Program Summary

Program Summary

The purpose of this program is to support innovative teaching or education proposals in any discipline(s) or subject matter area(s) of the food, agriculture, natural resources or human sciences. While research and extension activities may be included in a project, the primary focus must be to improve teaching, enrollment, and graduation rates within a degree-granting program. Applications must be directed to formal, for-credit academic programs at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels of study.

In order to support the future workforce needs of the food and agriculture sector, the HSI Grants Program must align with National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) priorities. NIFA has refocused its mission by directing agricultural sciences research, education, and extension programs to address the following six Priority Need Areas:

  1.  Agricultural and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change
  2. Food Security and Hunger
  3. Food Safety
  4. Water for Agriculture
  5. Childhood Obesity and Prevention
  6. Sustainable Bioenergy

The term "food and agricultural sciences" means basic, applied, and developmental teaching activities in food and fiber, agricultural, renewable energy and natural resources, forestry, and physical and social sciences, or rural economic, community, or business development including activities relating to the following: (1) Animal health, production, and well-being; (2) Plant health and production; (3) Animal and plant germ plasm collection and preservation; (4) Aquaculture; (5) Food safety; (6) Soil and water conservation and improvement; (7) Forestry, horticulture, and range management; (8) Nutritional sciences and promotion; (9)Farm enhancement, including financial management, input efficiency, and profitability; (10) Home economics; (11) Rural human ecology; (12) Youth development and agricultural education, including 4–H clubs; (13) Expansion of domestic and international markets for agricultural commodities and products, including agricultural trade barrier identification and analysis; (14)  Information management and technology transfer related to agriculture; (15) Biotechnology related to agriculture; and (16) the processing, distributing, marketing, and utilization of food and agricultural products.

There are three grant types: Strengthening (deadline 4/16), Standard (Deadline 4/21), and Collaboration (Deadline 4/23). 

  1. Strengthening:  Up to 250K total (not per year) for four years.  This may be submitted by a single Hispanic-Serving Institution (two or 4-year degree granting College or University), a set of Hispanic-serving Institutions, or a Hispanic-Serving Institution as a lead working with other non-Hispanic-Serving Institutions. The lead institution must be an HSI. These funds are expected to enhance institutional capacity with the goal of leading to future funding in the project area, as well as strengthen the competitiveness of the applicant’s education activities. The educational activities should be designed to: (1) increase the pool of highly-qualified underrepresented students in professional careers in the food and agricultural sciences and USDA’s workforce; (2) make more state-of the-art scientific knowledge readily available to the Hispanic-Serving Institutions; (3) provide technical and financial assistance through grant and scholarship programs to recruit and retain talented students and faculty; and (4) provide support for utilizing and developing the professional faculty and staff as a source of expertise deemed important
  2. Standard: Up to 250K/year for 1 year (total costs), with the opportunity for renewal for three additional years, for a total of $1,000,000.  This is a project in which a group of up to three Hispanic-Serving Institutions form a bridging arrangement for the purpose of carrying out common objective(s) on the group’s behalf in order to promote and strengthen their abilities to carry out higher education programs related to the food, agricultural, and natural resources and human sciences. Grants are designed to help institutions develop competitive projects, and to attract new students into careers in high-priority areas of national need. These institutions will work together to support fifteen undergraduate and ten graduate students from underrepresented groups to complete Baccalaureate, and MS or PhDs when applicable in the disciplines and subject matter areas supported. Each project will recruit, retain, and graduate at least 25 students in a discipline (or closely aligned field) at the baccalaureate or graduate level.
  3. Collaboration:  Up to 500K/year (total costs), with the opportunity to renew for three more years.  This is an application from four or more Hispanic-Serving Institutions that will build linkages to generate a critical mass of expertise to address an activity focused to carry out higher education programs related to the food, agricultural, and natural resources and human sciences. Projects that assemble critical mass of expertise to enhance education programs on NIFA Priority Areas with the goal of leading to larger integrated funding applications in the future is encouraged. A successful collaborative project that builds linkages to generate critical mass of expertise is expected to increase cost effectiveness, achieve economies of scale, strengthen the scope and quality of a project’s impact, and reach a larger number of institutions and students. Collaboration projects will fund and conduct recruitment activities to select 50 students (44 B.S.,5 M.S., and 1Ph.D.) interested in food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences.

Application Limits

Application Limits

UIC may submit 4 Strengthening applications, 2 Standard applications, and 2 Collaboration applications.

Additional Information


UIC Letter of Intent
April 1, 2015
UIC Internal Competition
April 1, 2015
Sponsor Letter of Intent
Sponsor Application
April 16, 2015

Letter of Intent

Letter of Intent

In lieu of the standard LOI form, please provide the following very brief project summary by Noon on April 1, 2015 to   This should only include the following:

  • Title – not more than 140 characters
  • Project Director(s) names, title, unit affiliations
  • List your project’s Priority Need Area (from list of six, above)
  • Note the Academic major where the project’s primary focus will occur
  • 250 word summary of:
    • Purpose: What is the major problem your project will address?
    • Audience: Who are the intended beneficiaries? Who will be impacted? How many?
    • Number of students that will benefit from the project: How many? Degree level?
    • Products: What will be produced?
    • Outcome/Impact: What is the intended result (consequence) of your project?  Describe as the primary benefits to your audience. Note: outcomes/impacts should be measurable
  • Include a 4 page CV for PI

Please contact Tony Halford at or 6-7036 with any questions.

If an authorized principal investigator is not listed above, please consider the limited competition still open. Contact for further information.