Post-Secondary Partnerships Program: National Program Guidelines 2020 to 2021

Preamble

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is committed to working collaboratively with Indigenous partners in transforming the way the department adapts and implements policy and program reform. These guidelines are consistent with the terms and conditions that have been discussed with and informed by First Nations convened by the Assembly of First Nations. On December 3, 2018, the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly passed Resolution #05/2018, which supported the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal to the Government of Canada. In developing the terms and conditions, First Nations partners have noted that they do not view this strategy as a matter of social policy, and have asked that the following statements from the Policy Proposal be included:

In addition, First Nations have identified that ongoing changes to federal policy and legislation (such as Bill S-3) can put pressure on First Nations governments to make timely and difficult decisions in regards to supporting First Nations students.

These guidelines have been amended in order to be consistent with First Nations control of First Nations education, the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal and the amended 2019 Terms and Conditions.

On this page

1. Introduction

ISC supports post-secondary education through 2 streams of programming:

These guidelines address the objectives, the criteria for funding and the delivery requirements of the PSPP. This program is a First Nations-directed and regionally delivered program, with criteria established by First Nations or organizations designated by First Nations. It is proposal-driven and the level of funding allocated to recipients is based on the number and quality of proposals submitted relative to the available ISC PSPP budget. The program is not intended as a source of core operational funding.

2. Objective

The PSPP provides funding to support First Nations to define their own partnerships with institutions to increase the availability of post-secondary education programs tailored to First Nations cultural and educational needs. The overall aim of the program is to increase the number of First Nations students pursuing post-secondary education and thereby contribute to closing the education attainment gap.

The PSPP is a First Nations-directed and regionally delivered program that supports First Nations-established post-secondary education institutions and First Nations directed community-based programming. First Nations or organizations designated by First Nations will set criteria for funding and will adjudicate based on regional priorities to support First-Nations established post-secondary institutions or community-based programming.

This component supports and respects the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education by providing funding for First Nations-directed support for First Nations-established institutions and community-based programming. This approach will improve the delivery of post-secondary education and will improve access to post-secondary education for First Nations students.

3. Expected results

The results of this program will enable First Nations students to achieve levels of post-secondary education comparable to non-Indigenous students in Canada.

4. Activities

The PSPP provides funding for proposals for activities that must meet the objectives and expected results of section 2 and section 3. Some examples of activities could include:

5. Eligible recipients

Under PSPP, eligible recipients are:

Although it is not mandatory, ordinarily the institution or organization delivering the program is recognized by a province or territory as degree, diploma, or certificate granting or has partnered with an institution that is recognized.

6. Regional administration options

Three options for the annual call for proposals are available in each region. The option chosen by First Nations must be submitted in writing to their ISC regional office.

Option 1

Where First Nations in a region have designated an organization to take over adjudication and administration of the program’s funding in their region, the organization will enter into an agreement with ISC that defines the roles and responsibilities of all parties, provides clear objectives, and outlines reporting requirements.

The First Nations organization would fully manage the process including:

  • setting local guidelines
  • identifying themes and priorities
  • setting proposal assessment criteria
  • call out to eligible recipients
  • create a selection committee
  • receive and review proposals

A letter will be sent by the First Nations organization to all First Nations or organizations designated by First Nations in its region to inform them of the launch of the call for proposals. This letter will be sent the same day the call for proposal is launched to ensure that each eligible recipient has enough time to submit a proposal.

The ISC regional office and identified First Nations organizations will enter into a funding agreement.

Option 2

First Nations-designated and directed organizations in each region will work with ISC in the adjudication and administration of allocations according to program guidelines.

Through joint development with First Nations partners in the region, ISC’s regional offices will support and implement the final decisions.

A letter will be sent by the ISC regional office to all First Nations or organizations designated by First Nations in its region to inform them of the launch of the call for proposals. This letter should be sent the same day the call for proposal is launched to ensure that each eligible recipient has enough time to submit a proposal.

ISC post-secondary education officials will draft template decision letters in partnership with First Nations to be finalized and sent out from regional directors to both successful and unsuccessful applicants.

The ISC regional office will put funding agreements in place for successful applicants.

Option 3

If the First Nations do not participate in the regional processes, ISC regional offices would manage the process, including:

  • identifying themes and priorities
  • setting proposal assessment criteria
  • call out to eligible recipients
  • create a ISC regional selection committee
  • receive, review and score proposals
  • validation of the approved proposals and amounts
  • seeking approval on scoring and recommendations from their respective regional director general

The regional selection committees will be comprised of regional education branch staff.

ISC post-secondary education officials will draft template decision letters to be finalized and sent out from regional directors to both successful and unsuccessful applicants.

The ISC regional office will put funding agreements in place for successful applicants.

For PSPP initiatives, funding allocations are determined by a 2 step process:

  1. regional allocations are made based on First Nations population distribution
  2. First Nations-designated and directed organizations in each region will work with ISC in the adjudication and administration of allocations according to the option chosen

Review and approval process

In collaboration with ISC, the regional First Nations-led adjudication bodies will review all proposals (or ISC only in the case of option 3). A written response will be sent to applicants to confirm whether or not their proposal has been approved for funding.

Regional guidelines will set out the review and approval process. Where these have not been established, the following will apply:

  • a waiting list of projects may be kept by the department for potential additional investments. This list will be approved by the First Nations-led adjudication body if there is additional funding
  • multi-year funding will be considered for low-risk recipients based on program effectiveness, institution stability and for project proposals that have clear annual work plans and dates for transitioning to self-sufficiency. Recipients approved for a multi-year proposal will not have to re-submit a proposal for the subsequent fiscal years covered by the approved proposal
  • the PSPP will consider the provision of additional financial support for a proposal already being supported by another partner if this enhances the scope of the proposal and meets program objectives

Details on the 2020 to 2021 call for proposal and the application process can be found in the Call for proposals page. Please note that these processes will not apply in all regions. Where the program is fully adjudicated and administered by a First Nations designated organization, they will need to be contacted directly.

Proposal assessment criteria

Annex 1 provides an applicants’ guide containing proposal assessment criteria. This annex must be used for those under option 3. For those under option 1 where regional criteria are present, they will supersede. For option 2, the annex will be used if the recipient so wishes or in the case where regional criteria are not developed by the First Nations.

Where option 3 is being implemented, proposals will be assessed with the following criteria:

  • a statement of need for each specific project describing the background, the targeted student base, the type of program and area of study, context of the project, specific issues that will be addressed, and the drivers leading to the funding request. Items of special note include:
    • responsiveness to the educational needs of First Nation, including evidence of First Nations support for the project
    • a clear project definition, including planned activities, expected outcomes and evidence of previous program success (where applicable)
    • the use of innovative and efficient delivery methods

7. Managing conflict of interest

It is necessary to avoid actual conflicts of interest and any situation that might cause doubt in objectivity. For these 3 regional administration options, a managing conflict of interest procedure needs to be developed and put in place.

Recipients that manage the adjudication and administration of the funding of the program must demonstrate transparency and accountability in their policies and processes. This includes having a publicly available conflict of interest policy, written standards, policies and procedures on the project selection process for funding. A list of successful proponents should be made publicly available.

Individuals cannot participate in the evaluation of a proposal in the following situations:

Conflicts of interest may arise during the review of proposals. These situations need to be managed in an open and transparent manner. Should a situation arise that presents a real or potential conflict of interest during the review process, the impacted individual must recuse themselves from the deliberations concerning the specific proposal.

8. Eligible expenditures

Eligible expenditures for the PSPP include the direct costs for First Nations and First Nations established post-secondary education institutions to develop and deliver programming for First Nations students that leads to the attainment of a post-secondary education credential.

This may include, but is not limited to:

Recipients are encouraged to seek economical means for travel. Recipients may choose to refer to the rates set for government travel in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Travel Directive in determining eligible travel costs.

The maximum amount payable to PSPP recipients normally will not exceed $500,000. Exceptions will be determined by First Nations-designated and directed organizations, based on First Nations priorities.

9. Ineligible expenditures

Capital and maintenance costs are ineligible under PSPP. Other ineligible costs are permanent staff salaries, student tuition, student books and supplies.

10. Funding approaches

Transfer payments to funding recipients of the PSPP may be made using fixed contribution or flexible contribution depending on the eligibility of the recipient and of the service to be delivered. Set funding may also be used if the recipient so wishes. ISC regional officers can advise on the eligibility of 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 program 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 PSPP. Recipients must get approval from the ISC officer responsible for the program in their region before reallocating funds.

Unexpended funding:
Recipients may retain unexpended funding from a fiscal year, to expend in the one year period immediately following the fiscal year for which it was provided, on eligible activities and expenditures outlined in the PSPP National Guidelines 2020 to 2021.

Flexible 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 PSPP. Recipients must obtain the approval from the ISC officer responsible for the program in their region before reallocating funds.

Unexpended funding:
Recipients may retain unexpended funding remaining at the end of each fiscal year, to expend in a subsequent fiscal year, to further achieve results toward their ISC-approved proposal for the PSPP.

11. 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 guidelines and regional guidelines where applicable, 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.

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

ISC is accountable to provide funding to First Nations in a timely manner through contributions payments under the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Strategy.

Where appropriate, audits, evaluations and targeted strategy reviews (such as desk and onsite reviews), may be conducted with funding recipients to ensure that strategy outcomes and objectives are being met and opportunities for continuous improvement with a goal to improve results for First Nations are being identified.

Of note, these activities may be developed through the regional post-secondary education strategies.

12. Reporting requirements

The reporting requirements (program and financial reports) 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. To access the program reporting form (Data Collection Instrument), contact your regional office.

13. Contact information

For further program information:

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

You can also write to:

Education Branch
Indigenous Services Canada
10 Wellington Street
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
Fax number: 819-934-1478
Email: aadnc.education-education.aandc@canada.ca

These guidelines can be consulted in 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).

Annex 1 - Applicants guide

Post-Secondary Partnerships Program - Assessment form
Proposal assessment criteria Weight
All proposals will be assessed using the following criteria by the selection committee(s). Each criterion will be worth the value indicated in the second column, on a scale of 100. Recipients should ensure their proposal clearly addresses each criterion.
Respond to a labour market need
Evidence that the project is in a discipline in high labour market demand (locally, regionally, or nationally) should be included. Evidence of labour market research or data can be demonstrated either by using Employment and Social Development Canada's (ESDC) labour market information at or by other sources of evidence of high demand in First Nations and Inuit communities (such as Indigenous government administration, teachers in First Nation schools, through letters from potential employers, emerging development projects, quantitative analysis of labour shortages in a province, territory or region or in First Nations and Inuit communities).
20
Respond to educational needs of First Nation and Inuit students or has evidence of Indigenous support
Project is adapted to educational needs of First Nation and Inuit students, and shows evidence of First Nation and Inuit support for the project (such as the use of Elders, Indigenous mentors, tutors, availability of course in rural or remote areas, integration of language and culture into curricula).
15
Planned activities, expected outcomes, and evidence of previous success
Proposed curriculum is presented by semester, including start and end date of course or project and method of delivery. All courses must be credited towards a certificate or diploma including projected enrollment and expected take-up or minimum enrollment. Institution's expertise and capacity to deliver proposed activities as demonstrated by past success and past measures of performance over a number of years. Institution's ability to reach a sizeable number of students identified by expected number of students. If the project is new, demonstrate the institution's record of recruitment and retention, in particular First Nation and Inuit students. Level and qualification of the teaching personnel planned for the project. A maximum of 2 year multi-year funding will be considered for low-risk recipients for projects whose proposals lay out clear annual workplans and dates for transitioning to self-sufficiency within the regular operations of the post-secondary institution.
15
Innovative and efficient delivery
Innovative learning tools, new instructional material for online courses, outreach, distance education, culturally adapted internships, course schedules that accommodate mature students who may have to work part-time or have day care needs.
15
Budget
Provide a budget detailed by activity with staff salaries broken down by staff categories and number of personnel. Demonstration that costs are directly related to the development and delivery of the project. Cost per student is justified. Tuition fees are included as revenues. Administration costs are within the 15% allowed.
10
Funding partner(s)
Preference given to projects that include funding partner(s) with a firm commitment to monetary participation.
10
Transition plan for migration to mainstream activities of the post-secondary education institution
Clear timeline for program self-sufficiency and migration to the mainstream activities within the regular operations of the institution, including dates for the end of PSPP funding.
10
Submission quality 5
Total 100
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