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Helpful Hints to Understanding NIFA’s Funding Opportunities

Nifa Authors
Josh Stull, Stakeholder Affairs Officer

New to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) funding opportunities? Or maybe you’ve been a NIFA grant recipient before. Either way, NIFA has online resources available for potential applicants to our programs. 

As the extramural research funding agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NIFA has about 70 grant programs that advance agricultural research, education, and Cooperative Extension to solve societal challenges. We can trace our roots back to 1888, a year after the Hatch Act of 1887 authorized strengthening the capacity of Land-grant Universities to research agricultural problems faced by rural citizens. 

We have the following resources on our website that we recommend you bookmark. First, start on our Grants webpage, which will provide you a general overview of NIFA’s grant process from applying, managing and closing a grant. Additionally, it has links to other resources, including some covered below. 

Next on NIFA’s Upcoming Requests For Applications (RFAs) Calendar webpage, there is a list of open, upcoming and closed funding opportunities. Keep in mind that the dates in the upcoming funding opportunity table are target dates and are subject to change until the Request for Applications are published on and the corresponding funding opportunity page. Check back often for updates as target dates draw near or sign up to have Funding Opportunity notices emailed to you as soon as they are posted. With most of NIFA’s competitive grants being annually funded, even if the current fiscal year RFA is not yet available, potential applicants can still review the previous RFA to think about their proposals. Most RFAs do not change year to year. 

For many of our competitive funding opportunities, NIFA provides technical assistance webinars after the RFA has been published. These offer an opportunity for potential applicants to ask questions directly to the respective program’s national program leader (NPL). NPL’s administer the NIFA programs in their portfolio. To learn more of upcoming technical assistance webinars, see our upcoming events calendar, and filter by technical assistance webinars. Additionally, here are two great resources: general grant writing tips document and 20 tips for grant writing success.   

Another invaluable resource is NIFA’s program by NPL page, which houses a list of NIFA programs with their associated National Program Leader contacts. You can also consult the specific NIFA RFAs that you are considering. All RFAs list the current program contacts in the Agency Contacts section. 

After submitting an application, you can track your proposal through NIFA’s Application Status dashboard. This tool offers a quick and easy way to view the status of applications for NIFA’s grant opportunities. The creation of this tool was a high priority for NIFA to ensure transparency and enhance the customer service experience for our stakeholders and partners.  

NIFA reviews all applications accepted into the individual competitive programs through the peer review process. Learn more about this process. More importantly, consider serving as a peer review panelist. Our call for panelists is ongoing with no specific deadline. We select panelists based on individual’s expertise and credentials, as well as our own panel needs. Learn more on NIFA’s panelist information webpage. You can also reach out to the NPL of the program you are interested in serving as a peer reviewer. 

Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the weekly NIFA Update, where we provide timely agency updates, including upcoming events, RFA deadlines, grant award announcements and access previous issues.  

We hope you’ve found this information and links helpful. 

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