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How Tribes Can Apply For VW Settlement Funds

The information presented here is intended to provide a general overview of how to apply for funds from the Tribal Trust. For more information see the documents and websites linked at the bottom of this page, and the additional page links to the left. And at any time please feel free to contact ITEP using the "Click Here for Assistance" link to the left!

The Modified Trust Agreement

The terms of the Tribal Trust are laid out in a Trust Agreement negotiated by the EPA and the Department of Justice, which was modified in 2018 after a legal challenge. View the complete text of the Modified Trust Agreement.

What Kinds of Projects Can the Trust Fund?

Appendix D-2 of the Modified Trust Agreement describes ten project categories that can be funded under the Tribal Trust. Primarily these projects involve replacing or repowering various types of diesel vehicles or equipment, but there are also options to use some of the funds to install electric vehicle charging equipment, or to tie in with the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program. See the link below to download Appendix D-2 and read details about the different categories.

Appendix D-2: Trust Agreement For Indian Tribe Beneficiaries Eligible Mitigation Actions

Here is a detailed list of vehicles that eligible Tribal beneficiaries may use to replace or repower utilizing funding from the settlement.

Click HERE to view.

Overview of How to Apply for Funds

Applying for funds from the VW Settlement’s Indian Tribe Trust involves submitting various forms and documents to the court and to the Trustee (the bank holding the funds in the Trust). The image below shows an overview of the process. (The dates in this image and the text below refer to the second annual funding cycle, for the year 2019. If you miss these deadlines you can still participate in later funding cycles, which continue each year through 2021.)

Trustee: Wilmington Trust

After browsing this website and contacting ITEP if needed, the next step in the process of applying for funds is to contact the Trustee and establish a relationship with them. The Trustee for the settlement is Wilmington Trust. You can find updates and additional information on the settlement by visiting Indian Tribe Trust. To contact the Trustee, click the link near the top of their website that says "Contact Us.

Becoming a Beneficiary

After establishing a relationship with the Trustee, Tribes interested in participating in the settlement need to submit a legal document (Appendix D-3 of the Modified Trust Agreement) with the Court and the Trustee by March 18th, 2019 to become a Beneficiary of the Trust. Becoming a Beneficiary allows the Tribe to participate in the 2019 and any successive funding cycles for the Trust.

Preparing and Submitting a Plan

Tribes that have been designated as Beneficiaries can now put together their plans for how they will use funds from the Trust to replace or repower vehicles or equipment. Completing a vehicle inventory is a good place to start, listing out all diesel vehicles in the Tribe’s fleet with their vehicle identification numbers (VINs). ITEP can provide a template for this, and the Tribe or ITEP can use an online VIN decoder (see link below to determine which vehicles may be eligible for replacement or repowering under the Modified Trust Agreement. Tribes may also wish to research electric vehicle charging equipment, or other possible uses for funds from the Trust.

Once the allocation amounts are announced in the beginning of July and each Beneficiary knows how much money they can access from the Trust this year, they can prepare a detailed plan showing what they will do with their allocation. Appendix D-4 of the Modified Trust Agreement is the form used for this, along with several required attachments. After submitting the Appendix D-4 and attachments to the Trustee, the documents are reviewed by the Trustee and by ITEP to ensure they meet the terms of the Modified Trust Agreement. Projects that meet the terms are approved by the Trustee, and funds are disbursed in the middle of November.

For More Information

ITEP VW Technical Assistance Program Work Plan and Budget [pdf]
Full Modified Trust Agreement for Indian Tribe Beneficiaries including all Appendices [pdf]
VW Settlement Second Funding Cycle Fact Sheet [pdf]
Trustee's Notice of the Second Funding Cycle [pdf]
NTAA VW Settlement Work Group
Use this site to look up your vehicle specifics such as class rating on the vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number).