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Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grants Program

The college and university faculty who teach agri-science use NIFA Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grants Program funds to inspire their students and take learning to a new level. An entomology professor sets up a mosquito control program in Africa where her students help a village fight malaria. A plant science professor creates computer-based module resulting in better-trained graduates. A college sets up a conference on best-practices in agri-science education. It's all funded through NIFA's HEC grants program and the result is a better-trained agri-science workforce.

Projects supported by the Higher Education Challenge Grants Program will: (1) address a state, regional, national, or international educational need; (2) involve a creative or non-traditional approach toward addressing that need that can serve as a model to others; (3) encourage and facilitate better working relationships in the university science and education community, as well as between universities and the private sector, to enhance program quality and supplement available resources; and (4) result in benefits that will likely transcend the project duration and USDA support.

Funding Opportunity 

Who Is Eligible to Apply 

  • 1862 Land-Grant Institutions
  • 1890 Land-Grant Institutions
  • 1994 Land-Grant Institutions
  • Hispanic-Serving Institutions
  • State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed
  • Non-Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture (NLGCA)
  • Other or Additional Information (See below)

More Information on Eligibility

a) U.S. public or private, nonprofit colleges/universities offering baccalaureate or 1st professional degree in at least one discipline/area of food and agricultural sciences; b) land-grant colleges/universities (including those in Insular Areas); c) colleges/universities having significant minority enrollments and demonstrable capacity to teach food and agricultural sciences; and d) colleges/universities having demonstrable capacity to teach food and agricultural sciences.

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