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.
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. In 2021 and 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;
- on-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
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:
- Growing Agricultural Literacy and Workforce Development for the Future offers institutional grants to provide K-14 teachers and administrators with increased knowledge of food and agricultural sciences and help them develop improved curricula to train the agricultural workforce for the future.
- Training or Retraining of Agricultural Workers provides institutional training grants to develop a technology- and data-savvy workforce, ready for the field and industrial jobs. These include opportunities for the development of new workforce training programs, and the expansion, improvement, or renewal of existing workforce training programs and curriculum.
- Developing Pathways offers undergraduates in food, agriculture, or allied disciplines, the technical and leadership skills required for employment in the food and agricultural sectors or in graduate programs. NIFA will award institutional grants that offer experiential learning opportunities, beyond traditional classroom experience or course work that include but are not limited to internships, externships, practicums, global leadership, and study abroad, in research and extension. These opportunities must be designed to help students develop the critical thinking, problem solving, digital competency, international experiences, and communication skills needed for future employment and/or higher education.
- Advancing Science supports graduate and post-graduate education in agriculture and related disciplines. NIFA Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship program areas will continue to support predoctoral candidates and postdoctoral trainees respectively. These Fellowship awards can also enable interested predoctoral candidates and postdoctoral trainees to obtain training in industry and international research on issues relevant to U.S. agriculture.
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.
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.
Agricultural Literacy and Workforce Development Evaluation ALE) program area priority is to develop a synthesis and assessment of USDA NIFA's Agricultural Literacy and Workforce Development programs' portfolio and investments from FY 2010 continuing through FY 2020. This priority calls for proposals to provide a programmatic review of the portfolio, in relation to the legislated goals, USDA strategic priorities, NIFA's education pipeline goals and gaps in addressing national education and workforce development needs throughout the education pipeline. The project should provide an assessment of impacts of the programs and a roadmap for future portfolio priorities to further strengthen and develop the pipeline.
Outcomes in Participant Career Development (OPCD) Complementary to the priorities listed of ALE, OPCD applications are solicited to develop, pilot, and maintain a mechanism that will track the impacts of NIFA's investment on individual career development beyond their participation in a NIFA-supported scholarship or fellowship program. The goal of this project is to follow the impacts of NIFA funds in scholar and fellow enrollment in higher education (including graduate and/or postgraduate studies) and career advancement (i.e. employment status, sector, etc.) after receiving NIFA support.
Up to $24,100,000 was available in FY2018.