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U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Education and Workforce Development

Deadline: July 19, 2018

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) – Education and Workforce Development (EWD) program addresses projected shortfalls of qualified graduates in the agricultural, food, and renewable natural resources sectors of the U.S. economy. The AFRI EWD has three overarching goals:

1. Enhancing Agricultural Literacy offers institutional grants for in-service training, which will provide K-14 teachers and administrators with increased knowledge of food and agricultural science disciplines and career opportunities, and help them to develop improved curricula to enhance agricultural literacy.

Tied to this goal is the Professional Development for Secondary School Teachers and Educational Professionals (PD- STEP) program. This program seeks to increase the number of K-14 teachers and educational professionals trained in the Food and Agricultural Sciences. Participating teachers are expected to develop skills necessary for integrating food and agricultural science concepts in their classes; explore the opportunities available in the food and agricultural science career paths; and forge mentorships with professional and business leaders, and faculty.

2. Developing Pathways offers undergraduates in agriculture or allied disciplines with the technical and leadership skills required for employment in the agricultural sectors and farming enterprises or in graduate programs. NIFA will award institutional grants that offer internships, externships, practicums, global leadership, study abroad, and/or experiential learning opportunities in research and extension, which will help students develop the critical thinking, problem solving, digital competency, international experiences, and communication skills needed for future employment and/or higher education.

Tied to this goal is the Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates (REEU) program. This program promotes research and extension learning experiences for undergraduates such that upon graduation they may enter the agricultural workforce with exceptional skills. This initiative will allow colleges and universities to provide fellowship opportunities for undergraduate students, including those from underrepresented and economically-disadvantaged groups, minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and universities. Projects may provide students opportunities to: 1) Obtain hands-on experience in research and extension to develop skills necessary to join the agricultural workforce or pursue graduate studies in the food and agricultural sciences; 2) Receive a strong mentoring experience required for success in the food and agricultural sciences; and 3) Participate in research and extension projects or programs that deliver science-based knowledge to individuals and communities to develop leadership skills, including communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills, necessary to support decision making and planning. Program delivery may include students located at eligible institutions locally or nationally, and may use in-person, electronic, or a combination of both, as methods of communication. Extension Projects may also include related matters such as certification programs, in-service training, client recruitment and services, curriculum development, instructional materials and equipment, problem identification, program development and delivery, and innovative instructional methodologies appropriate to informal educational programs.

3. Advancing Science supports graduate and post-graduate education in agriculture and related disciplines. National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) graduate and postdoctoral fellowships program areas will continue to support pre-and postdoctoral trainees respectively. These fellowship awards will also enable interested pre and postdoctoral trainees to obtain training in international research on issues relevant to U.S. agriculture.

This goal is tied to the Predoctoral Fellowships and Postdoctoral Fellowships program. This program helps to develop new scientists and professionals to enter research, education, and extension fields within the food and agricultural sciences. The aim of these fellowships is to cultivate future leaders who are able to solve emerging agricultural challenges of the 21st century.

Amount: A total of $24,100,000 is available. Award ranges are dependent upon program area, as follows:

  • Professional Development for Secondary School Teachers and Educational Professionals (PD-STEP): Budgets for standard grants and strengthening standard grants must not exceed $150,000 total per project for project periods of up to three years.
  • Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates (REEU): Budgets for standard grants and strengthening standard grants must not exceed $400,000 or $500,000 total per project for project periods of four or five years, respectively.
  • Predoctoral Fellowships: Predoctoral Fellowship requests must not exceed $120,000 total per project for project periods of up to two years. Predoctoral Fellowship Grants are not renewable and are limited to a total of $60,000 per year.

Eligibility: Linked to project type as specified below:

1. Research, education, or extension projects: Eligible applicants for single-function research, education, or extension projects include: a) State Agricultural Experiment Station; b) colleges and universities (including junior colleges offering associate degrees or higher); c) university research foundations; d) other research institutions and organizations; e) federal agencies, f) national laboratories; g) private organizations or corporations; h) individuals who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents; and i) any group consisting of two or more of these entities.

2. Integrated projects: Eligible applicants for Integrated Projects include: a) Colleges and universities; b) 1994 Land-Grant Institutions; and c) Hispanic-serving agricultural colleges and universities (see https://nifa.usda.gov/hispanic-serving-agricultural-colleges-and-universities-hsacu).

3. Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) grants: FASE grants strengthen science capabilities in research, education, and/or extension programs. FASE grants are designed to help institutions develop competitive projects, and to attract new scientists and educators into careers in high-priority areas of national need in agriculture, food, and environmental sciences. FASE grants provide support for Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships, New Investigators, and Strengthening Grants. Specific eligibility requirements are detailed below:

  • Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships Grants: These grants provide fellowships to predoctoral and postdoctoral students in the agricultural sciences. The program goals are to prepare the next generation of scientists through doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships. See the solicitation for additional requirements per specific project focus.
  • Strengthening grants: These funds enhance institutional capacity with the goal of leading to future funding in the project area, as well as strengthen the competitiveness of the investigator’s research, education, and/or extension activities. Strengthening Grants consist of seed grants, equipment grants, sabbatical grants, strengthening standard grants, Strengthening Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP) Grants and Strengthening Conference Grants. Strengthening grants are limited to 1) small and mid-sized or minority-serving degree-granting institutions that previously had limited institutional success for receiving federal funds or 2) State Agricultural Experiment Stations or degree-granting institutions eligible for USDA Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) funding (NM is listed). The grants submitted by these institutions are eligible for reserved strengthening funds for research, education, extension, and integrated project grants.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=304480

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