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How NIFA Champions Greater Access to Higher Education

Nifa Authors
Lori Tyler Gula, Senior Public Affairs Specialist

Today is National Higher Education Day, which occurs annually on June 6 to champion accessibility to higher education. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports higher education by partnering with the Land-grant University System to find innovative solutions to the most pressing local, national and global problems. In fiscal year 2021, NIFA’s support for research, Extension and education totaled nearly $2 billion.

The 1890 Scholarships Program provides scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring and training undergraduate students at 1890 Land-grant Institutions, resulting in baccalaureate degrees in food and agricultural sciences and related fields.

The 1890 Facilities Grant Program supports acquisition and improvement of agricultural and food sciences facilities and equipment, including libraries, so that 1890 Land-grant Institutions, including Tuskegee University, West Virginia State University and Central State University, may participate fully in the development of human capital in the food, agricultural and human sciences.

The 1890 Centers of Excellence Program provides support for Centers of Excellence that were originally established in 2015 in conjunction with the 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act of 1890. The 1890 Centers of Excellence are hosted by 1890 Land-grant Institutions with the goals of increasing profitability and rural prosperity in underserved farming communities; addressing critical needs for enhanced international training and development; and increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics pipeline.

The Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grants Program promotes and strengthens the ability of Alaska Native-Serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions to carry out education, applied research and related community development programs. Priority is given to those projects that enhance educational equity for underrepresented students; strengthen institutional education capacities; prepare students for careers related to the food, agricultural, natural resources and human sciences; and maximize the development and use of resources to improve food and agricultural sciences teaching programs.

The Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program provides funding for colleges and universities to support students from diverse backgrounds through scholarships, mentorship and experiential learning opportunities to assist them in completing their bachelor’s degree in the fields of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences; or to earn a doctoral degree in  veterinary medicine.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants (HSI) Program promotes and strengthens the ability of HSIs to carry out higher education programs to attract, retain and graduate outstanding students capable of enhancing the nation's food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences professional and scientific work force.

The Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program is designated for graduate degree (masters and doctoral) programs and postgraduate training of the next generation of policy makers, researchers and educators in the food and agricultural sciences.

The New Beginning for Tribal Students Program makes competitive grants to Land-grant colleges and universities to provide support for Tribal students. Funds can be used in support of Tribal students for articulation agreements with 1994s; dual credit programs; recruiting; tuition and related fees; experiential learning; and student services  including tutoring, counseling, academic advising, and other student services that would increase the retention and graduation rate of Tribal students.

The Resident Instruction Grants and Distance Education Grants for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas are competitive grants programs focused on improving formal, postsecondary agricultural sciences education in eight insular areas: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Virgin Islands of the United States.

The Higher Education Challenge Grants Program funds college and university faculty who teach agri-science and work to inspire their students and take learning to a new level.

The Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program promotes and strengthens secondary education and two-year postsecondary education in the food, agriculture, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences to help ensure the existence in the United States of a qualified workforce to serve the FANH sciences system. It also promotes complementary and synergistic linkages among secondary, two-year postsecondary, and higher education programs in the FANH sciences to advance excellence in education and encourage more young Americans to pursue and complete a baccalaureate or higher degree in the FANH sciences.

The Tribal College Research Grant Program helps 1994 Land-grant Institutions become centers of scientific inquiry and learning for remote and rural reservation communities. This grant places an emphasis on training students in science.

The Tribal Equity Grants Program funds formal learning at 1994 Land-grant Institutions. Faculty use the funding to improve their courses, enhance their teaching ability, provide student stipends or invest in new technology to reach more students on remote reservation communities. The 1994 Land-grant Institutions also may use grants to support student recruitment and retention.

The Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Grant Program is a competitive grants program supporting research and Extension projects that increase participation by rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Photo: Rear view of student raising a hand in a classroom. Courtesy of Adobe Stock. 


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