The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is America's flagship competitive grants program that provides funding for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. Projects funded under this program should address key problems of local, regional, national, and global importance in sustaining conventional, organic, urban food, and agricultural and natural systems
In 2022, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) requests applications for the AFRI's Education and Workforce Development program areas to support:
- professional development opportunities for K-14 educational professionals;
- non-formal education that cultivates food and agricultural interest in youth;
- workforce training at community, junior, and technical colleges;
- training of undergraduate students in research and extension,
- fellowships for predoctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars; and
- agricultural literacy and workforce development evaluation
Applications are solicited in the following Program Areas:
The Professional Development for Agricultural Literacy (PDAL) program area seeks to increase the number of K-14 educational professionals trained in the Food and Agricultural Sciences. Participants are expected to develop skills necessary for integrating food and agricultural science concepts in their classes; explore the opportunities available in food and agricultural science career paths; and/or forge mentorships with professional and business leaders, and faculty at four-year institutions.
The Agricultural Workforce Training (AWT) Grants program area seeks to develop a technology- and data-savvy workforce, ready for the field and industrial jobs within the food and agricultural sciences. Through the development of new workforce training programs, or the expansion, improvement, or renewal of existing workforce training programs at community, junior, and technical colleges/institutes, this program will expand job-based, experiential learning opportunities for students to enable a work-ready labor force for 21st century agricultural jobs.
Food and Agricultural Non-formal Education (FANE) Grant Program: Major advances in agricultural productivity and rural prosperity in the past have resulted from transformative technologies such as breeding tools and strategies, mechanization, and prudent use of agrochemicals. There are several emerging technologies that hold a similar promise. This program area priority will support content development and activities for non-formal education to foster development of technology-savvy youth. Projects must develop activities that cultivate interest and competencies in STEM and in food and agricultural sciences supported by the six Farm Bill Priority areas of AFRI. Data science, including artificial intelligence, automation and robotics as well as gene editing and biotechnology will be supported in this program area priority.
Civic Engagement Experience for Youth (CEEY) In order to support whole-child development and as compliment of the enhanced understanding of the benefits of agriculture activities, applications are solicited for a project that promotes non-formal educational civic engagement experiences for 4-H youth in grades 10-12th (15-19 years old) such that participants create positive social change in their communities. CEEY will award a single grant to an institution to coordinate and execute the delivery of an annual National 4-H Conference in consultation with USDA NIFA program staff.
The Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates (REEU) program area promotes research and extension learning experiences for undergraduates such that upon graduation they may enter the agricultural workforce with exceptional skills. This initiative allows colleges and universities to provide fellowship opportunities for undergraduate students, including those from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged groups, minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and universities.
Applications are also being solicited to develop a network of REEU projects and personnel that will foster national-level coordination of opportunities for students and to enhance collaboration among projects. The REEU program will award a single grant to an institution to maintain the education-coordinated network.
The Predoctoral & Postdoctoral Fellowships program areas help to develop new scientists and professionals to enter research, education, and/or extension fields within the food and agricultural sciences within the private sector, government, or academia. The aim of these fellowships is to cultivate future leaders who can solve emerging agricultural challenges of the 21st century. NIFA is particularly interested in supporting fellows that address (1) sustainable agricultural intensification; (2) agricultural climate adaptation; (3) food and nutrition translation; (4) value-added innovation; and (5) agricultural science policy leadership.
NOTE: While the Predoctoral Fellowships area priority is a component of the AFRI Food and Agriculture Science Enhancement (FASE) funding opportunity, the applicant fellow need not be from or planning to carry out the fellowship project at a FASE eligible institution to be eligible for this fellowship program
7a. National Extension Clearinghouse for Industry and the Workforce (NECIW) Program Area Priority: Agricultural production and processing rely on an efficient and well-trained workforce. The readiness of this workforce may benefit from, and in many cases require, both informal training experiences, and formal worker certifications. The Special Workforce Development Topics program area priority is seeking applications for one National Extension Clearinghouse for Industry and the Workforce (NECIW) Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) Grant that will develop and deliver a national framework and clearinghouse for non-formal education workforce training opportunities for jobs within and supportive of the food and agricultural sector. The goal of this project is to connect similar regional efforts, identify gaps in the workforce ecosystem, and provide adaptive, science-based proven solutions to address local and regional workforce issues, including accessible training methodologies (i.e., experiential, skills-based learning opportunities and others), materials, instructors, and other solutions that result in participant's upskilling, credentialing, and readiness to successfully join or rejoin the workforce. NIFA anticipates making a one-time investment of up to one NECIW award for FY 2022.
7b. Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America (YEA) Program Area Priority: The YEA program seeks projects supporting one or more of the six AFRI Farm Bill priorities, as well as one or more of the USDA priorities of: (1) addressing climate change via climate smart agriculture and forestry; (2) advancing racial justice, equity, and opportunity; (3) creating more and better market opportunities; (4) tackling food and nutrition insecurity or (5) promoting workforce development.
Up to $45,000,000 was available in FY2021.
Up to $24,100,000 was available in FY2018.
The AFRI EWD program addresses projected shortfalls of qualified graduates in the agricultural, food, and renewable natural resources sectors of the U.S. economy (Employment Opportunities for College Graduates). Thus, the AFRI EWD has four overarching goals:
NIFA will recognize and provide priority in the receipt of funding to applications from centers of excellence” (COE) that carry out research, extension, and education activities that relate to the food and agricultural sciences. A COE is composed of one or more of the following entities that provide financial or in-kind support to the COE.