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USDA Announces $1.7 Million to Support Research at Tribal Colleges and Universities

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $1.7 million in funding to build research capacity at land-grant tribal colleges and universities. Funding is made through NIFA’s Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program (TCRGP).
“1994 land-grant universities represent a critically important part of our nation’s construct of academic institutions providing the leadership to address nutritional security amongst tribal populations while protecting our environment and natural resources, and at the same time ensuring young people are receiving education that prepares them for the workforce,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy.
There are 34 federally recognized tribal colleges and universities, designated as land-grants through the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act. For reservation communities, these 1994 land-grant institutions are often the primary institution of scientific inquiry and learning and they offer the distinctive land-grant approach of research, education and extension. They frame education by drawing on the strength of their peoples’ history, indigenous knowledge and traditions.
NIFA’s Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program RFA seeks proposals to enhance research capacity at 1994 land-grant institutions and develop research projects of tribal, state or national importance. All applications must include at least one research collaborator from an approved list of research institutions. This year’s RFA offers new research options and funding levels to better target the individual research capabilities within the 1994 land-grant institutions. Categories include new discovery and capacity building research. Within the capacity building option, there are three choices: student research, applied faculty/community research and pathways to research. The pathways to research choice is new and is designed to fund activities that will enhance the 1994s ability to compete more fully in NIFA’s research opportunities.  
Eligible applicants include tribal colleges or universities designated as 1994 institutions under the Equity Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994.
The deadline for applications is March 21, 2017.
Since 2000, NIFA has invested more than $20 million through the Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program. Among recent grants, is a research partnership between Northwest Indian College and Oregon State University to pinpoint causes of declines in the Manila clam, an important food source for the Lummi people. To date, the project has trained native scholars in the field and classroom and has reached more than 40 native middle and high school students through outreach events. Another project through Salish Kootenai College in Montana is supporting “Sowing Synergy,” a graduate student exchange with the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry to study sustainability through the lens of both scientific and indigenous knowledge.
NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA's integrated research, education and extension programs support the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel whose work results in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety. 

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