National Indian Education Association
March 2020 | Issue 4
Advancing comprehensive, culture-based, educational opportunities since 1969
In the News
Congress Passes Coronavirus Bills Into Law
Since the beginning of March, Congress has taken rapid action to address the immediate needs of schools and communities to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Since this time, NIEA has engaged with our tribes, schools, and communities to ensure that our students and schools have access to the resources to needed now and in the coming months.

On March 14, Congress passed the second coronavirus stiumulus bill, known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6201), which included several provisions to support the needs of students and schools, including waivers to support flexibility for school lunch and meal programs

A much more extensive third package, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R.748), passed Congress on March 27. Authorizing over $2.2 trillion in emergency stimulus relief, this legislation included the following key pieces to support Native students across the nation:

Department of Interior
  • $69 million for Bureau of Indian Education Operations, including $20 million for Tribal Colleges and Universities; and

Department of Education
  • $153.75 million (0.5 percent) set aside for schools and programs funded through the Bureau of Indian in the Department of Education's $30.75 billion Education Education Stabilization Fund,
  • $153.75 million (0.5 percent) set aside for states with the highest COVID-19 burden,
  • $13.23 billion to state educational agencies to make available for public elementary and secondary school in the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and
  • $13.95 billion to institutions of higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Of these amounts, 7.5 percent, or $1.04 billion is targeted to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Servicing Institutions (MSIs), including Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).

Department of Health and Human Services
  • $750 million for making payments under the Head Start program, and
  • Up to $500 million will be available for operating supplemental summer programs to existing grantees determined most ready to operate those programs by the Office of Head Start.

Department of Agriculture
  • $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition Programs, available until Sept. 30, 2021 to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
Standards, Assessments, and Accountability Waivers
Due to the extraordinary circumstances presented school closures prompted by the spread of COVID-19, Secretary DeVos provided all states, including the Bureau of Indian Education, flexibility for assessments and accountability in the coming year. In a letter dated March 20, the Secretary invited States to apply for waivers related to the following sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act:

  • Assessment Requirements in Section 1111(b)(2),
  • Accountability and School Identification Requirements in Sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D), and
  • Certain Reporting Requirements Related to Assessments and Accountability in Section 1111(h).

As authorized by the CARES Act on March 27, Congress also recognized tribal authority to request such waivers.
Available Resources
What types of resources would be most useful in addressing COVID-19 in your school community?
Technical Assistance
Virtual Curriculum or Educational Packets
NIEA's Legislative Team at Work
In the Administration
BIE Releases Final Regulations on Standards, Assessments, and Accountability
On March 26, the Bureau of Indian Education released new standards, assessments and accountability regulations for BIE schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act. As finalized, these rules will govern the development of a new system of standards, assessments, and accountability, which will be implemented in Bureau-funded schools during the 2020-2021 school year.

The new rules are set to go into effect on April 27, 2020.
ED Opens Application Period for Title VI Formula Grants
The Department of Education issued a notice inviting applications for new awards for Title VI Indian Education Formula Grants to Local Educational Agencies under Fiscal Year 2020. These grants support local educational agencies (LEAs), tribes and organizations, and other eligible entities in developing and implementing programs that meet the unique cultural and academic needs of Native students.

Applicants must meet the deadlines for both Part I and Part II of the Electronic Application System for Indian Education (EASIE) to be eligible to receive the grant. Relevant deadlines are included below.

Deadline for Transmittal of EASIE Part I
Updated! March 12, 2020
Part II of EASIE Applications Available
April 6, 2020
Deadline for Transmittal of EASIE Part II
May 21, 2020
BIA Seeks Proposals for National Tribal Broadband Grant
The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) is seeking proposals from tribes to fund feasibility studies for deployment or expansion of high-speed internet (broadband). Such grants may be used to fund any of the following activities:

  • An assessment of the current broadband services, if any, that are available to an applicant's community;
  • An engineering assessment of new or expanded broadband services;
  • An estimate of the cost of building or expanding a broadband network;
  • A determination of the transmission medium(s) that will be employed;
  • Identification of potential funding and/or financing for the network; and
  • Consideration of financial and practical risks associated with developing a broadband network.

Applications will be accepted until May 8, 2020 
ED Opens Application for American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services
The Department of Education issued a notice inviting applications for fiscal year 2020 for American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services. The purpose of this program is to provide culturally appropriate vocational rehabilitation services to American Indians with disabilities who reside on or near tribal lands, so that the individual may prepare for, and engage in, high-quality employment that will increase opportunities for economic self-sufficiency

Applications will be accepted until May 26, 2020
OIE Seeks Peer Reviewers for Discretionary Grant Program Competions
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education is looking for highly qualified individuals to assist in the review process for the following discretionary grant program competitions this spring and summer:

  • State Tribal Education Partnership (STEP)
  • Indian Education Professional Development program (PD)
  • Native American Language (NAL@ED)
  • Demonstration Grant (formerly known as Native Youth Community Projects)

The deadline for consideration is June 15, 2020
HHS Hosts Annual Budget Tribal Consultation
Due to the growing spread of COVID-19 and concerns around mass gatherings, this year's HHS Annual Tribal Budget Consultation will be through written comments. HHS will host one virtual session to provide technical assistance on the HHS budget process, as well as a round table with tribal and HHS leaders on from 1PM-4PM (EST) on April 8. Additional dial-in information will be provided at a later date.

Written testimony should now be submitted by Friday, May 1, 2020. Testimony can be emailed to . Since this year's consultation session will be different than previous years, we recommend that Tribes include an executive summary, along with their written testimony.
Native Education Meetings and Events
March 29-April 1, 2020
**Rescheduled as a
Virtual Conference
April 6-7, 2020
**Rescheduled as a
Virtual Conference
April 9-11, 2020
Washington, DC
**Postponed - Date TBD
Milwaukee, WI
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Contact Us
Chris Topoleski
Legislative Director

Adrianne Elliott
Senior Legislative Associate