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Grants to USA Nonprofits, Schools, and IHEs to Improve K-14 Science Education to Prepare Students for the Workforce

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Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program (SPECA)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Agency: Federal

GrantWatch ID #180249

Grant Description

Grants to USA nonprofit organizations, high schools, and institutions of higher education to improve K-14 science education in agricultural disciplines to prepare students for the workforce. Applicants are advised that required registrations may take several weeks to finalize. Funding is intended to support the preparation of teaching methods and learning materials to encourage increasing numbers of students to pursue degrees in the food, agriculture, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences.

The Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants (SPECA) program seeks to: (a) promote and strengthen secondary education and two-year postsecondary education in the food, agriculture, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences in order to help ensure the existence of a workforce in the United States that's qualified to serve the FANH sciences system; and (b) promote complementary and synergistic linkages among secondary, two-year postsecondary, and higher education programs in the FANH sciences in order to advance excellence in education and encourage more young Americans to pursue and complete a baccalaureate or higher degree in the FANH sciences.

Purpose and Priorities: The purpose of the Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants (SPECA) program is to award grants to:

  1. To enhance curricula in agricultural education;
  2. To increase faculty teaching competencies;
  3. To interest young people in pursuing higher education in order to prepare for scientific and professional careers in the food and agricultural sciences;
  4. To promote the incorporation of agriscience and agribusiness subject matter into other instructional programs, particularly classes in science, business, and consumer education;
  5. To facilitate joint initiatives by the grant recipient with other secondary schools, Institutions of higher education that award an associate's degree, and institutions of higher education that award a bachelor's degree to maximize the development and use of resources, such as faculty, facilities, and equipment, to improve agriscience and agribusiness education;
  6. To support other initiatives designed to meet local, State, regional, or national needs related to promoting excellence in agriscience and agribusiness education; and
  7. To support current agriculture in the classroom programs for grades K–12.

Project Category. Each project must support academic instruction with a primary focus in at least one of the following three K-14 Grade Levels:

  1. Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (AITC): Projects specifically developed by or for the state AITC program. (Note: A letter of support from the relevant state AITC organization endorsing the project, clarifying the absence of duplication with existing materials or projects, and explaining its implementation process into the academic system must accompany applications submitted in this Program Category)
  2. Secondary School: Projects with a specific focus on any of the academic grades 9 through 12
  3. Junior or Community College: Projects with a specific focus on associate degree level (2-year postsecondary) activities 

Information about the Educational Need Areas can be found at

Eligible Project and Grant Types can be found at

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  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants for the SPECA must meet all the requirements discussed in this RFA. Applications may only be submitted by: (1) public secondary schools, (2) public or private nonprofit junior and community colleges, (3) institutions of higher education, or (4) nonprofit organizations (Attach IRS 501(c)(3) status under R&R ‘Other Project Information’ Field 12 Other Attachments).

Failure to meet the eligibility criteria by the application deadline may result in exclusion from consideration or, preclude NIFA from making an award. For those new to Federal financial assistance, NIFA’s Grants Overview provides highly recommended information about grants and other resources to help understand the Federal awards process.School boards are not eligible as legal recipients of the award

Pre-Application Information:

Application Deadline:
- FY 2022: 5:00 P.M. Eastern, April 6, 2022
- FY 2023: 5:00 P.M. Eastern, February 1, 2023

Applicants considering applying to the 2023 review cycle should check the SPECA webpage and after November 18th, 2022 for the 2022 Funding Opportunity Number and Application Kit, as well as any other changes.

No Match Required - SPECA has NO matching requirement. NIFA will not factor matching resources into the review process as an evaluation criterion.

New Users to must register early with prior to submitting an application.

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For a list of application documents, see the Package tab (press Preview) on the page above.

Additional Funding Information:

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Anticipated # of Awards: 6-8

Estimated Size of Grant:

Average Award Range: $50,000 - $150,000

Maximum Award Amount:
- Regular Grant: $50,000
- Collaborative Type 1 Grant: $150,000

Term of Contract:

Regular and CG1 project periods may range from 24 to 36 months.

Contact Information:

Program Contact:
Carlos Ortiz, PhD
(202) 445-5594

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