How NIFA advocates for greater access to higher education

Today is National Higher Education Day, celebrated 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 pressing local, national, and global problems. In fiscal year 2021, NIFA support for research, outreach, and education totaled nearly $2 billion.

the 1890 Scholarship Program offers scholarships to support the recruitment, participation, retention, mentorship, and training of undergraduate students at 1890 land-grant institutions, resulting in bachelor’s degrees in food science and agriculture and related fields.

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

the 1890 Centers of Excellence Program supports the 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 housed in the 1890 Land Grant Institutions with the goal of increasing profitability and rural prosperity in underserved areas. Peasant communities; address critical needs to enhance training and international development; and increase diversity in the science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math pipeline.

the Educational Competitive Grant Program for Institutions Serving Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians promotes and strengthens the capacity of Alaska Native-serving institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions to conduct related education, applied research, and community development programs. Priority is given to those projects that improve educational equity for underrepresented students; strengthen institutional educational capacities; prepare students for careers related to food, agriculture, natural resources, and the human sciences; and maximize the development and use of resources to improve agrifood science teaching programs.

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the Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program provides funding for colleges and universities to support students from diverse backgrounds through scholarships, mentorships, and experiential learning opportunities to help them complete their bachelor’s degrees in the fields of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences; or to obtain a doctorate in veterinary medicine.

the Education Scholarship Program for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) promotes and strengthens the ability of HSIs to conduct higher education programs to attract, retain, and graduate outstanding students capable of enhancing the nation’s food, agriculture, natural resource, and human sciences professional and scientific workforce.

the Food Science and Agriculture National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Scholarship Scholarship Program is designated for graduate programs (masters and doctorates) and postgraduate training of the next generation of policymakers, researchers, and educators in the food and agricultural sciences.

the Fresh Start Program for Tribal Students awards competitive grants to Land-grant colleges and universities to support tribal students. Funds may be used in support of tribal students for articulation agreements with 1994; dual credit programs; recruitment; tuition and related fees; experiential learning; and student services that include 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 Higher Education Institutions in Insular Areas are competitive scholarship programs focused on improving formal and post-secondary education in agricultural sciences in eight island 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 United States Virgin Islands.

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the Higher Education Challenge Scholarship Program funds college and university professors who teach agriscience and work to inspire their students and take learning to a new level.

the Secondary Education, Two-Year Post-Secondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grant Program promotes and strengthens secondary education and two-year postsecondary education in the food, agricultural, natural resource, and human sciences (FANH) to help ensure the existence of a qualified workforce in the United States to serve the food science system the FANH. It also promotes complementary and synergistic links between FANH high school, two-year post-secondary, and higher science education programs to promote excellence in education and encourage more young Americans to earn and complete a FANH bachelor’s or higher science degree. .

the Tribal Colleges Fellowship Program aid 1994 Land-grant institutions become centers of scientific research and learning for remote and rural reserve communities. This grant places an emphasis on educating students in science.

the Tribal Equity Grant Program funds formal learning in 1994 Land-grant Institutions. Professors use the funds to upgrade their courses, improve their teaching capacity, provide student stipends, or invest in new technology to reach more students in remote reservation communities. 1994 Land Grant Institutions may also use grants to support student recruitment and retention.

the Grant Program for Women and Minorities in the Fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is a competitive grant program that supports research and extension projects that increase the participation of rural women and underrepresented minorities in rural areas in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

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