Higher Education - Institution Challenge Grants Program

 

To increase institutional capacities to respond to State, regional, national, or international educational needs by strengthening college and university teaching programs in the food and agricultural sciences.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Active
Program Number
10.217
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 2014: For FY 2014:

In FY 2014 $4,503,700 was available to support awards after administrative deductions.

A total of 97 projects were received in this year’s competition. A 24-member peer review panel, plus 9 reviewers evaluated these applications. The peer panel included faculty and administrators from land grant and non-land grant colleges and universities, USDA, and practitioners from the food and agricultural sciences community.

Funds are available to support 14 awards in the following Project Types:
(1 Conference/Planning at $16,258.00;
7 Regular: $1,025,682;
2 Joint: $596,172; and
4 Large-Scale Comprehensive Initiatives: $2,865,538.)

The funding ratio for this program in FY 2014 is 14%.

Funded projects address one or more of the following educational strategies: (a) Curriculum Development, Instructional Delivery Systems and Expanding Student Career Opportunities; (b) Increasing Faculty Teaching Competencies; and (c) Facilitating Interaction with Other Academic Institutions. Also, beginning in 2012, all projects had to address one of five Priority Areas: Global Food Security and Hunger, Climate Change, Sustainable Energy, Childhood Obesity, and Food Safety. Fiscal Year 2015: For FY 2015:
Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date.

NOTE:
The President's FY 2015 Budget proposal consolidates STEM-related programs in budgets for the Department of Education or the National Science Foundation. Fiscal Year 2016: For FY 2016:
Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date.
Authorization
National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, Section 1405, 7 U.S.C 3121,1417(b)(1); National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, 7 U.S.C 3152(b)(1).
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
All U.S. public and private nonprofit colleges and universities offering a baccalaureate or first professional degree in at least one discipline or area of the food and agricultural sciences.
Beneficiary Eligibility
All U.S. colleges and universities having a demonstrable capacity to teach the food and agricultural sciences.
Credentials/Documentation
Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number and System for Award Management (SAM) - each applicant (unless excepted under 2 CFR § 25.110(b) or (c), or has an exception approved by the Federal awarding agency under 2 CFR § 25.110(d)) is required to: (i) Be registered in SAM before submitting its application; (ii) provide a valid DUNS number in its application; and (iii) continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application or plan under consideration by a Federal awarding agency. It also must state that the Federal awarding agency may not make a Federal award to an applicant until the applicant has complied with all applicable DUNS and SAM requirements and, if an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements by the time the Federal awarding agency is ready to make a Federal award, the Federal awarding agency may determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive a Federal award and use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award to another applicant.

Applicants must furnish the information required in the request for applications (RFAs). Successful applicants recommended for funding must furnish the information and assurances requested during the award documentation process. These include, but are not limited to the following:

Organizational Management Information - Specific management information relating to an applicant shall be submitted on a one time basis, with updates on an as needed basis, as part of the responsibility determination prior to the award of a grant identified under this RFA, if such information has not been provided previously under this or another NIFA program. NIFA will provide copies of forms recommended for use in fulfilling these requirements as part of the preaward process. Although an applicant may be eligible based on its status as one of these entities, there are factors which may exclude an applicant from receiving Federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits under this program (e.g., debarment or suspension of an individual involved or a determination that an applicant is not responsible based on submitted organizational management information). This information collection is approved under OMB Circular Control No. 0524-0026, “Assurance of Compliance with the Department of Agriculture Regulations Assuring Civil Rights, Compliance and Organization Information.”. 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles applies to this program.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
All RFAs are published on the Agency’s website and Grants.gov. Applicants must complete the Grants.gov registration process. Please see the following Grants.gov link for more information: http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp. An environmental impact statement is required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Formal proposals should be submitted to the Proposal Services Unit, NIFA, as outlined in the solicitation of applications. Application procedures are contained in the program regulations and required forms are contained in the Grant Application Kit. This program is subject to the regulatory provisions of USDA, 7 CFR Part 3015, et seq., and all successor regulations.
Award Procedure
Applications should be submitted as outlined in the RFA. Applications must follow the instructions provided per Grants.Gov and in the Agency guide to submitting applications via Grants.gov.

2 CFR Part 200 – Subpart C and Appendix I apply to this program.

2 CFR Part 400 applies to this program.
Deadlines
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Section :094 - Deadlines:

Dates for specific deadlines are announced in the RFA each fiscal year.
Information is also available via our website and may be obtained via the Grants.gov website. Respective links are provided below:

http://nifa.usda.gov/grants
http://www.grants.gov

Section :095 - Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:
From 30 to 180 days.
Appeals
2 CFR Part 200 – Subparts D & E apply to this program.
Renewals
Specific details are provided in the Request for Applications (RFA) each fiscal year.
How are proposals selected?
Within guidelines established for the program as described in the Request for Application (RFA).
How may assistance be used?
Funds may be used only in targeted areas, e.g., curricula design and materials development, faculty preparation and enhancement for teaching, instruction delivery systems, scientific instrumentation for teaching, student experiential learning, and student recruitment and retention, as cited in the annual program announcement in the Federal Register. student tuition remission, room and board, fees or other financial assistance (scholarships, fellowships, etc.). Also, funds may not be used for the renovation or refurbishment of research, education, or extension space; the purchase or installation of fixed equipment in such space; or to plan, repair, rehabilitate, acquire, or construct buildings or facilities (i.e., greenhouses, laboratories, or other structures). Promotional items (e.g., T-shirts and other give-a-ways) and food functions (e.g., cookouts or other social meal gatherings) are considered ‘entertainment’ expenses, and are also not allowed under this grants program. Federal Cost Principles governing this grant program state that items not eligible for Federal funding may also not be used as an applicant’s contribution toward meeting matching requirements.

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.
.
**Special Note on Indirect Costs as in-kind matching contributions:
Indirect costs may be claimed under the Federal portion of the award budget or, alternatively, indirect costs may be claimed as a matching contribution (if no indirect costs are requested under the Federal portion of the award budget). However, unless explicitly authorized in the RFA, indirect costs may not be claimed on both the Federal portion of the award budget and as a matching contribution, unless the total claimed on both the Federal portion of the award budget and as a matching contribution does not exceed the maximum allowed indirect costs or the institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate, whichever is less. An awardee may split the allocation between the Federal and non-Federal portions of the budget only if the total amount of indirect costs charged to the project does not exceed the maximum allowed indirect costs or the institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate, whichever is less. For example, if an awardees' indirect costs are capped at 30 percent pursuant to FY 2012 appropriated funds, Section 720 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division A of Pub. L. 112-55), the awardee may request 15 percent of the indirect costs on both the Federal portion of the award and as a matching contribution. Or, the awardee may request any similar percentage that, when combined, does not exceed the maximum indirect cost rate of 30 percent. 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. NIFA uses the SF-425, Federal Financial Report to monitor cash. (Pertinent details regarding Progress Reports are provided above.). 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 Branch, Office of Extramural Programs 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).

Awards Management Division
Office of Grants and Financial Management
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. (Pertinent details regarding Performance Monitoring Reports are provided above.).
Auditing
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503. In accordance with 2 CFR Part 400 - Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, Subpart F—Audit Requirements nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more during the non-Federal entity’s fiscal year in Federal awards must have a single or program-specific audit conducted for that year in accordance with the provisions of this part. A non-Federal entity that expends less than $750,000 during the non-Federal entity’s fiscal year in Federal awards is exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in § 200.503. Relation to other audit requirements, but records must be available for review or audit by appropriate officials of the Federal agency, pass-through entity, and Government Accountability Office (GAO).

This program is also subject to audit by the cognizant Federal audit agency and the USDA Office of Inspector General.
Records
In accordance with 2 CFR Part 400 - Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, § 200.333 Retention requirements for records. 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 three (3) years. Records must be retained beyond the three (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.
Matching Requirements: Percent: 25.%. A grant recipient is required to match 25% of the USDA funds awarded. Matching funds must come from non-Federal sources, and are not required to come in any particular amount from any one source.

However, all matching funds pledged in the application must be accompanied by documentation.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Grants are awarded for a one (1) to three (3) year period and may receive no-cost extensions as appropriate up to a maximum of five (5) years.

2 CFR Part 200, Subpart D applies to this program. 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 Email: Policy@nifa.usda.gov Phone: (202) 720-2324 Fax: (202) 720-2030.
Website Address
http://nifa.usda.gov/program/higher-education-challenge-grants-program
Financial Information
Account Identification
12-1500-0-1-352.
Obligations
(Project Grants) FY 14 $4,562,550; FY 15 est $4,561,200; and FY 16 est $0 - 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.

NOTES:

(1) In terms of availability of appropriations (time), there are no time limits as to when "no-year" funds may be obligated and expended and the funds remain available for their original purposes until expended.

(2) Effective in FY 2012, funding for three (3) Higher Education Programs: (Graduate Fellowships – CFDA 10.210; Challenge – CFDA 10.217; and Multicultural Scholars – CFDA 10.220), were consolidated under a single funding line within the Research & Education Activities Account. However, different legislative authorities are applicable and separate Requests for Applications (RFAs) were issued under the respective CFDA numbers.

(3) The President's FY 2016 Budget proposal consolidates STEM-related programs in budgets for the Department of Education or the National Science Foundation.
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
The following federal statutes and regulations represent general administrative requirements which apply to NIFA federal assistance programs. These include, but are not limited to the ones listed below.

2 CFR Part 25 - Universal Identifier and Central Contractor Registration

2 CFR Part 170 - Reporting Subaward and Executive Compensation Information

2 CFR Part 175 - Award Term for Trafficking in Persons

2 CFR Part 180 and Part 417 - OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Government-Wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) and USDA Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension

2 CFR Part 182 - Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Financial Assistance)

2 CFR Part 200 - Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

2 CFR Part 400 – USDA implementation of 2 CFR Part 200 - Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

2 CFR Part 415 - General Program Administrative Regulations

2 CFR Part 416 – USDA General Program Administrative Regulations for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments

2 CFR Part 417 - Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension

2 CFR Part 418 - New Restrictions on Lobbying

2 CFR Part 421 - Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Financial Assistance)

2 CFR Part 422—Research Institutions Conducting USDA-Funded Extramural Research; Research Misconduct.

7 CFR Part 1, subpart A—USDA implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and 7 CFR Part 3404, Public Information.

7 CFR Part 1c—USDA Implementation of the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects

7 CFR Part 3—USDA implementation of OMB Circular No. A-129 regarding debt collection

7 CFR Part 15, subpart A—USDA implementation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended

7 CFR Part 331 and 9 CFR Part 121—USDA implementation of the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002

7 CFR Part 3407—USDA procedures to implement the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended

7 CFR Part 3418—Stakeholder Input Requirements for Recipients of Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension Formula Funds

7 CFR Part 3419—Matching Funds Requirement for Agricultural Research and Extension Formula Funds at 1890 Land–Grant Institutions, Including Tuskegee University, and at 1862 Land–Grant Institutions in Insular Areas

7 CFR Part 3430—Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-formula Financial Assistance Programs--General Award Administrative Provisions

7 CFR Part 3434—Hispanic–Serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities Certification Process

29 U.S.C. 794 (section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973) and 7 CFR Part 15b (USDA implementation of statute) —prohibiting discrimination based upon physical or mental handicap in federally-assisted programs

35 U.S.C. 200 et seq. —Bayh Dole Act, controlling allocation of rights to inventions made by employees of small business firms and domestic nonprofit organizations, including universities, in federally-assisted programs (implementing regulations are contained in 37 CFR Part 401)

44 U.S.C. 3551-3558 (Pub. L. 113–283) - Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA). Applies to awardees if it will collect, store, process, transmit, or use information on behalf of NIFA.

Executive Order 13513, Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging while Driving (Oct. 1, 2009).

NIFA Federal Assistance Policy Guide—a compendium of basic NIFA policies and procedures that apply to all NIFA awards, unless there are statutory, regulatory, or award-specific requirements to the contrary.

In addition, the following represent Program-Specific requirements:

7 CFR Part 3400 – Special Research Grants Program (for CFDA 10.200)

7 CFR Part 3401—Rangeland Research Grants Program (CFDA 10.200)

7 CFR Part 3402—Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program (CFDA 10.210).

7 CFR Part 3403—Small Business Innovation Research Grants Program (CFDA 10.212)

7 CFR Part 3405—Higher Education Challenge Grants Program (CFDA 10.217)

7 CFR Part 3406—1890 Institution Capacity Building Grants Program (CFDA 10.216)

7 CFR Part 3415 – Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (CFDA 10.219)

7 CFR Part 3431—Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (CFDA 10.313)


Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2014: For FY 2014:
Enhance food safety education by developing multi-disciplinary (predictive microbiology, engineering, risk analysis), multi-level, quantitative, simulation-based learning modules that are easily incorporated into existing courses. Using a research-based conceptual framework for simulation it will be possible to trace decision-making to basic principles. Building on available software that implements quantitative models, the modules will cover three aspects of food safety education—fundamental microbiology, the impact of processing on safety, and safety risk assessment.

This project is designed to:
1) Develop curriculum for a new Sustainable Food and Agriculture Concentration in Environmental and Sustainability Studies;

2) develop the curriculum for a new Food and Sustainability Minor in Nutrition and Food Studies.;

3) develop food-focused internship and experiential learning opportunities in both the Concentration and the Minor emphasizing skills needed for employment;

4) develop relationships with local producers, employers, non-governmental and governmental agencies on food-related issues; and 5) communicate the work of the Concentration and Minor to other academic institutions and practitioners.

Through a conference planning proposal educators and researchers will seek to build a better capstone by: Assessing the quality of student experiences with capstone courses; inventory and characterize the approaches, scope, and variations of currently offered senior capstones; describe workforce relevance and assess program effectiveness; describe how capstones potentially address issues raised in recent reports of trends in undergraduate education; and identify successful approaches to expanding diversity.

Develop a recruitment and retention program, which will provide high school students, junior/community college students and undergraduate students in food science with an opportunity to gain research experience, critical thinking, team work and leadership skills; and also to provide science teachers the tools required to introduce the concepts of food
science into their science curriculum. Minorities, specifically African American students, will be recruited for this program through partnerships with regional schools and colleges. Students accepted into the program will complete an 8‐week research program with their faculty mentors; participate in field trips to regional food companies and research facilities; and participate in a lecture‐series with industry and government representatives. Fiscal Year 2015: For FY 2015:
Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date.

NOTE:
The President's FY 2015 Budget proposal consolidates STEM-related programs in budgets for the Department of Education or the National Science Foundation. Fiscal Year 2016: For FY 2016:
Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date.