The Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Grant Program is a competitive grants program supporting research and extension projects that will increase — to the maximum extent practicable — participation by rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The goal of the WAMS program is to develop and implement robust collaborations to increase the representation, participation, and entrepreneurial skills and abilities of rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in STEM careers, thereby contributing to economic prosperity in rural areas across the nation. Funded projects will meet this goal and lead to the development of a robust and diverse food and agricultural STEM workforce that is highly competent in the application of STEM knowledge and skills, with increased participation of women and minorities from rural areas across a broad spectrum of rural, local, state or national communities.
The WAMS Grant Program provides funding that may only be used for research and extension activities in the training, outreach and mentoring of rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in STEM fields relevant to USDA mission. It is an expectation that investment of public funds through the WAMS Grant Program will lead to:
- Gains in STEM knowledge, skills and capabilities, as well as new participants in USDA mission science through outreach activities, new careers or entrepreneurial enterprise;
- Increased documentation of outputs, significant activities, including dissemination activities, events, services or products that contribute toward achieving the goals and objectives of WAMS;
- Increased change in knowledge, actions or conditions; and
- Increased capacity for carrying out the USDA mission by rural women and underrepresented minorities.
Legislative authority for the WAMS program is contained in Section 7204 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA) (Pub. L. 110-246), which amends Section 1672 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 5925). This authorizes the secretary of agriculture to make competitive grants to support research and extension activities to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with priority given to eligible institutions that carry out continuing programs funded by the secretary. Robust collaborations will enable increased achievement of WAMS program purpose and goals as well as increase America’s competitiveness by expanding participation in new economic enterprises by increasing numbers of women and other members of the U.S. population who are traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.