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U.S. Department of Agriculture: Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program (SPECA)

Deadline: March 10, 2017

The Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants (SPECA) program seeks to: (a) promote and strengthen secondary education and two-year postsecondary education in the food, agriculture, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences in order to help ensure the existence of a workforce in the United States that’s qualified to serve the FANH sciences system; and (b) promote complementary and synergistic linkages among secondary, two-year postsecondary, and higher education programs in the FANH sciences in order to advance excellence in education and encourage more young Americans to pursue and complete a baccalaureate or higher degree in the FANH sciences.

SPECA Program Goals:

  1. To enhance the quality of K-14 instruction in order to help meet current and future national food, agricultural, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences workplace needs.
  2. To increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue and complete a 2- or 4-year degree in the FANH sciences.

SPECA-funded projects 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. SPECA-funded projects with the potential to demonstrate a state or regional impact on increasing the number, quality, diversity, and retention of K-14 level students who pursue a higher FANH sciences degree, are highly encouraged. The talent pipeline for the agriculture workforce begins well before college admission and a focus on secondary programs holds tremendous potential to increase not only the number, but the diversity, of students entering baccalaureate programs, a requisite for the innovation needed in the FANH sciences. Accordingly, SPECA-funded project activities shall support the creation, adaptation, and adoption of learning materials and teaching strategies to operationalize what we know about how students learn.

Applicant projects must support for-credit, academic instruction with a primary focus in at least one of the following three K-14 Grade Levels:

  • Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom: Projects specifically developed by or for the state Agriculture in the Classroom program (Note: A letter of support from the relevant state AITC organization endorsing the project, clarifying the absence of duplication with existing materials or projects, and explaining its implementation process into the academic system must accompany applications submitted in this Program Category)
  • Secondary School: Projects with a specific focus on any of the academic grades 9 through 12
  • Junior or Community College: Projects with a specific focus on associate degree level (2-year postsecondary) activities

Amount: Approximately $858,000 is available. Planning grants will be made of up to $25,000; regular grants will be made of up to $50,000. Collaborative grants support projects with at least one additional partner or a multi-partner approach to enhance education/teaching programs and will be made of up to $150,000 for one additional partner or up to $300,000 for at least two additional partners.

Eligibility: Public secondary schools; public or private nonprofit junior and community colleges; institutions of higher education; or nonprofit organizations.

Link: https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/secondary-education-two-year-postsecondary-education-and-agriculture-k-12

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