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National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program

image for EPA's National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program EPA coordinates the National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program, which aims to strengthen tribal capacity and develop sustainable waste management programs. Peer matches are voluntary, structured opportunities for tribes and Alaska Native Villages who are working on similar issues to exchange experiences and practical knowledge through a mentoring program. This program allows tribes and Alaska Native Villages to address a particular challenge, such as designing and supervising construction of a transfer station.

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Program Overview

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP) authorize EPA to provide technical and financial assistance to tribes in developing and implementing tribal waste management programs.

Peer matching can be an effective mechanism for tribes to promote best waste management practices as well as to build sustainable waste management programs consistent with the requirements of RCRA. As a result, EPA established the National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program.

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Definition of “Peer Match”

Under this program, a peer match is a voluntary exchange of information and best practices between tribes. A tribe with expertise provides technical assistance to a tribe with defined program development or implementation technical assistance needs in that same subject area. Upon agreeing to participate in a match, the tribe with technical expertise (the “mentoring tribe”) mentors the tribe(s) requesting assistance (the “mentee tribe”). The mentoring process is intended to complete a specific technical task such as conducting a waste characterization study, designing and supervising construction of a transfer station, writing an Integrated Waste Management Plan (IWMP), establishing a fee collection system, establishing enforcement codes, etc. Peer matching can be a productive and cost-effective method for tribes to provide technical assistance to each other on a wide range of waste- related topics.

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Peer Matching Process

Peer matching is a collaborative process between tribes where matches are based on an identified need and is supported by EPA Headquarters and regions. The following is a four-step process that tribes should use when volunteering to participate in EPA's National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program:

  1. The tribe completes the Request for Participants Form.
  2. EPA identifies a tribal peer match with the appropriate expertise and confirms his/her availability to mentor or provide technical assistance a tribe. In addition, EPA may ask a few questions to further assess the tribe's needs. EPA provides contact information to both tribes.
  3. The tribes will work collaboratively to define and address the needs of the tribe requesting assistance.
  4. As requested, EPA provides facilitation (e.g., periodic conference calls and/or meetings) or other support to ensure that project goals are met.

All matched tribes are expected to maintain regular communication and follow through with the volunteered commitment for assistance.

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Available Funding

Limited funding for peer matches made under the National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program may be available.

Indian Environmental General Assistance Program

EPA provides General Assistance Program (GAP) grants to federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia for planning, developing, and establishing environmental protection programs in Indian country, as well as for developing and implementing solid and hazardous waste programs on tribal lands. Tribes interested in serving as technical assistance providers or recipients as part of the National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program may submit peer match project proposals to EPA’s regional offices under the Request for Participants Form to EPA (see below for process). Once the participation form is reviewed by EPA for eligibility and completeness it will be shared with the headquarters (HQ) GAP program. The HQ GAP program will share with the information with the appropriate regional office who will work with the GAP grantee to submit a peer match project proposal under the applicable fiscal year Indian Environmental General Assistance Program.

These GAP proposals should identify the tribe(s) that will participate in the program and benefits from providing/receiving technical assistance under the grant. They should also specify the specific program development milestones that will result from the project consistent with the Guidance on the Award and Management of General Assistance Agreements for Tribes and Intertribal Consortia. Beneficiaries of the peer match should have waste program development goals as part of their EPA-Tribal Environmental Plan (ETEP) under GAP.

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Travel Scholarships

EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery will provide funding in FY 2015 through the Tribal Waste Management Capacity Building Training Grant awarded to the Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP).This Tribal Waste Management Capacity Building Training Grant will provide financially assist tribes that voluntarily participate in EPA National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program. Funding from this grant can only be used to cover travel expenses.

ITEP will be awarding up to seven travel scholarships to cover participant’s transportation, lodging, and per diem expenses. To request a travel scholarship, please contact Todd Barnell at todd.barnell@nau.edu.

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Frequent Questions

  • When is it appropriate to request support through the Peer Matching Program?

    Peer matches work well when the tribe requesting a mentor:

    • Has identified a specific challenge, such as development of an Integrated Waste Management Plan or waste enforcement codes, construction and operation of a transfer station, recycling facility, landfill, or best practices for pollution prevention, recycling programs, etc.
    • Is approaching a key decision point in the design or implementation of a solution.
    • Has limited funding for travel or associated costs for formal training.
    • Anticipates the project will be completed within a one-year timeframe.
  • Who are the Peer Mentors?

    Peer mentors are tribal environmental personnel who can provide expertise and experience to tribes requesting mentoring. Mentors volunteer to participate in the program. A list of potential needs by a tribe and a list of mentors that are available to assist in mentoring will be included on the Program Participants page when it is launched. A mentor is not intended to take the place of a general contractor, consultant, or other services that are traditionally paid positions.

  • How does the Peer Matching Program work?

    Through facilitated discussion, the mentor and the mentee work together to carefully analyze the questions at hand and develop viable options for action. In this way, peer matches capitalize on the knowledge and expertise of people intimately working on environmental issues to protect human health and the environment. As always, peer matches are voluntary.

  • What is the process for participating in the Peer Matching Program?
    • The tribe requesting a mentor completes the Request for Participants Form.
    • EPA confirms receipt of the request and may ask a few questions to further assess the tribe’s needs.
    • EPA identifies a tribal peer mentor with the appropriate expertise and confirms his/her availability to assist the tribe requesting assistance. EPA provides contact information to both tribes.
    • The tribes will work collaboratively to define and address the needs of the tribe requesting assistance.
    • As requested, EPA provides facilitation (e.g., periodic conference calls and/or meetings) or other support to ensure that project goals are met.

    All matched tribes are expected to maintain regular communication and follow throughout with the volunteered commitment for assistance.

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Resources

Contact Us

Contact name:  Tonya Hawkins
Phone number: (703) 308-8278
Email: TribalPeerMatch@epa.gov
Mailing Address:
National Tribal Waste Management Peer Matching Program
Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery
U.S. EPA
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Mail Code 5303P
Washington, DC 20460

You may also use the form below to send us comments and/or questions. Be sure to include your email address if you would like a response.