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

Deadline: March 18, 2016

The Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (SPECA) Challenge Grants Program will award grants to: (a) promote and strengthen secondary and 2-year postsecondary agriscience and agribusiness education in the K-12 Classroom in order to help ensure a qualified workforce to serve the U.S. food and agricultural sciences system; and (b) promote complementary and synergistic linkages among secondary, 2-year postsecondary, and higher education programs in the food, and agricultural sciences in order to promote excellence in education and to encourage more young Americans to pursue and complete a baccalaureate or higher degree in the food and agricultural 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 food, agricultural, natural resource, and human (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. 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. Funded projects shall also focus on imparting both technical knowledge as well as ‘soft’ skills such as communication, team work, and problem solving, as these are abilities expected by employers.

Proposed 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 (AITC) program (Note: A letter of support from the relevant state AITC organization endorsing your 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 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

Educational needs for the SPECA program include:

  • Curriculum development, instructional delivery systems and expanding student career opportunities
  • Faculty preparation and enhancement for teaching
  • Facilitating interaction with other academic institutions

Amount: $858,500 is available for an unspecified number of awards. A 1:1 match is required.

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

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

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