Information Session and Call for Proposals – Post-Secondary Education Fund for Aboriginal Learners

From: Shannon Simpson, Director, Office of Indigenous Initiatives
Date: May 27, 2021
Re: Information Session and Call for Proposals – Post-Secondary Education Fund for Aboriginal Learners

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII) will be holding an information session on the Post-Secondary Education Fund for Aboriginal Learners (PEFAL) on June 15th, 2021, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. This information session, open to all U of T faculty, staff, and students, will provide more information on PEFAL, including its guidelines, to support interested applicants. It will also provide a forum for sharing best practices, potential ideas and fostering intra-university partnership. Any interested parties wanting to join the information session are to email

Relatedly, OII is inviting the U of T community to submit their PEFAL application by July 16, 2021. The proposals should articulate the purpose of the project, its budget and outline benefits to Indigenous learners in 3 pages or less. Completed proposals and related questions are to be emailed to Funding for U of T projects is subject to the approval of PEFAL funding by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) for 2021-2022.

PEFAL came out of the 2011 MCU’s Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training (APSET) Policy Framework, which set out to guide the development of policies and programs to close the education attainment and labour market outcomes gap for Indigenous learners and enhance the Indigenous student experience. Out of the Framework came PEFAL’s Indigenous Student Success Fund – proposal-based funding to colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes for student-focused services and programs that increase the number of Indigenous learners accessing and completing postsecondary education and training. It currently goes to 45 colleges and universities, including U of T, across Ontario.

Currently, the fund is administered through the OII, which oversees Indigenous programs supported by the fund, while offering leadership and strategic guidance on furthering Indigenous initiatives on all 3 U of T campuses. PEFAL funding is monitored centrally, in order to ensure programs adhere to guidelines set by the MCU, and yearly reporting on all funded-programs is relayed back to MCU in order to inform the Province on the success of their Aboriginal Postsecondary Education & Training Policy.

The OII is focusing on three priorities for the 2021-22 year:

  1. Supporting new initiatives by using PEFAL funding as seed funding: Proposals for new hires or continued programming that can demonstrate financial commitment from departments/divisions/units after a 2-3-year period of initial seed funding from PEFAL. This ensures programming continuity for Indigenous students and will embed regular Indigenous programming into divisional budgets going forward.
  • Collaboration Projects: Initiatives that use collaborations and partnerships to deliver programming, events, and projects. Efforts will be made to increase transparency, and link programs and individuals who have similar programming ideas and/or target audiences.
  • Student-Focused Indigenous Events: Large events that would benefit Indigenous students’ academic experience, aid with community building amongst peer groups, and/or enhance a component of coursework are supported and encouraged. Examples include: in-province conferences; experiential day trips; student workshops featuring Indigenous scholars, artists, or academics; Indigenous events on campus, etc.

Thank you to all past units, and we look forward to working with you to grow Indigenous initiatives going forward.