Funding: Skills and Partnership Fund
Aboriginal organizations, including those who are not current Aboriginal agreement holders, may be eligible for funding under the Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF). The purpose of the SPF is to:
- drive innovation in service delivery and systems through partnership (system improvement);
- respond to economic partnership opportunities with targeted labour force development initiatives (training-to-employment); and
- address program delivery weaknesses and/or gaps in Canada's network of Aboriginal organizations that provide labour market services (service delivery gaps).
We are not currently accepting applications.
Who can apply?
Only Aboriginal organizations are eligible to submit concept papers. This may include (but is not limited to):
- Incorporated for-profit and not-for-profit Aboriginal controlled organizations,
- Aboriginal-controlled unincorporated organizations,
- Indian Act bands,
- Band or tribal councils, and
- Aboriginal self-government entities.
An organization may be eligible for multi-year agreements, based on the strength of the project proposal.
Definition of Aboriginal Organization
As per Treasury Board Aboriginal Business Procurement Policy and Incentives – Contracting Policy Notice 1996-2, the following definition of Aboriginal organizations applies:
- A sole proprietorship, limited company, cooperative, partnership, or not for profit organization;
- In which Aboriginal persons have majority ownership and control, meaning at least 51 percent; and
- In which, in the case of a business enterprise with six or more full-time employees, at least 33 percent of the full-time employees are Aboriginal persons.
SPF funds innovative Aboriginal labour market development activities that:
- Pilot innovations in service delivery and systems through partnership;
- Respond to economic and partnership opportunities with targeted labour force development initiatives;
- Address program delivery weaknesses and/or gaps in Canada's network of Aboriginal organizations that provide labour market services; and
Eligible activities can include:
- Training-to-employment such as: job-specific education, skills training and apprenticeships; job retention counselling; job supports including child care for parents participating in labour market programming; financial incentives to encourage individuals to accept employment; targeted programming (e.g. youth, women, persons with disabilities, urban, rural, off-reservation); and self-employment programming.
- Aboriginal training-to-employment activities must demonstrate partnership with private sector, not-for profit, and/or public sector organizations (e.g. cost-sharing with employers, provincial/territorial governments, and/or other organizations).
- Skills development such as: essential skills training for multi-barriered clients in partnership with organizations that serve multi-barriered clients; training for youth on how to find jobs, build skills, explore career options and plan for the future; entrepreneurship training to help individuals start and manage their own business; and work experience opportunities.
- Skills development activities must demonstrate new approaches and partnerships to enhancing the employability of clients.
As an example, innovative service improvement eligible activities can include:
- Service improvement such as: innovative business processes to improve service delivery to Aboriginal clients; innovations in client-focused service delivery and case management; human resource training for service providers; development of training tools and work support tools; policy development and collaboration; initiating and sustaining federal, provincial, municipal, not-for-profit and private sector partnerships; and coordination among ASETS agreement holders sub-agreements, points of service and other service providers to identify opportunities for greater economies of scale.
- Service improvement activities must demonstrate partnerships.
Difference between support and partnership
There is a significant difference between support and partnership. A supporter endorses a project, whereas a partner makes a contribution and plays an active role. Partnership contributions (whether cash or in-kind) must account for a minimum of 50% of the total project value. An applicant may not identify a separate department or division of its own organization as the sole partner. Your concept paper must identify confirmed and potential partners and their expected contributions to the project.
- Cash contributions are funds given by a partner to the applicant organization, deposited in the organization's bank account, and used toward eligible project costs.
- In-kind contributions are goods or services contributed to the project for which the partners will not request reimbursement. An eligible in-kind contribution must be:
- Essential to the project's success;
- Based on a logical and realistic cost breakdown. In-kind contributions can only be recognized when fair value can be reasonably estimated.
Although not mandatory, applicants are strongly encouraged to engage the provincial or territorial government (including provincial or territorial ministries and publicly funded colleges and universities) as a partner for the project.
Your concept paper should also show the potential number of job commitments from each employer partner.
Sample Partner Commitment Letter
A template partner commitment letter is provided as a sample. However, a commitment letter is not mandatory during the concept stage. If you choose to submit a partner commitment letter, use of the template is highly recommended to ensure that partner letters include a sufficient level of detail and commitment and explain how the partner will participate in the project.
Eligible project costs include:
- Project administration and overhead costs such as wages and benefits, rental of office space, telephones, etc. that are directly related to the administration or delivery of the project;
- Equipment rental (capital asset purchases may be allowed where it can be demonstrated to be more cost-effective over the life of the project) such as computers, office equipment, etc.;
- Materials and supplies directly related to the project;
- Cost associated with printing, translation and dissemination of project reports;
- Communications activities and material including promotional material and activities, through print, web-based and other media;
- Costs related to clients such as counselling, mentoring, skills testing and needs evaluation, pre-employment training, post-secondary training, apprenticeship training, technical training, on site training, literacy, essential skills training;
- Income support for clients such as allowances, wage subsidies or wage simulations, accommodation and transportation;
- Costs for the provision of food to participants in training activities where it provides nourishment that is considered to contribute to the participants' successful completion of their training;
- Costs of client wages and the employer's share of employment-related costs for clients;
- Professional fees related to audit, evaluation and assessment;
- Professional fees for expertise not available through the organization or partners (individuals receiving a salary from the sponsoring or partner organizations are not eligible to be paid as consultants). This may include fees for services provided by Aboriginal elders;
- Travel within Canada that is directly related to the project activities; and
- Other costs, which in the opinion of the Minister, are necessary to carry out the project.
The total administration costs, including those of third party organizations, should not exceed 15% of the total contribution. Administration costs over 15% of the total contribution amount may be permitted in special circumstances, provided the justification is reasonable and the costs have been negotiated in advance and approved by Canada.
The maximum contribution payable per eligible project is $10 million. The maximum duration of a contribution agreement shall not exceed five years. As a general guideline, SPF activities will be funded for a maximum of three years. SPF activities must be completed by March 31, 2015; carry-forward of funding past March 31, 2015 will not be permitted and any unexpended balances are debts that must be repaid to Canada. Financial support will be negotiated and where possible and appropriate, costs will be shared by recipients and/or other stakeholders.
Costs not eligible for funding include:
- Capital improvements, such as the construction or renovation of buildings (other than repairs or renovations to support the participation of persons with disabilities);
- Administrative overhead not directly related to the administration of the project;
- International travel;
- Costs associated with fundraising activities;
- Canada Revenue Agency or payroll penalties and interest;
- Traffic fines and penalties;
- Parking passes;
- Food costs, except in cases of the provision of food to participants in training activities where it provides nourishment that is considered to contribute to the participants' successful completion of their training;
- Legal fees and court awards for inappropriate dismissal or other inappropriate/ illegal activity;
- Membership fees for private clubs, etc. (golf clubs, gyms, etc.);
- Staff salary bonuses;
- Purchase of alcoholic beverages;
- Purchase of any illegal substances;
- Mentor wages (under Youth projects); and
- Gifts or payments for recognition (e.g. honoraria, ex gratia payments).
Application Review Process
Proposals and/or applications for assistance to carry out eligible activities must include a strategic plan which outlines the following information. These criteria will be used in assessing applications:
- Organizational Mandate and Values;
- Analysis of Aboriginal Labour Force;
- Labour Market Opportunities and Challenges;
- Resources and Capacity;
- Client Needs;
- Partnership Demands;
- Short, Medium, and Long Term Objectives;
- Desired outcomes with each Objectives; and
- Organizational Performance and Results Measurement.
A national request for proposal process will be primarily, but not exclusively used for the selection of projects over the life cycle of the program. Proposals will be assessed with a view to harmonization with federal and provincial employment initiatives and cooperation and partnership with other departments and Aboriginal organizations. Proposals should also demonstrate how the project will utilize strategic investments to lead to increased employment. Funding may not be available for all activities that meet the eligibility criteria.
Funding recommendations will be made by ESDC. Funding recommendations are based on a balance of factors which may include:
- Scope and duration of activities to be carried out;
- Number of individuals the project proposes to assist;
- Number of jobs the project proposes to fill;
- Likelihood of successful implementation;
- Reasonableness of proposed costs;
- Fair market value of expenditures;
- Community priorities;
- Degree to which the project secures contributions from other partners; and
- Number and cost of other activities being recommended for approval.
The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board may be consulted on the identification and vetting of potential activities.
E-mailed submissions will receive an automated message of acknowledgment. Receipt of concept papers submitted by mail will be acknowledged within 21 calendar day.
This service standard is applicable to all ESDC grants and contributions programs. A service standard is a public commitment to a measurable level of performance that clients can expect under normal circumstances.
Notification of Decision
ESDC will notify applicant organizations about the outcome of the concept paper assessment process in writing. Decisions are final, and applicants have no right of appeal.
The assessment process is competitive; not all submissions under this Call for Concept Papers will be selected.
Applicant organizations should receive a letter with a decision or status update within 60 calendar days of the closing date.
Invitation for Full Proposal
Applicant organizations with concept papers meeting the selection criteria and demonstrating the greatest sector and/or community impacts and the best return on investment will be invited to submit a full proposal.
If an applicant is invited to submit a full proposal, the invitation will include an application kit with information on the requirements for the full proposal, including the following:
- An application and proposal template;
- A detailed budget template;
- A template for partner commitment letters; and
- An applicant guide for completing the proposal templates.
An invitation to submit a full proposal does not constitute approval of SPF funding.
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