WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently announced availability of $8.8 million in funding to support agricultural science education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program promotes and strengthens HSI programs that attract, retain and graduate outstanding students capable of enhancing the nation’s food, agricultural, natural resource and human sciences work force.
“Hispanic students earn only eight percent of the degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering, and math,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These investments help Hispanic-Serving Institutions promote STEM education and agricultural industry careers to all their students, including Hispanic students.”
While research and extension activities may be included in a funded HSI Education project, the primary focus must be to improve teaching, enrollment and graduation rates within a degree-granting program. One five-year project with Texas State University helped boost its completion rate to 92 percent. A NIFA grant to New Mexico Highlands University designed to increase the number of Hispanic students earning a Bachelor of Science degree has helped more than 1,100 students since 2009.
Eligible applicants are certified HSIs, which are public colleges and universities that have an enrollment that includes at least 25 percent Hispanic students. Currently, more than 400 HSIs are located in 21 states and Puerto Rico, serving more than 2 million students.
Past projects have included a Texas State University project that encourages female and Hispanic military Veterans to earn bachelor’s degrees in agriculture and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree programs. A project at Texas A&M University-Kingsville encourages students from underrepresented groups to pursue STEM degrees and careers as leaders in agriculture through training and internships at USDA agencies.
Proposals are due February 7, 9, and 10, 2017, depending on the grant category (conference, regular, collaboration).
For more details, see the HSI request for applications on the NIFA website.
NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative research, education and extension to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA support for the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel have resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability and ensuring food safety.
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