Education Partnerships Program: Partnerships Component: National Program Guidelines 2024 to 2025

Table of contents


The Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation and government-to-government relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership as the foundation for transformative change. The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires transformative change in the government's relationship with Indigenous peoples.

These efforts must be guided by Canada's obligation to respect and uphold First Nations' inherent, Indigenous and treaty rights, including those rights to education referenced in specific treaties and self-government agreements. The nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations is rooted in historic treaties, the numbered treaties, self-government agreements, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and informed by the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.

1. Program introduction

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) supports the advancement of First Nations student achievement in First Nations, independent, provincial and territorial schools through the Education Partnerships Program. This program has 3 proposal-based components:

Each component has its own set of national program guidelines outlining the eligibility criteria and proposal information requirements and set out the delivery requirements for funding recipients that enter into a funding agreement with ISC for the delivery of the Education Partnerships Program.

The following guidelines are effective as of April 1, 2024 and replace the Education Partnerships Program: Partnerships Component: National Program Guidelines 2023 to 2024.

2. Objective

The objective of the Partnerships component is to support First Nations education administration and service delivery organizations with the implementation of:

3. Expected results

The expected results of this component are to:

4. Eligible recipients

Applicants who may be eligible to receive funding for this program are:

First Nations organizations mandated by First Nations must undertake, as a key function, elementary and secondary education support for groups of First Nations communities or schools.

Applicants must have an existing partnership arrangement with 1 or more of the following:

Applicants must clearly identify their respective partners in their proposal and demonstrate that partners will work together on identified priorities.

Individual First Nations or schools may be party to more than 1 proposal in each component provided that there is no duplication of activities.

The purchasing of services, regardless of the duration of the service agreement, does not constitute a partnership for the purposes of this program.

5. Eligible activities and criteria

The following identifies all of the required proposal information.

Applicants must clearly identify planned activities that will be implemented. Funding for potential activities will not be supported.

5.1 Eligible activities

The Partnerships component supports the advancement of partnerships.

Partnerships funding may support the continued development and implementation of activities identified within the partners' joint action plan or any other mechanism to facilitate the partnership or an agreement already in place with either the ministry of education or ISC.

  • Developing First Nations provincial or territorial arrangements or strategies to improve programs and services for First Nations students attending provincial or territorial schools. For example:
    • developing strategies that do not duplicate existing core services, such as service enhancement agreements through a memorandum of understanding, letter of understanding or letter of agreement 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 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
    • developing transition plans for students entering provincial or territorial schools
    • coordinating First Nations and provincial or territorial schools' schedules, policies and strategies
  • Establish stronger links where other federal and provincial or territorial departments are involved, to assist with student transitions. For example:
    • establishing coordination to facilitate better program links between early childhood, elementary and secondary schools, post-secondary education or labour market training programs
    • establishing strategies for on-reserve First Nations students who are transitioning to off-reserve schools, including boarded students
    • 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

Applicants who have previously received Partnerships component funding must demonstrate how the current proposal and eligible activities will enhance or be a continuance of previous years activities.

5.2 Criteria

Partnerships component funding only supports eligible activities and expenditures that meet the following criteria and proposals must clearly demonstrate that:

  • all partners share a common goal and collaborate to improve First Nations student achievement in First Nations, provincial or territorial schools
  • the partnership involves educators and education specialists in First Nations schools, organizations or the provincial or territorial system. The partnership must focus on 1 or more of the priority areas described in section 5.1
  • 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 program
  • partnership activities related to supporting regional models or agreements
  • all partners commit to practical measures to improve outcomes

6. Expenditures

6.1 Eligible expenditures

Subject to section 6.2, eligible expenditures include:

  • short-term, non-permanent funding for salaries and benefits
  • travel expenditures including accommodation costs, private vehicle, mileage allowances and daily meal allowances in accordance with the rates set out in the National Joint Council's Travel Directive, excluding incidental allowances
  • meeting costs including facility rentals, meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment rentals and hospitality
  • communications with First Nations and education partners such as ministries of education, teachers' associations and school board associations
  • professional services, consulting fees or Elder engagement, daily rates and duration of contract must be clearly stated
  • honoraria for Elders, Knowledge Keepers, cultural and ceremonial drummers and dancers
  • 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
  • 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
    • developing transition plans for students entering provincial or territorial schools
  • IT start-up services: proposals must be accompanied by an IT strategy and implementation plan and a price quotation. IT start-up services may include:
    • the purchase of hardware or software for the organization only and not for in-classroom or individual student needs
    • IT fees, for example, maintenance or license that are critical for the organization's operations when funding is not available elsewhere
  • legal advice, excluding litigation costs
  • purchase of learning and instructional materials to be utilized by the First Nations organization

6.2 Ineligible expenditures

Ineligible expenditures include, but may not be limited to:

  • provincial and territorial tuition and the development of tuition agreements or activities related to core programming
  • activities related to the negotiation and implementation of self-government agreements
  • infrastructure, construction, operation or maintenance of federal and First Nations school facilities
  • any activity expenditure that would result in duplicate funding such as receiving funding from more than 1 source for the same cost of an activity, including fees and services covered through tuition agreements and the interim regional funding formulas
  • acquisition or maintenance of equipment or supplies in provincial or territorial schools
  • travel outside of Canada
  • short-term fee-for-service arrangements, such as an annual contract for an online platform
  • provision of professional development and related travel expenditures including accommodation costs, private vehicle mileage allowances and daily meal allowances for provincial or territorial staff
  • expenses related to activities taking place in provincial or territorial schools in support of First Nations students. These expenses are to be covered by the partnering provincial or territorial school
  • activities associated with health and health related issues, first-aid training, mental health coordinators, psychologists, suicide prevention, mental wellness retreats
  • activities that are covered by the Canadian Heritage's Indigenous language legislation, such as:
    • language and curriculum materials
    • curriculum personnel
    • cultural and heritage activity workers and elders
    • land-based education programming equipment
  • door prizes, swag bags and gifts

To find out more about the program funded under Canadian Heritage's Indigenous language legislation, visit:

To find out more about ISC's funding programs, visit:

6.3 Maximum administration costs

Eligible administration costs include only the actual costs associated directly with administering the proposal and may be calculated based on the total funding requested for activities to a maximum of 15% of the requested funding.

Eligible administration costs include, but are not limited to:

  • clerical support
  • office space and utilities
  • administrative overhead, such as:
    • stationary and office materials
    • cell phones and office telephones
    • individual IT equipment
  • 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

When a funding recipient further transfers funds that were received under this component, to a third party, 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 the sub-total amount requested before administration costs.

7. Proposal process and assessment criteria

Applicants must complete and submit a proposal and the deadline for proposal submission is March 8, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. The amount of funding allocated to recipients is based on the number, eligibility and merit of proposals submitted relative to the available budget. Therefore, eligible proposals might not be fully funded.

Applicants that received funding in 2023 to 2024 should submit their Deferred Revenue Plan together with their proposal application.

7.1 Submission of proposals

Beginning in 2024 to 2025, a new online proposal data collection instrument (DCI) is being introduced. Applicants will be required to have an Education Information System (EIS) account to access the online DCI through the ISC services portal.

All proposals must be submitted to ISC using the official 2024 to 2025 DCI PDF or online version. Both DCI documents specify the mandatory information. Refer to the DCI's View instructions button for assistance.

Applicants who have access to the ISC services portal can access the online proposal DCI form by opening a session on the ISC services portal and completing the proposal online. Applicants who do not have access to the portal should contact their ISC regional office.

Applicants who are applying to the Partnerships component can only submit a single-year proposal.

7.2 Assessment criteria

Proposals will be assessed based on applicant eligibility, as well as the eligible activities and merit criteria as outlined in section 5.

The mandatory DCI fields must be completed with clear information. Missing information, or the lack of clarity, will directly impact the assessment of the proposal and additional information or revisions may be requested. Failure to provide additional information within reasonable timelines may result in the proposal being denied entirely.

The proposal merit criteria, as further outlined in the DCI, is as follows:

  • capacity: applicants are required to describe their related experience, expertise or capacity to undertake the proposed activities
  • commitment and support: applicants must confirm that the proposal has the support of communities, schools and partners
  • implementation plan: the extent to which the proposed activities support the objective of the requested funding
  • activity costs: the amount of requested funding should clearly align with the nature of the activity

7.3 Review and approval process

Proposals will be reviewed by ISC and applicants will receive written confirmation of the funding decisions.

8. Funding

8.1 Funding recipients

A funding recipient is a successful applicant who has signed a funding agreement with ISC.

8.2 Duration of funding

2024 to 2025 approved funding will be provided through a 1-year contribution agreement.

A given year's level of approved funding does not guarantee funding or the same level of funding in following years.

Recipients are required to report 2024 to 2025 deferred or surplus funding to ISC by June 30, 2025, with their final report, using the Deferred/Surplus Funding Plan annexed to their 2024 to 2025 funding decision letter.

8.3 Funding approaches

Transfer payments to Partnerships funding recipients will be made using fixed contribution.

Set contribution may be used if the recipient so wishes.

ISC regional officers can provide information on the eligibility requirements of these funding approaches and 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.

Unexpended funding:

Recipients may not carry over unexpended funding remaining at the end of the fiscal year. Unspent funds are subject to repayment to Canada.

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 Partnerships component of the program.

Unexpended funding:

Recipients may retain unexpended funding from a fiscal year to expend in the 1-year period immediately following the fiscal year for which it was provided, on eligible activities and expenditures outlined in these guidelines.

8.4 No duplication of funding

The Partnerships funding component is designed to be flexible in order to address shared partnership priorities. This component is not designed to supplement or duplicate funding for activities funded by other programs, including ISC's Elementary and Secondary Education Program.

9. Reporting requirements and monitoring and oversight activities

9.1 Reporting requirements

The reporting requirements, such as program reports and financial reports and their respective due dates are listed in the recipient's funding agreement and details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide.

Recipients must report on all funds received and expended, including the use of unexpended funding they were able to retain to use in the following fiscal year. Consult the funding approaches section of these guidelines for details on the use of unexpended funds.

Recipients who have access to the ISC Services portal can access the reporting forms by opening a session on the portal. Recipients who do not have access to the portal should contact their regional office.

Recipients of funding in 2024 to 2025 are responsible for completing a final report and submitting it to the ISC regional office or uploading reporting to the ISC Services portal by June 30, 2025.

The final report should be completed using the pre-populated report data collection instrument (DCI).

If the funded work has not concluded, final reporting should also include a deferred revenue plan which outlines information on next steps and timelines.

Under the terms and conditions of a Contribution Funding Agreement, recipients of funding are required to submit final reports each fiscal year. Commencing with the 2024 to 2025 Call for proposals process, applications will not be given consideration where there are outstanding Education Partnerships Program final reports from 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023.

9.2 Monitoring and oversight

To ensure that the program or strategy outcomes and objectives are being met and opportunities for continuous improvement with a goal to improve results for Indigenous peoples are being identified, activities including audits, evaluations, and targeted program or strategic reviews may be conducted in collaboration with the recipient, for example, desk and on-site reviews.

10. Personal information

ISC's collection and use of personal information and other records for the purposes of targeted program reviews, for example, desk and on-site reviews, will be limited to what is necessary to ensure that the Education Partnerships Program delivery requirements are met.

ISC 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, R.S.C., 1985, c. p-21 and other related policies on privacy.

Recipients are responsible for the protection of personal information as per provincial privacy statutes and regulations and the recipient's policies up to the point that the personal information is transferred to ISC.

11. Accountability

ISC is committed to providing assistance and mutual accountability to recipients and partners in order to help them effectively carry out their obligations under these guidelines and their funding agreements.

Recipients, including First Nations designated organizations, must:

12. Contact information

To find out more, consult the Education Partnerships Program web page.

Visit the ISC regional offices page to find your regional office contact.

You can also write to:

Education Branch
Regional Partnerships Directorate
Indigenous Services Canada
10 rue Wellington – Suite 1455, Mailstop 25E-19
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H4

To learn more about education programs, consult the national program guidelines or the View instructions button on the first page of this program's DCI.

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