Secondary and Two-Year Postsecondary Agriculture Education Challenge Grants

 

The purpose of the Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge (SPECA) Grants Program is to: enhance curricula in agricultural education; increase faculty teaching competencies; interest young people in pursuing higher education in order to prepare for scientific and professional careers in the food and agricultural sciences; promote the incorporation of agriscience and agribusiness subject matter into other instructional programs, particularly classes in science, business, and consumer education; facilitate joint initiatives by the grant recipient with other secondary schools, institutions of higher education that award an associate's degree, institutions of higher education that award a bachelor's degree, and nonprofit organizations supporting agriscience and agribusiness education, to maximize the development and use of resources, such as faculty, facilities, and equipment, to improve agriscience and agribusiness education; support other initiatives designed to meet local, State, regional, or national needs related to promoting excellence in agriscience and agribusiness education; and support current Agriculture in the Classroom programs for grades K-12.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Active
Program Number
10.226
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:

For the FY 2014 award cycle, a total of $852,938 was available for project grant awards after subtracting administrative costs.

A total of 55 academic institutions submitted applications. In May 2014, a sixteen-member peer review panel evaluated these applications. The peer panel included faculty members from secondary schools, two-year postsecondary, land grant and non-land grant colleges and universities, and practitioners from the food and agricultural sciences community.

Funds were available to support a total of 9 awards in the following Project Types : 6 Regular projects; 1 Joint project; and 2 Large-scale Comprehensive Initiatives. The funding ratio for this program in FY14 was 11 percent. Fiscal Year 2015: For FY 2015:

Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date. Fiscal Year 2016: For FY 2016:
Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date.
Authorization
Section 1405 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, as amended, (7 U.S.C. 3121) designates the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the lead Federal agency for agriculture research, extension and teaching in the food and agricultural sciences. Section 7109 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246) amends the authority for this program contained in section 1417(j) of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, as amended (7 U.S.C. 3152(j)). In accordance with the statutory authority, subject to the availability of funds, the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA), who has delegated the authority to the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will award grants to: (a) promote and strengthen secondary and 2-year postsecondary agriscience and agribusiness education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom, in order to help ensure the existence in the United States of a qualified workforce to serve the food and agricultural sciences system; and (b) promote complementary and synergistic linkages among secondary, 2-year postsecondary, and higher education programs in the food and agricultural sciences in order to attain excellence in education and to encourage more young Americans to pursue and complete a baccalaureate or higher degree in the food and agricultural sciences., 7 U.S.C 3121; Section 1405 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, as amended, (7 U.S.C. 3121) designates the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the lead Federal agency for agriculture research, extension and teaching in the food and agricultural sciences. Section 7109 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246) amends the authority for this program contained in section 1417(j) of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, as amended (7 U.S.C. 3152(j))., 7 U.S.C 3152 (j).
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Public secondary schools or public or private nonprofit junior and community colleges.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Public secondary schools or public or private nonprofit junior and community colleges.
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. 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. 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.
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. 7613) 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.

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, promotion of teaching competencies, promotion of agriscience and agribusiness career information, instruction delivery systems, student experiential learning, and educational activities that increase the diversity of students pursuing degrees in agriscience and agribusiness. NIFA has determined that grant funds awarded under this authority 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 the planning, repair, rehabilitation, acquisition, or construction of buildings or facilities. Tuition remission not allowed. 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 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. (Pertinent details regarding Performance Monitoring Reports are provided above.)

2 CFR Part 200 - Subpart D applies to this program.
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.

2 CFR Part 200, Subpart D applies to this program.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
This program has no statutory formula.
Matching Requirements: Percent: 100.%. A grant recipient is required to match the USDA funds awarded on a dollar-for-dollar (100%) basis from non-Federal sources.

Matching funds are not required to come in any particular amount from any one source.

However, all matching funds pledged in this application must be accompanied by documentation. See Part IV, B.5. SF 424 (R&R) Budget Fed and Non-Fed, Field K-Budget Justification, for additional details.

**Note #2 - Use of 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 22 percent pursuant to section 1462(a) of NARETPA (7 U.S.C. 3310(a)), the awardee may request 11 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 22 percent.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
The term of a competitive grant under this authority 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 Email: Policy@nifa.usda.gov Phone: (202) 720-2324 Fax: (202) 720-2030.
Website Address
http://nifa.usda.gov/program/secondary-education-two-year-postsecondary-education-and-agriculture-k-12-classroom
Financial Information
Account Identification
12-1500-0-1-352.
Obligations
(Project Grants) FY 14 $857,925; FY 15 est $856,500; 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.

NOTE:
Funding associated with this program has been transferred to the Department of Education or the National Science Foundation in the President's FY 2016 Budget proposal. Therefore, FY 2016 funds are not reported for the NIFA program.
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:

High School will help high school students with desire successfully make the transition from high school to the postsecondary activities; to help underperforming students transition into the agriscience workforce which will hopefully give them the incentive and confidence to apply themselves to future postsecondary activities; and to encourage students to pursue agriscience careers that otherwise would not. The target audiences are high school students, high school graduates, and agriscience educators. This project will result in the development of a novel oyster farm service learning program that promotes sustainable seafood and agriscience activities. It will also promote the development of a service learning based curriculum that can be shared with other educators through site visits and presentations at education conferences. The project is expected to increase in the production of high school graduates that are academically prepared to attend college and obtain degrees related to the agriscience industry; an increase in the production of high quality, well-trained professionals able to fill vacancies created from the retirement of the marine science workforce; the development, expansion, and enhancement of curriculum components; the culture and deployment of oysters for restoration projects, along with the environmental benefits associated with the establishment of functioning oyster reef; the culture and harvest of oysters for developing a new area industry, along with the secondary
environmental benefits of oyster farming such as removal of nitrogen and diversification of habitat for other species; an increase in the awareness of coastal residents of ways to protect aquatic resources; and increases in the number of science fair awards, presentations given at scientific meetings and peer-reviewed scientific publications by the students of ABHS.

High School of Horry County School District proposes the Agricultural Education and Occupational preparation Project (AEOPP) as an innovative approach to match our community and state opportunities in the areas of agriculture and environmental systems. The project addresses readiness to move from school to work within community locations, improve the graduation rate among special education students (students with an Individual Education Plan), as well as implementation of innovative coursework incorporating personalized digital learning, hands-on experience and off site field experiences. High School has a current enrollment of 1257 students with a lower socioeconomic status as measured by free and reduced rate of 73.2%. With support from Horry Georgetown Technical College, the components of the project will include curriculum development, instructional delivery systems and expanded student career opportunities. Professional development in teaching competencies will incorporate an innovative approach to support special education students in completing 24 required courses and 380 hours of work experience to receive an Occupational Diploma upon graduation. Horry County Schools

Occupational Diploma is for students served with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and requires an alternative course of study. The Occupational Diploma is recognized by Technical College through a variety of post-secondary programs of study for special education students including agriculture. Through mentorships and co-teaching of units within science research course (regular education elective for graduation requirements providing community hours for regular education diploma students), students actively engage in coursework designed within unit topics incorporating hands-on experiences and interfacing with professionals from around the surrounding community to coach and mentor students. Additionally, the project will focus special attention to recruit mentors among females and African-American students. The social construction of gender is apparent in farming because of the male-dominated nature of the industry and the expected roles for women. The African American population comprises 25 % of the total school population of which half are females.

The Community College District project will have two main objectives. The first objective is to expand the current offerings of our Mobile Precision Ag Lab to include Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and highly advanced planter technologies. These advanced, cutting-edge technologies will build upon our current grades 9 through 12 precision agriculture curriculum with more on-site, hands-on activities and demonstrations guided by a community college instructor. The second objective is to create a precision agriculture training center. The Ag Center for Knowledge and Skills (ePACKS) will develop a creative learning environment to enhance secondary educators' precision agriculture knowledge and skills. By partnering with precision agriculture businesses, grade 9-14 students and educators will receive up-to-date training from industry leaders and establish relationships with potential employers. Enhancement of secondary instruction and subsequent entry into postsecondary education related to agricultural sciences will help meet current and future workforce training needs for precision agriculture technicians. Increasing the precision agriculture workforce in turn will help address global food supply and security issues and can assist in preventing and reacting to climate change through the careful application of resources. Fiscal Year 2015: For FY 2015:

Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date. Fiscal Year 2016: For FY 2016:

Information is not yet available. Pertinent details to be provided by Program at a future date.