Distance Education Grants for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas

 

To strengthen the capacity of Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas to carry out resident instruction, curriculum, and teaching programs in the food and agricultural sciences through distance education technology.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Active
Program Number
10.322
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Project Grants
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2013: For the FY 2013 award cycle: $610,059 (or $93,750 available for each DEG award) and $849,959 (or $98,750-$106,250 available for each RIIA award) for a total of $1,460,018 for the following Insular Areas: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Virgin Islands of the United States.

In FY 2013, the DEG and RIIA applications that received awards were consortia of the eight Insular Areas each. Both DEG and RIIA consortia awards received the ceiling amounts for each program. In May 2013, applications for both programs RIIA and DEG were evaluated by a 5-member combined program’s peer review panel comprising Federal Government employees.

Applications submitted to this grants program must state how the funded project will address the DEG/RIIA Programs Goals:

1.To increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue and complete a 2- or 4-year postsecondary degree in the food and agricultural sciences, or other STEM fields closely related to the food and agricultural sciences, and for FY 2012, encourage study in areas that contribute to any of the five NIFA Priority Areas listed directly above in Part I, A; and

2.To enhance the quality of postsecondary instruction in order to help meet current and future national food and agricultural sciences workplace needs.

Since 2005 when the Resident Instruction in the Insular Areas was first provided through USDA NIFA, students selecting food and agricultural sciences and related sciences majors increased. For example, at the College of Micronesia-FSM, the student enrollment and graduation increased over twenty times. One concern has remained outstanding and that is the preparedness of the agriculture teachers in the public school system. During 2013, an effort has been initiated to address this concern. In January 2014, a project was started in which one teaching intern was attached with agriculture instructors at each of the 4 campuses of the COM-FSM system where agriculture programs are taught. The purpose was the interns assist the instructors, tutor students and provide recruitment in the high schools while being mentored in teaching techniques and encouraged to continue on the University in a program leading to them returning to FSM to teach agriculture in the school system. At least the first two objectives have been accomplished. Initial data indicate that there is again an increase in enrollment for FY 2015 and of the 4 interns all 4 are continuing their studies. Two of the interns have been accepted at the University of Guam agriculture program, one has been accepted to the University of Hawaii, Hilo and the fourth is continuing to his fourth year accreditation under UOG/COM-FSM partnership degree in education a COM-FSM national campus. Four new interns will be starting their training in January 2014.

The Distance Education Grant program serves the same education priority as RIIA except DEG also acquires the necessary equipment, networking capability, hardware and software, digital network technology, and infrastructure necessary to teach and reach students and teachers about technology in the classroom. The capacity of prospective students to access online education continues to grow which will allow students to obtain an education at lower cost and with great convenience. It is incumbent that each of the consortium members invests time and resources in preparing faculty, developing the infrastructure, and creating the external relationships to ensure success in the delivery of distance education. Faculty hired for traditional classroom delivery require assistance in making the paradigm shift to online education and the infrastructure has to be sufficiently robust to reduce technical problems that re discouraging to students and faculty. The aim is “to build stronger connections among institutions”. Fiscal Year 2014: For the Fiscal Year 2014 award cycle: $767,778 was available for DEG project awards and about $900,000 for RIIA project awards. DEG and RIIA have 6 projects each in the process to be awarded. Fiscal Year 2015: For FY 2015 the proposed budget of $1.8m will consolidate RIIA and DEG program into Grants for Insular Areas Program. Further, in the hope to continue building capacity across two oceans, DEG and RIIA RFAs request regular applications only. This will certainly empower institutional ownership and responsibility since 2005 in managing its own budget in furthering educational needs based on local culture, human and natural resources.

Pertinent data to be provided by Program at a future date.
Authorization
Distance Education Grants for Insular Areas ( Distance Education Grants for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas)., 7 U.S.C 3362; Distance Education for Insular Areas (Resident Instruction Grants for Insular Area Activities)., 7 U.S.C 3363.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Individual land-grant colleges and universities, and other institutions that have secured land-grant status through Federal legislation, and which are located in Insular Areas are automatically eligible for awards under the DEG grants program, either as direct applicants or as parties to a consortium agreement.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Individual land-grant colleges and universities, and other institutions that have secured land-grant status through Federal legislation, and which are located in Insular Areas are automatically eligible for awards under the DEG grants program, either as direct applicants or as parties to a consortium agreement.
Credentials/Documentation
No Credentials or documentation are required. OMB Circular No. A-87 applies to this program.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedure
OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program.
Award Procedure
Applications are subjected to a system of peer and merit review in accordance with section 103 of the Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Reform Act of 1998 (7 U.S.C. 1613) by a panel of qualified scientists and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, the NIFA Authorized Departmental Officer (ADO) shall make grants to those responsible, eligible applicants whose applications are judged most meritorious under the procedures set forth in the RFA.

Reviewers will be selected based upon training and experience in relevant scientific, extension, or education fields, taking into account the following factors:
(a) The level of relevant formal scientific, technical education, or extension experience of the individual, as well as the extent to which an individual is engaged in relevant research, education, or extension activities;
(b) the need to include as reviewers experts from various areas of specialization within relevant scientific, education, or extension fields;
(c) the need to include as reviewers other experts (e.g., producers, range or forest managers/operators, and consumers) who can assess relevance of the applications to targeted audiences and to program needs;
(d) the need to include as reviewers experts from a variety of organizational types (e.g., colleges, universities, industry, state and Federal agencies, private profit and non-profit organizations) and geographic locations;
(e) the need to maintain a balanced composition of reviewers with regard to minority and female representation and an equitable age distribution; and
(f) the need to include reviewers who can judge the effective usefulness to producers and the general public of each application.
Evaluation Criteria will be delineated in the RFA.
Deadlines
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
From 120 to 180 days. Specific details are provided in the Request for Applications (RFA) each fiscal year.
Appeals
Not Applicable.
Renewals
Not Applicable.
How are proposals selected?
Within guidelines established for the program as described in the RFAs.
How may assistance be used?
The purpose of Distance Education Grants for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas is to strengthen the capacity of Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas to carry out resident instruction, curriculum, and teaching programs in the food and agricultural sciences through distance education technology.

Grant funds must be used for allowable costs necessary to conduct approved fundamental and applied research, extension and education objectives to address food and agricultural sciences.

The use of grant funds to plan, acquire, or construct a building or facility is not allowed under this program. With prior approval, and in accordance with the cost principles set forth in OMB Circular No. A-21, some grant funds may be used for minor alterations, renovations, or repairs deemed necessary to retrofit existing teaching or research spaces in order to carry out a funded project. However, requests to use grant funds for such purposes must demonstrate that the alterations, renovations, or repairs are essential to achieving the major purpose of the project. Grant funds may not be used for endowment investing. Section 720 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (Pub.L. No. 112-55) limits indirect costs to 30 percent of the total Federal funds provided under each award. Therefore, when preparing budgets, applicants should limit their requests for recovery of indirect costs to the lesser of their institution’s official negotiated indirect cost rate or the equivalent of 30 percent of total Federal funds awarded. Fully discretionary.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Reporting
Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions. A final “Financial Status Report” (SF-269) or “Federal Financial Report” (SF-425) is due within 90 days of the expiration date of the grant and should be submitted to the Awards Management Division, Office of Grants and Financial Management at the address listed below, in accordance with instructions contained in 2 CFR 3430.55 (also refer to Section 3015.82 of the Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations). Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions. A final “Federal Financial Report” (SF-425) is due within 90 days of the expiration date of the grant and should be submitted to the address listed below, in accordance with instructions contained in 2 CFR 3430.55 (also refer to Section 3015.82 of the Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations).

Awards Management Division (AMD)
Office of Grants and Financial Management (OGFM)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
STOP 2271
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-2271
Telephone: (202) 401-4986. Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions.
Auditing
In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133. This program is also subject to audit by the cognizant Federal audit agency and the USDA Office of Inspector General.
Records
In accordance with the Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-profit Organizations (2 CFR 215, Subpart C, Section 215.53, (OMB Circular A-110)) grantees shall maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for authorized purposes. Grant-related records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and must be retained at least 3 years. Records must be retained beyond the 3-year period if litigation is pending or audit findings have not been resolved.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
This program has no statutory formula.
This program has no matching requirements.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
The project period for most of the competitive grants and/or cooperative agreements under this program is for three (3) years. However, the statutory time limit for all projects may not exceed five (5) years. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: by letter of credit.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
None.
Headquarters Office
USDA, NIFA, National Program Leader, Institute of Youth, Family, and Community, Division of Community and Education, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 2250, Washington , District of Columbia 20250-2250 Phone: (202) 720-2324 Fax: (202) 720-2030
Website Address
http://www.nifa.usda.gov
Financial Information
Account Identification
12-1500-0-1-352.
Obligations
(Project Grants) FY 13 $1,464,535; FY 14 est $1,727,550; and FY 15 est $1,727,550 - The difference between the appropriation and obligation numbers reflects legislative authorized set-asides deducted as appropriate, and in some cases the availability of obligational authority from prior years.

FY 2013 estimated amounts include dollar reductions calculated pursuant to the budget sequestration order issued March 1, 2013.

NOTES:
(1) Effective FY '13, Appropriations for the Resident Instruction Grants (RIIA – CFDA 10.308) and Distance Education Grants (DEG – CFDA 10.322) were consolidated under Research & Education Activities, Grants for Insular Areas Program. However, different legislative authorities are applicable and separate Requests for Applications (RFAs) were issued under the respective CFDA numbers.

(2) Also see CFDA 10.308 for further information re: Insular Area Grants.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
If minimum or maximum amounts of funding per competitive project grant or cooperative agreement are established, these will be announced in the annual program announcement or Request for Application (RFA).
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
7 CFR Part 3430, Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-formula Federal Assistance Programs – General Award Administrative Provisions and Program-Specific Administrative Provisions; 7 CFR Part 3015, USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations; 7 CFR Part 3017, Government wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) ; 7 CFR Part 3018, New Restrictions on Lobbying; 7 CFR Part 3019, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-profit Organizations; 7 CFR Part 3021— USDA implementation of Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-free Workplace (Financial Assistance) and 7 CFR 3052 - Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2013: The overall purpose of this project is to provide excellent higher education in Agriculture and Food Science, within the Insular Areas, to meet the evolving needs of a global society through these program goals: (1) to increase the number of graduates with a degree in the food and agricultural sciences and (2) helps students achieve their career goals and help meet workplace needs by increasing the quality of undergraduate instruction and (3) acquire the equipment, networking capability, hardware and software, digital network technology, and infrastructure necessary to teach students and teachers about technology in the classroom. We develop activities that are mutually beneficial to members of the group. Distance education for the Consortium institutions is a key strategy for fulfilling our mission. The capacity of prospective students to access online education continues to grow which will allow students to obtain an education at lower cost and with greater convenience. It is incumbent that each of the consortium members invests time and resources in preparing faculty, developing the infrastructure, and creating the external relationships to ensure success in the delivery of distance education. Faculty hired for traditional classroom delivery require assistance in making the paradigm shift to online education and the infrastructure has to be sufficiently robust to reduce technical problems that are discouraging to students and faculty. In conclusion, “we aim to build stronger connections among institutions.”. Fiscal Year 2014: This project will be the first step in bringing an online degree program in agriculture to the University of the Virgin Islands and the local community by establishing the feasibility of the proof of concept. An online degree program in agriculture would provide the bridge needed between the experiential components of the University’s Agriculture Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service and the academic component of the University. The proof of concept has the potential to extend to a target audience far beyond just students of the University of the Virgin Island and the Caribbean but to students at other insular area institutions as well. The end product of this project will be a document that provides the necessary data to establish that a demand exists and it is feasible for the University to offer an online degree program in agriculture. The intended outcome is to have a document that enables data driven decisions with regard to the pursuit of developing and implementing an online degree program. It is also anticipated this project will establish base line data for the online degree program in agriculture. Anecdotal evidence suggests student demand exists and there is a need within the community for such a program. Fiscal Year 2015: The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 is $1.8 million for the consolidated RIIA and DEG Grants for Insular Areas Program. .Pertinent data to be provided by Program at a future date.

 


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