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U.S. Department of Agriculture: Higher Education Challenge Grants Program

Deadline: May 7, 2018

The Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Program is focused on improving formal, baccalaureate or master’s degree level food, agricultural, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences education and first professional degree-level education in veterinary medicine (DVM). HEC projects provide funding to eligible applicants to help ensure a competent, qualified, and diverse workforce will exist to serve the FANH sciences system. At the same time, HEC-funded projects improve the economic health and viability of communities through the development of degree programs emphasizing new and emerging employment opportunities. Finally, HEC projects address the national challenge to increase the number and diversity of students entering the FANH sciences (i.e., having a FANH sciences workforce representative of the nation’s population). Specifically, HEC Program goals are:

  • To enhance the quality of instruction for baccalaureate degrees, master’s degrees, and first professional degrees in veterinary sciences, in order to help meet current and future workforce needs in the FANH sciences
  • To increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue and complete a postsecondary degree in the FANH sciences

Institutions must demonstrate capacity for, and a significant ongoing commitment to, the teaching of food, agricultural, and human sciences generally, and to the specific need and/or discipline(s) for which a grant is requested. An application must convince a peer panel of a compelling educational challenge; clearly indicate how the proposed methodology is both unique and with merit; offer significant promise of adoption by others; and include a plan for how the project impacts will be sustained once grant funds end.

Projects are to encourage academic institutions, in partnership with organizations and employers, to work collectively to identify and address a state or regional challenge or opportunity facing the FANH sciences education and workforce community; propose comprehensive and coordinated activities to address that challenge or opportunity; make a significant positive impact on the challenge or opportunity being addressed, with the expectation that benefits will continue to accrue after funding ends; encourage broad participation of students traditionally underrepresented in the FANH sciences; be grounded by concepts documented in relevant background literature promoting innovations in education and student learning; and show an awareness of relevant prior institutional experience and expertise.

The following grant types will be awarded:

  • Planning activity: Grants support scientific meetings that bring together educators to identify education/teaching needs, update information, or advance an area of education/teaching. Support for a limited number of meetings will be considered for partial or, if modest, total support. Grants may be used to facilitate strategic planning session(s) required of faculty, industry, professional association, community leaders, or other necessary participants for the specific purpose of developing a formal plan leading to a subsequent submission of a collaborative grant.
  • Regular grant: Grants support targeted original education/teaching projects. An eligible entity may submit a grant application for project activities to be undertaken principally on behalf of its own students or faculty, and to be managed primarily by its own personnel. The applicant executes the project without the requirement of sharing grant funds with other project partners.
  • Collaborative grant type 1: Grants support projects with one additional partner to enhance education/teaching programs. Collaborative grants should build linkages to generate a critical mass of expertise, skill, and technology to address education/teaching programs related to the FANH sciences. The partners must share grant funds. Specifically, the applicant institution will transfer at least one-half of the awarded funds to the other institution participating in the project.
  • Collaborative grant type 2: Grants support projects with the applicant and at least two additional partners to enhance education/teaching programs. Collaborative grants should build linkages to generate a critical mass of expertise, skill, and technology to address education/teaching programs related to the FANH sciences. The additional partners must share grant funds. The applicant submitting a proposal must retain at least 30 percent but not more than 70 percent of the awarded funds and no cooperating entity may receive less than 10 percent of awarded funds. Projects must support a multi-partner approach to solving a major state or regional challenge in FANH sciences education at the baccalaureate, masters, or DVM level. These projects are characterized by multiple partners (each providing a specific expertise) organized and led by a strong applicant with documented project management knowledge and skills to organize and carry out the initiative.

Amount: A total of $4,500,000 is available to fund the following types of grants:

  • Planning activities: Awards range up to $30,000 and have a project period of up to 24 months
  • Regular: Awards range up to $150,000 and have a project period of 24-36 months
  • Collaborative 1: Awards range up to $300,000 and have a project period of 24-36 months
  • Collaborative 2: Awards range up to $750,000 and have a project period of 36 months

Eligibility: (a) U.S. public or private nonprofit colleges and universities offering a baccalaureate or first professional degree in at least one discipline or area of the FANH sciences; (b) land-grant colleges and universities, (including land grant institutions in the Insular Areas); (c) colleges and universities having significant minority enrollments and a demonstrable capacity to carry out the teaching of food and agricultural sciences; and (d) other colleges and universities having a demonstrable capacity to carry out the teaching of food and agricultural sciences. Applications will only be accepted from institutions that are 4-year colleges and universities.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=301301

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