing organizations

Regional First Nations organizations can also manage partnership funding or coordinate partnership initiatives for independent, non-member First Nations, if these independent First Nations agree to such an arrangement. Organizations will be required to provide a signed written statement from each non-member First Nation saying that they agree to have EPP funding administered and managed by the organization on their behalf.

Regional First Nations organizations cannot act only as a flow-through to member or non-member organizations under this program. They cannot issue calls for proposals to member or non-member organizations for activities funded through this program.

5. Activities

Broad parameters

The EPP supports two streams of partnership activities, Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement:

  • Partnership Establishment: activities supporting the establishment of partnership agreements and joint work plans between First Nations, provinces and ISC that identify the shared priorities that the parties are committed to working on together to improve First Nations student achievement.

  • Partnership Advancement: activities supporting collaborative and time-limited initiatives and activities aimed at improving First Nations student achievement, in both First Nations and provincial schools. Activities should be identified within a joint work plan.

Priority areas: all partnership activities must focus on one or more of the following:

  • activities to support the establishment and advancement of agreements with provinces and provincial school boards to improve student outcomes; this through improved programs and services, sharing expertise, and improving coordination between First Nations and provincial schools to ensure smooth transitions

  • activities that directly respond to recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action with respect to education (for example, changes to curriculum to include Indigenous perspectives and treaty education; or creating strategies with provincial school boards to preserve Indigenous languages)

  • activities that lead to the development of new approaches to tuition and education services and delivery agreements

  • activities for creating better linkages between elementary and secondary education on reserve and early childhood programs, and/or labour market training programs, through partnerships involving other federal and provincial departments.

Membership in the partnership: partnerships will include a minimum of one regional First Nations organization, the provincial Ministry of Education (or provincial school board) and ISC. At this level, partnerships can maximize opportunities for coordination and cost-efficiency. Other stakeholders may also participate in the partnerships. For example, these stakeholders could include other federal and provincial government departments and private sector organizations. For the purposes of the partnership, a regional First Nations organization can manage partnership funding or the coordination of partnership activities for independent, non-member First Nations, if these independent First Nations agree to this arrangement.

Roles and responsibilities: all partners share a common interest and responsibility for identifying ways to support the success of First Nations students and participate in the activities. All partners will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the partnership and its activities. In many partnerships, provincial school boards, districts or divisions will also play a role in the implementation of joint partnership plans.

Letters of support: proposals must provide evidence of support from the regional First Nations organization and the province (or provincial school board where applicable). Provincial support letters may be provided by director-level or higher officials, preferably from the Ministry of Education.

Federal funding: federal funding of approved proposals submitted under the Partnership Establishment or Partnership Advancement components of the EPP is provided to regional First Nations organizations to support their participation in tripartite partnerships, and to support joint initiatives directed to First Nations students. Federal funding is intended to primarily support services to elementary and secondary First Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve between the ages of 4 to 21 years and attending schools on reserve. Provinces are expected to be primarily responsible for financially supporting joint activities directed to students in provincial schools, through a joint action plan. The regional First Nations organization may choose to purchase required services from a provincial government.

Single-year funding for 2019-2020–applicants may only submit a one-year proposal for 2019-20 for EPP activities.

Organizations that submitted a two-year EPP proposal in 2018-19 must re-submit an EPP proposal in 2019-20 using the 2019-20 Data Collection Instrument. The 2019-20 EPP proposal may include the same activities as originally submitted in 2018-19, or may incorporate new or updated activities.

6. Expenditures

Eligible activities and expenditures

EPP funding is provided to support time-limited eligible activities and expenditures related to Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement only where the partnership meets the following basic criteria:

  • all partners share a common goal and work in collaboration to improve First Nations student achievement in First Nations and provincial schools
  • the partnership involves educators and education specialists in First Nations schools and organizations, or in the provincial system
  • the partnership is focused on one or more of the priority areas of the program as described in section 5
  • all partners agree to report on the results of the partnership to member communities
  • all partners contribute financially or in-kind (First Nations contributions can be funded in whole or in part through the ISC EPP)
  • all partners commit to practical measures to improve outcomes

6.1 Partnership establishment

The program may provide funding to support Partnership Establishment activities such as the negotiation and drafting of a MOU between a regional First Nations organization, the provincial Ministry of Education or ISC (where a MOU does not exist), and any necessary consultations with communities. Proposals can be submitted for one year only, and funding will be approved and provided for one year only. All partners will be required to sign the tripartite partnership agreement (MOU).

6.1.1 Eligible activities
  • Development of a tripartite partnership agreement (MOU) and a joint work plan that identify shared priorities and each partner's commitments, roles, responsibilities, and planned activities. Activities must address one or more of the EPP priority areas.
6.1.2 Eligible expenditures
  • salaries and benefits for employees working on tripartite partnership development
  • travel and accommodations within Canada related to tripartite partnership development
  • meetings directly related to tripartite partnership development
  • communications with First Nations related to tripartite partnership development
  • professional, consulting and Elder fees related to tripartite partnership development fees (indicating daily rate and duration of contract)
  • legal advice (but not for litigation)
  • evaluation of the project's outcomes and impacts by an independent evaluator
  • eligible administration costs, as outlined below (not exceeding 10%)

Mileage and per diem travel expenses cannot exceed those contained in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Travel Directive.

Once the partners have a signed tripartite partnership agreement (MOU) and concluded a joint work plan, the regional First Nations Management Organization will be eligible to submit a proposal to ISC to access funding for eligible activities under the program's Partnership Advancement component.

6.2 Partnership Advancement

For established partnerships, the program may provide funding to support the continued development and implementation of time-limited activities identified within a joint action plan. Proposals can be submitted for one year only and funding will be approved and provided for one year only.

6.2.1 Eligible activities
  • developing First Nations provincial arrangements or strategies to improve programs and services for First Nations students attending provincial schools. For example:
    • development of new, or replacement of existing, tuition agreements with programs and service-type agreements that set out strategies and measures to improve First Nations student outcomes in provincial schools
    • development of other strategies, such as service enhancement agreements, to improve the outcomes of First Nations students attending provincial schools
  • mutual sharing of expertise and provision of services. For example:
    • sharing expertise in pedagogy and existing curriculum
    • mutual provision of services such as professional development and training
    • piloting proven provincial initiatives in First Nations schools
  • improving coordination between First Nations and provincial schools to ensure smooth student transitions. For example:
    • development of transition protocols or strategies to enable First Nations and provincial schools to track and support students moving between schools (such as the development of a common student identifier that is linked to the provincial system)
    • development of data-sharing protocols, mentorship programs, guidance and preparation for students entering provincial schools
    • coordinating First Nations and provincial school schedules, policies and strategies
  • creating better links between early childhood programs and elementary and secondary education on reserve, or labour market training programs, through partnership activities involving other federal and provincial departments. For example:
    • establishing coordination to facilitate better program links between early childhood, elementary and secondary schools
    • developing education initiatives or curricula in First Nations schools
    • development of strategies designed to improve the essential skills of secondary students leading to job-readiness and employment, or to improve kindergarten readiness for children entering kindergarten, involving the appropriate federal and provincial departments, the private sector and other stakeholders
6.2.2 Eligible expenditures
  • costs associated with the implementation of joint agreements, protocols or strategies as they relate to First Nations schools (such as data-sharing protocols, mentorship programs, guidance and preparation for students entering provincial schools)
  • First Nations purchase of services directly linked to joint partnership plans
  • costs associated with the implementation of extending provincial initiatives or programs into First Nations schools
  • travel and accommodations within Canada related to tripartite partnership advancement (mileage and per diem travel expenses cannot exceed those contained in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Travel Directive)
  • IT services, purchase of hardware or software, license fees, repairs, and maintenance
  • professional, consulting fees and Elder fees (indicating daily rate and duration of contract)
  • legal advice (but not for litigation)
  • evaluation of the project's outcomes and impacts by an independent evaluator
  • professional development and training
  • salaries and benefits for employees working on the advancement of tripartite development
  • purchase of learning and instructional materials
  • administration costs, as outlined in section 6.3.1, and not exceeding 10% of total costs

6.3 Limitations and 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 Nations school facilities
  • travel outside Canada
  • any activity expenditure that would result in a duplication of funding (that is receipt of funding from more than one source for the same expenditures on an activity), including fees and services covered through tuition agreement

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 Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve between the ages of 4 to 21 years and attending schools on reserve. Provinces are expected to be primarily responsible for financially supporting joint activities directed to students in provincial schools.

6.3.1 Maximum administration costs

Eligible administration costs for both Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement include only the actual costs associated directly with administering EPP, and must not exceed 10% of total costs. The program's Data Collection Instrument 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 (such as office space, equipment and supplies)
  • the collection, maintenance, and reporting of data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting requirements
  • costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal

Further distribution of funds by ISC's funding recipients:

When a funding recipient transfers to a third party funds that were received under the EPP, the 10% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to between the parties. The total administration costs retained by all parties must not exceed 10% of total costs.

6.3.2 Activities must be time-limited

The EPP does not provide core operational funding. Recipients are advised that EPP 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 for an activity is permitted in some cases, such as piloting a new 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 the current year's activities as a guarantee that ISC will fund related activities planned for upcoming fiscal years.

6.3.3 No duplication of funding

The EPP is designed to be flexible in order to address shared partnership priorities, but it is not designed to duplicate activities funded by other programs or to supplement funding in other program areas. Activities that provide training, resources 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.

7. 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: aadnc.education-education.aandc@canada.ca.

All proposals are assessed on their merits, in accordance with the following criteria:

Meeting these criteria does not guarantee funding from the EPP.

8. Proposal process

The annual call for proposals letter, which includes important proposal information, can be found on ISC's website on 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 October 5, 2018
Deadline for submission of project proposal December 12, 2018
Proposal assessment December 2018 to March 2019
Announcement of successful proposals End of March 2019
Funding and amending agreements prepared April 2019

The number of proposals funded will depend on the quality of submissions, priority and the funds available for the year.

9. Funding

Funding will be approved for one year only and will be provided in the form of a one-year contribution.

9.1 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 Nations recipients to carry over funds, most funding approaches include, to different levels, carry over provisions and redirection of funds provisions.

This section will require adjustment to align program instructions with the new provisions included in the 2019-2020 national funding agreement models.

10. Monitoring, accountability, oversight activities and reporting requirements

10.1 Monitoring and accountability

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.

Funding recipients must deliver the programs in accordance with the provisions of their funding agreement and the program delivery requirements outlined in this document, 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 this document.

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 policies that govern them up to the point that it is transferred to ISC.

10.2 Oversight activities

All funding recipient reporting requirements are subject to monitoring and oversight activities to determine the accuracy of the information provided to ISC.

10.3 Reporting requirements

The recipient will be responsible for ensuring that each participant completes an annual report, and that one aggregated report is submitted to the ISC relevant regional office by June 30, 2020.

The reporting requirements (program and financial reports) and their respective due dates are listed in the recipient's funding agreement. 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:

You can also write to:

Education Branch
Regional Partnerships Directorate
Indigenous Services Canada
10 rue Wellington
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
aadnc.education-education.aandc@canada.ca

These National Program Guidelines are available electronically

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