Skip to content

Volkswagen Settlement:

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 fourth, and probably final funding cycle, for the year 2021. (If there is enough money left over at the end of 2021 there is a chance there may be a fifth funding cycle.)

For more information on the different forms required to participate in the VW Settlement see the image below, which describes each form including when the form is due (before or after becoming a beneficiary), who needs to sign, and the purpose of the form. In addition to helping understand the different forms, this can be used to determine the best strategy for getting forms signed and submitted in time to meet deadlines.

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 set of two documents (Appendix D-3 of the Modified Trust Agreement, and the Paragraph 7 Addendum) to both the Court and the Trustee by March 16th, 2021 to become a Beneficiary of the Trust and participate in the 2021 funding cycle (and the fifth funding cycle, if there is one). Note that these documents take some time to complete and submit, and can be submitted at any time during the year, so to be sure you meet the deadline we strongly urge interested Tribes to get started as soon as possible!

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 at the end of June 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 Fourth Funding Cycle Fact Sheet [pdf]
Trustee’s Notice of the Third Funding Cycle [pdf]
NTAA Mobile Sources Work Group
Use this site to look up your vehicle specifics such as class rating on the vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number).