Education Partnerships Program: Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement Component: National Program Guidelines 2020-2021
Established in 2008, the Education Partnerships Program (EPP) is a supplementary, targeted funding program designed to promote collaboration among First Nations, provinces and territories, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), and other partners. It aims to advance First Nations student achievement in First Nations, provincial and territorial schools.
This program collaborates with First Nations to improve First Nations students' experiences in provincial and territorial schools, as well as in First Nations schools, and to improve education outcomes for First Nations while respecting the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education.
These guidelines have been developed in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, its Chiefs Committee on Education, and the National Indian Education Council.
Given continuing updates to the program, applications are limited to the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year. Multiyear applications will not be considered at this time.
Proposals can be submitted using the official 2020 to 2021 ISC Data Collection Instrument (DCI) or a compatible Microsoft Word or Excel format. Proposals submitted using a compatible format can include the Partnership Advancement and Partnership Establishment component and the Structural Readiness component as different sections of 1 document, or as 2 separate documents.
Applicants with access to the ISC Services Portal can open the DCI by starting a session on the portal. If you do not have access to the portal, or want to submit in a compatible format, contact your regional office .
Refer to Assessment process and criteria for more information on assessment.
These program guidelines are meant to support eligible applicants in developing their proposals.
The EPP has 3 distinct components:
- Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement: The first component of the EPP supports establishing and advancing partnership arrangements. These partnership arrangements aim to share expertise and resources, help develop practical working relationships between First Nations and provincial or territorial officials and educators, and ensure supports are in place for all First Nations students. The arrangements also open the way to better coordination and transitions between First Nations and provincial or territorial systems. They require mutual accountability by all parties to support the success of First Nation students. The arrangements result in concrete benefits for the students, teachers and administrators involved, and should lead to improved educational outcomes for First Nations students.
- Structural Readiness: The second component of the EPP supports capacity and governance development. These activities build the capacity of First Nations organizations to strengthen their organization; cover start-up costs for First Nations school models; and support the conclusion of service delivery agreements with partners such as provincial or territorial schools and school boards, and other organizations, to ensure the education system is responsive to First Nation community needs and student outcomes.
If you are an eligible applicant interested in applying to the Structural Readiness component of the EPP, see the Education Partnerships Program: Structural Readiness component: National Program Guidelines 2020-2021. For more information, also consult the EPP web page or your regional ISC office.
The Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement component and the Structural Readiness component of the EPP use different eligibility criteria and guidelines.
- Regional Education Agreement: The third component of the EPP aims to fundamentally improve the way ISC funds elementary and secondary education, while supporting regional and local diversity and implementing the principle of First Nation control of First Nation education. This new component will support the:
- delivery of information sessions
- establishment of regional technical tables
- development and negotiation of regional education agreements
For more information on the Regional Education Agreement component, consult the EPP web page or your regional ISC office.
The goal of the EPP is to advance First Nations elementary and secondary student achievement in First Nation, provincial and territorial schools. The Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement component is one element available to First Nations to assist in achieving that goal.
3. Funding recipients
A "funding recipient" is 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
Applicants who may be eligible to receive funding for this program are:
- First Nations organizations, such as education authorities, tribal councils, or political organizations mandated by a group of First Nations
Eligible regional First Nations organizations must meet the following criteria:
- have support from First Nations communities or schools
- undertake, as a key function, elementary and secondary education support for groups of First Nations communities or schools
- agree to produce publicly available annual reports on education partnership projects and expenditures
The Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement component supports 2 streams of partnership activities:
- Partnership Establishment activities support establishing:
- partnership agreements and joint work plans between First Nations, provinces or territories, and ISC
- other partnership models that identify the shared priorities on which the parties are committed to working together to improve First Nation student achievement
- Partners may include the provincial or territorial ministry of education, provincial or territorial school board, school board-like entities, other First Nations, First Nation organizations and ISC. At this level, partnerships can maximize opportunities for coordination and cost-efficiency. Others, such as federal and provincial or territorial government departments and private sector organizations, may also be partners.
- Partnership Advancement activities are collaborative activities to improve First Nations student achievement, in both First Nations and provincial or territorial schools. Activities must be identified within a joint action plan or an agreement already in place with the ministry of education and ISC.
Priority areas: All Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement proposals must address 1 or more of the following:
- activities to support the establishment and advancement of agreements with provinces or territories and provincial or territorial school boards to improve student outcomes and to support smooth transitions by improving programs and services, sharing expertise, and improving coordination between First Nation and provincial or territorial schools
- activities that directly respond to recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action on education
- activities that lead to developing new approaches to tuition and education services and delivery agreements activities to, through partnerships involving other federal and provincial or territorial departments, create better links between elementary and secondary education on reserves, early childhood programs, and planning for transitions to postsecondary education or labour market training programs
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 are responsible for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the partnership and its activities. In many partnerships, provincial or territorial school boards, districts or divisions will also play a role in the implementation of joint partnership plans.
Federal funding: federal funding of approved proposals submitted under the Partnership Establishment or Partnership Advancement streams of the EPP is provided to regional First Nations organizations, to support their participation in partnership arrangements and to support joint initiatives directed to First Nation students. Federal funding is intended to primarily support services to elementary and secondary First Nations students who ordinarily reside on-reserve, are between 4 and 21 years old and attend an on-reserve school, or a school for First Nations students in the territories. Provinces and territories are expected to be primarily responsible for financially supporting joint activities directed to students in provincial and territorial schools through a joint action plan or an agreement already in place.
Eligible activities and expenditures
EPP funding supports eligible partnership establishment and partnership advancement activities and expenditures where partnerships meet the following criteria:
- all partners share a common goal and collaborate to improve First Nations student achievement in First Nations and provincial or territorial schools
- the partnership involves educators and education specialists in First Nations schools and organizations or in the provincial or territorial system
- the partnership is focused on 1 or more of the priority areas described in section 5 above
- 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 EPP may provide funding to support Partnership Establishment activities such as negotiating and drafting a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between a regional First Nations organization, the provincial or territorial ministry of education, or ISC (where an MOU does not exist), and performing any necessary consultations with communities. All partners will be required to sign the partnership agreement.
6.1.1 Eligible activities
- Developing a partnership agreement that identifies shared priorities and each partner's commitments, roles, responsibilities and planned activities. Activities must address 1 or more of the priority areas described in section 5 above.
6.1.2 Eligible expenditures
- salaries and benefits for employees working on tripartite partnership development
- travel and accommodation costs related to partnership agreement development
- meeting costs directly related to partnership agreement development
- communications with First Nations related to partnership agreement development
- professional, consulting and Elder fees related to partnership agreement development (indicating daily rate and duration of contract)
- legal advice (excluding litigation)
- evaluation of the project's outcomes and impacts by an independent evaluator
- eligible administration costs, as outlined in section 6.3.1 below (not exceeding 15% of total costs)
Mileage and daily travel expenses cannot exceed those set out in the National Joint Council's Travel Directive.
Once the partners have signed a partnership agreement and have concluded a joint action plan or an agreement already in place, the regional First Nations organization will be eligible to submit a proposal to ISC to access funding for eligible activities under the EPP's Partnership Advancement stream.
6.2 Partnership Advancement
For established partnerships, the EPP may support the continued development and implementation of activities identified within a joint action plan or an agreement already in place with the ministry of education and ISC.
6.2.1 Eligible activities
- developing First Nations-provincial or territorial arrangements or strategies to improve programs and services for First Nation students attending provincial or territorial schools. For example:
- developing new, or replacing existing, tuition agreements with programs and service-type agreements that set out strategies and measures to improve First Nations student outcomes in provincial or territorial schools
- developing other strategies, such as service enhancement agreements, to improve the outcomes of First Nations students attending provincial or territorial schools
- mutually sharing expertise and provision of services. For example:
- sharing expertise in pedagogy and existing curriculum
- mutually providing services such as professional development and training
- piloting proven provincial or territorial initiatives in First Nations schools, and First Nations initiatives in provincial or territorial schools
- working with other First Nations schools and school systems
- improving coordination between First Nations and provincial or territorial schools to ensure smooth student transitions. For example:
- developing transition protocols or strategies to enable First Nations and provincial or territorial schools to track and support students moving between schools (such as a common student identifier linked to the provincial or territorial system)
- developing data-sharing protocols, mentorship programs, guidance and preparation for students entering provincial or territorial schools
- coordinating First Nations and provincial or territorial school schedules, policies and strategies
- through partnership activities involving other federal and provincial or territorial departments, creating better links between early childhood programs, elementary and secondary education on reserves, and planning for transitions to postsecondary education or labour market training programs . 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
- developing strategies, involving the appropriate federal and provincial or territorial departments, the private sector and other partners, to improve the essential skills of secondary students, leading to job readiness and employment; or to improve kindergarten readiness
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, and guidance and preparation for students entering provincial or territorial schools)
- purchase of services directly linked to a joint action plan or an agreement already in place
- costs associated with implementing the extension of provincial or territorial initiatives or programs in First Nations schools, and First Nations initiatives or programs in provincial or territorial schools
- travel and accommodation costs within Canada related to tripartite partnership advancement (mileage and daily travel expenses cannot exceed those set out in the National Joint Council's Travel Directive)
- IT set-up services, including purchase of hardware, software and license fees, and repair and maintenance costs
- professional, consulting and Elder fees (indicating daily rate and duration of contract)
- legal advice (excluding 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
- eligible administration costs, as outlined in section 6.3.1 below (not exceeding 15% of total costs)
6.3 Limitations and ineligible expenditures
Ineligible expenditures include, but are not limited to the following:
- provincial and territorial tuition
- activities related to the negotiation and implementation of self government agreements
- infrastructure, including planning, construction, operation or maintenance of federal and First Nations school facilities
- any activity expenditure that would result in duplicated funding (receiving funding from more than 1 source for the same expenditures on an activity), including fees and services covered through tuition agreement
In addition, funding cannot be used to acquire or maintain equipment or supplies in provincial or territorial schools, or to provide professional development to provincial or territorial staff.
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 the EPP and must not exceed 15% of total costs. If you are using the DCI, it will automatically calculate the percentage based on the amount you enter for administration. If you are using a compatible format, ensure that administration costs are clearly identified, including a subtotal specific to these costs.
Eligible administration costs include, but are not limited to, the following:
- 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
Note: When a funding recipient transfers to a third party funds that were received under the EPP, the 15% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to by the parties. The total administration costs retained by all parties must not exceed 15% of total costs.
6.3.2 Duration of funding
Due to ongoing changes in the EPP, 2020 to 2021 funding will be allocated on an annual basis. Activities ultimately funded must be among those set out in the proposal that was approved through the assessment process.
Recipients and beneficiaries should not interpret funding for a current cycle's activities as a guarantee that they will be funded 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. It is not designed to duplicate funding for activities funded by other programs, nor to supplement funding from other program areas. Activities that provide training, resources or services that can be addressed under another specific ISC program are not eligible for EPP funding. However, activities related to developing 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
Applicants must provide sufficient detail in proposals to support the assessment process. This is especially true of information on:
- the activities planned
- expected results
- expense detail breakdowns
Insufficient detail will require revision. If, as an applicant, you have questions, contact the appropriate program analyst, at email@example.com.
Proposals can be submitted using the official 2020-21 ISC DCI or a compatible Microsoft Word or Excel format . The DCI shows what information is required as part of a proposal. If you want to prepare your proposal using a compatible format, include all the elements described in the guidance template. If you do not have access to the portal, contact your regional office for the template.
All proposals are assessed on their merits, in accordance with the following assessment criteria. As such, ensure your proposal demonstrates:
- capability: the experience, expertise or capacity of all partners to undertake the proposed partnership activities successfully and achieve the desired results in a timely manner (for established partnerships, the track record of past partnership activities will be taken into account). In proposals:
- clearly link proposed activities to student needs or evidence-based approaches to student achievement
- commitment and engagement: the extent to which the proposal has the support of communities, schools and partners (provincial or territorial ministry of education, provincial or territorial school board, school board-like entities, other First Nations, First Nations organizations and ISC; others, such as federal and provincial or territorial government departments and private sector organizations may also be partners). In proposals:
- clearly describe the extent of participation of the partners in the development of the proposal, and of their involvement in the proposed activities
- clearly describe in detail how community engagement activities were undertaken and with whom (parents, teachers, principals) in the proposal's development
- implementation activities: the extent to which the proposal aligns with eligible activities and meets program objectives. The assessment process will consider timeliness, cost-effectiveness and the degree to which the activities are likely to result in expected outcomes. In proposals:
- describe each activity, including the specific actions planned to accomplish the activity, the implementation plan, the roles and responsibilities of all partners, and a progress update for activities being continued from a previous year
- describe the expected results for each activity, including the goals or objectives of the activity, and the indicators that will be used to measure progress
- describe how partners will share resources and knowledge
- project management: how the project will be managed, including project governance; management of project scope, quality and budget; human resources; and project monitoring, control and reporting
- project costs: the extent to which the proposed budget is reasonable in relation to the goals, design and potential impact of the partnership activities. In proposals:
- provide an explanation for each expense type, including a detailed description of how the cost estimates were determined (for travel, list the mode of transportation, cost per trip, and number of trips)
- identify all cash or in-kind contributions from provinces or territories and other partners
Meeting these criteria does not guarantee funding from the EPP.
8. Proposal process
For information on the call for proposals, consult ISC's EPP page .
Proposals can be submitted using the DCI form or a compatible format. Submit your proposal to your ISC regional office.
Refer to the DCI proposal form and its attached instructions for application details, or see the accessible format template available from your regional ISC office.
The number of proposals funded will depend on the funds available for the year.
Due to ongoing changes in the EPP, 2020 to 2021 funding will be approved for 1 year only, and provided in the form of a 1-year contribution.
9.1 Funding approaches
Transfer payments to funding recipients under the Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement streams will be made using a Fixed contribution. Set contribution may be used if the recipient so wishes. ISC regional officers can advise on eligibility to these funding approaches, as well as on the requirements related to the management of the funds. The funding approach used to transfer funds to a recipient is identified in the recipient's signed funding agreement.
The following specific EPP directions for the management of transfer payments complement the directions provided in the recipient's signed funding agreement and are to be read in conjunction with the funding agreement.
- Set contribution funding
Reallocation of funding: Reallocation of funds is not allowed with transfer payments made using Set contribution.
- Fixed contribution funding
Reallocation of funding: During the fiscal year, recipients may reallocate a reasonable percentage of funds among the eligible activities and expenditures of their ISC-approved proposal for the Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement components of the EPP. Recipients must obtain approval from the ISC officer responsible for the program in their region before reallocating funds.
Recipients may retain unexpended funding from a fiscal year, to expend in the 1-year immediately following the fiscal year for which it was provided, on eligible activities and expenditures outlined in the Education Partnerships Program: Partnership Establishment and Partnership Advancement component: National Program Guidelines 2020-2021.
10. Accountability and reporting
ISC is committed to providing assistance to recipients and partners in order to help them effectively carry out obligations set out in these guidelines and funding agreements. Regional offices and other ISC 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 these 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 guidelines.
The reporting requirements (program and financial reports) and their respective due date are listed in the recipient's funding agreement. Details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide. Recipients who have access to the ISC Services Portal can access the reporting forms by opening a session on the portal. If a recipient does not have access to the portal, contact your regional office. Recipients are responsible for ensuring that the reporting requirements are met and reports are accurate and submitted on or before the established due dates.
Recipients are responsible for completing an annual report and submitting it to their ISC regional office by June 30 the year following receipt of the funds. If the funded work has not concluded, final reporting should also include information on next steps and timeline.
11. Contact information
For more information, see the EPP page .
To find your regional office's coordinates, consult the ISC regional offices page.
You can also write to:
Regional Partnerships Directorate
Indigenous Services Canada
10 rue Wellington
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
These national program guidelines are available electronically:
- at Education Partnerships Program: Structural Readiness component: National Program Guidelines
- by clicking "View Instructions" on the first page of this program's DCI on the ISC Service Portal