Education Partnerships Program: Regional Education Agreement 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.

ISC's transformative education policy framework aims to fundamentally improve the way ISC funds First Nations elementary and secondary education, while supporting regional and local diversity and increased First Nations control of First Nations education.

This education policy framework is informed by the Transforming First Nations Elementary and Secondary Education Policy Proposal (2017), co-developed by the Assembly of First Nations, the National Indian Education Council and ISC. The framework provides the funding supports for First Nations to address their education goals and priorities of their students, schools and communities.

ISC provides funding to support the following activities which are expanded upon in section 4 and section 6:

The development of an REA is optional. First Nations may choose to develop an REA to facilitate greater control of education through education systems they design. The REA can formalize First Nations-determined distribution of core education funding, for example, education service map in accordance with the Elementary and Secondary Education Program's kindergarten to grade 12 terms and conditions and provide funding stability and predictability in support of the delivery of elementary and secondary education.

REAs can be based on the current interim regional funding formula allocations or can be based on funding levels beyond the interim regional funding formula allocations in order to improve student outcomes not achievable with the interim regional funding formula allocations.

Where REAs are based on current kindergarten to grade 12 authorities and the interim regional funding formula allocations, ISC can conclude or sign them without seeking central agency approval.

Where REAs are to be based on amended or new authorities and funding beyond the interim regional funding formula allocations, central agency approval is required first in order to conclude or sign them.

ISC can assist with the development of the First Nations' request for needs-based funding for central agency consideration. Needs-based funding required to improve student outcomes must clearly demonstrate:

REAs must address the following 4 pillars:

The regional aspect of an actual REA is defined as any territory which First Nations choose to implement First Nations control of First Nations education and negotiate or renegotiate a First Nations REA. This can include, but is not limited to, a territory defined as a:

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

2. Objective

REA funding is intended to support First Nations in establishing information sessions related to education transformation, technical tables and negotiating or renegotiating an education agreement supported by leadership. These activities are related to, but not limited to:

3. Eligible recipients

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

First Nations organizations mandated by First Nations must demonstrate support in writing from the First Nations, such as but not limited to, a band council resolution, letter or email of support.

Where the applicant is engaging in the development or renewal of an REA, a band council resolution from each participating First Nations is required prior to or concurrent with submitting a proposal.

Entities such as bands or First Nations organizations that are delivering education services under a self-government arrangement are not eligible to apply to the REA component.

4. Eligible activities

REA funding is provided to support the following activities:

5. Expenditures

5.1 Eligible expenditures

Subject to section 5.2, 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 Travel Directive, excluding incidental allowances
  • meeting costs including facility rentals, meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment rentals and hospitality
  • professional services, consulting fees or Elder engagement, daily rates and duration of contract(s) must be clearly stated
  • honoraria for Elders, Knowledge Keepers, cultural and ceremonial drummers and dancers
  • legal advice, excluding litigation costs

5.2 Ineligible expenditures

Ineligible expenditures include, but may not be limited to:

  • provincial tuition or activities related to core programming
  • activities related to the negotiation or renegotiation and implementation of self-government agreements
  • infrastructure, construction, operation or maintenance of federal and First Nations school facilities
  • travel outside Canada
  • 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
  • door prizes, swag bags and gifts

5.3 Maximum administration costs

Eligible administration costs include only actual costs associated directly with administering the REA 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:
    • stationery 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 report 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.

6. Proposal process and assessment criteria

Beginning April 1, 2024, applicants should submit proposals to their respective ISC regional office. Deadline for proposal submission is June 15, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. Applicants who are applying to the REA component can only submit a single-year proposal.

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

As proposals are received by ISC regional offices, they will be assessed based on applicant eligibility, detailed breakdown of the eligible components and activities as outlined in section 4 and the clear information provided in the proposal. Proposals must include:

The amount of funding allocated to recipients is based on the number, eligibility and merit of proposals submitted in the respective region, relative to the regional allocation. Therefore, eligible proposals may not be fully funded. Regional allocations will be reviewed annually.

The mandatory proposal sections 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.

7. Funding

7.1 Funding recipients

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

7.2 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 of REA component funding 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.

7.3 Funding approaches

Transfer payments to REA 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 Regional Education Agreement 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.

7.4 No duplication of funding

The REA funding component is not designed to duplicate funding for activities funded by other programs, nor to supplement funding from other program areas, such as core education funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Program.

8. Reporting requirements and monitoring and oversight activities

8.1 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 ISC regional office.

Recipients of REA component 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 Activities and Expenditures 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.

Information to highlight in reporting can include:

  • service map
  • outline of roles and responsibilities of First Nations and First Nations education organizations
  • mutual accountability mechanisms
  • agreement, draft or final

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

8.2 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.

9. 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 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.

10. Accountability

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

Regional offices and other ISC contacts are available to answer questions and provide guidance related to ISC programs and funding.

Recipients must:

11. 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.

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