Grant Details

Secondary & Postsecondary Education & Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (SPECA)

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)


    The Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (SPECA) Challenge Grants Program is a NIFA-administered competitive grants program focused on improving formal, K-14 food, agricultural, natural resource, and human (FANH) sciences education. SPECA-funded projects ensure a competent and qualified workforce will exist to serve the FANH sciences system.

    At the same time, SPECA-funded projects improve the economic health and viability of communities through the development of degree programs emphasizing new and emerging employment opportunities. Finally, SPECA projects address the national challenge to increase the number and diversity of students entering the FANH sciences (i.e., having a FANH sciences workforce representative of the Nations population).

    Therefore, applications submitted to this grants program must state how the funded project will address the SPECA Program Goals:

    • To enhance the quality of secondary and two-year postsecondary instruction in order to help meet current and future national food, agricultural, natural resources , and human (FANH) sciences workplace needs; and
    • To increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue and complete a 2- or 4-year degree in the food, agricultural, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences

    The development of leadership skills, knowledge, and qualities are necessary to prepare students for agricultural and related careers in the private sector, government, and academia. SPECA education applications must demonstrably incorporate a leadership development component to equip students with technical and leadership abilities upon graduation. Specific activities may include:

    • Developing practical applications to increase understanding of leadership roles, including critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills; ethics and professionalism; and working in teams;
    • Connecting the academic classroom experience with daily leadership roles and organizational activities;
    • Providing opportunities for mentoring and shadowing; and
    • Organizing leadership academies, workshops, trainings, etc. 

    Projects must support for-credit, academic instruction with a primary focus in at least one of the following three K-14 Grade Levels:

    • Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom: Projects specifically developed by or for the state Agriculture in the Classroom program (Note: A letter of support from the relevant state AITC organization endorsing your project, clarifying the absence of duplication with existing materials or projects, and explaining its implementation process into the academic system must accompany applications submitted in this Program Category);
    • Secondary School: Projects with a specific focus on any of the academic grades 9 through 12; or
    • Junior or Community College: Projects with a specific focus on associate degree-level (2-year postsecondary) activities 

    History of Funding

    Since 2006, NIFA has awarded more than $7 million through the SPECA program to support K-14 educational and vocational training in the agricultural sciences, which contribute to a skilled, diverse scientific workforce in agriculture. Previously-funded projects include Dig It STL!(, an internship program training St. Louis, Missouri, teens in urban agriculture and community leadership. Ellsworth Community College( in Iowa Falls, Iowa, expanded its Mobile Precision Ag Lab, a traveling high school agriculture curriculum with more onsite, hands-on activities and demonstrations, including unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced planter technologies. The project also established a Center for Knowledge and Skills to help students establish relationships with potential employers.

    Additional Information

    In FY2019 funding is available for Regular and Collaborative grants only. NIFA supports global engagement that advances U.S. agricultural goals. To attain the agency's goals for U.S. agriculture, global competence of our nations agricultural workforce, and safe and nutritious food security in a growing world, NIFA recognizes that collaboration with international partners can contribute to advances in U.S. agriculture. In an increasingly interconnected world, these U.S. advances may have global importance. Thus, applications in response to NIFA programs are strongly encouraged to include collaborations with international partners, but may only be submitted by eligible U.S. institutions.


    Victoria LeBeaux

    Victoria LeBeaux
    4441 Waterfront Centre
    Washington, DC 20250-2201
    (202) 720-2067
    (202) 720-9366

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants are only:
    • Public secondary schools;
    • Public or private nonprofit junior and community colleges;
    • Institutions of higher education; or
    • Nonprofit organizations

    Deadline Details

    Applications are to be submitted by April 16, 2019. A similar deadline date is anticipated annually. 

    Award Details

    Up to $800,000 was available in total funding for FY19. Individual awards vary based on program category:

    • Regular Grants Applicants may request up to $50,000 (total, not per year) project periods may range from 24 to 36 months, including time to evaluate the results and report the impacts.
    • Collaborative Grant Type 1 (CG1) (Applicant + One or more Partners) Applicants may request up to $150,000 (total, not per year) The partners must share grant funds. project periods may range from 24 to 36 months, including time to evaluate the results and report the impacts.
    • Collaborative Grant Type 2 (CG2) (Applicant + Two or more Partners) Applicants may request up to $300,000 (total, not per year) CG2 projects are required to have project periods of 36 months.

    A cost matching requirement of 1:1 is required unless otherwise specified.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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