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NIFA Funds Tribal Programs to Support Learning, Health & Opportunity

Posted by Erin Riley, NIFA National Program Leader, Tribal Programs in Research and Science
Nov 20, 2020

Native American woman and daughter

Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program allows 1890 and 1862 Land-grant Universities to provide informal learning to support youth development and agricultural productivity. Photo by Getty Images

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funds programs that promote learning, opportunities and health in Tribal communities. The total amount NIFA invested in all Tribal programs in FY 2020 was approximately $28 million.

Tribal land-grant colleges and universities infuse components of Native American culture in their teaching curriculum. For example, an environmental biology class may be combined with studies of Navajo names of plant species. Through Tribal research grants, tribal colleges partner with other land-grant universities to address issues of interest to local Native American communities, such as preserving tribal forests or protecting water quality on reservations. Tribal college extension services reach out to Native American ranchers and farmers to improve farm profitability. They also provide vital health, safety and economic development information to tribal communities. The Tribal Colleges also receive an endowment that supports facilities and other critical needs at these schools.

NIFA has five grants that specifically target Tribal communities. Three of these grants support learning at 1994 Land-Grant Universities, also known as federally recognized Tribal colleges. In addition, the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program supports 1994’s, 1890 and 1862 land-grant universities that provide informal, community-based learning on reservations. The New Beginning for Tribal Students grant program aims to graduate Tribal students from land-grant institutions.

Funding for 1994 Land-Grant Institutions: The 1994 Land-Grant Universities receive three main types of grants: Tribal College Equity supports formal education at these schools. Tribal College Extension supports informal, community-based learning such as farmer education, youth development and rural entrepreneurship. Tribal College Research helps the 1994 Land-Grants build scientific capacity and provide a strong foundation in research knowledge for students.

New Beginning for Tribal Students: This program makes competitive grants to land-grant colleges and universities to provide support for Tribal students. This program is aimed to increase the retention and graduation rate of Tribal students enrolled at the land-grant college or university. In 2020 NIFA awarded $4.8 million to 20 different colleges and universities across the country.

Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program allows 1890, 1862 and 1994 Land-Grant Universities to provide informal learning to support youth development and agricultural productivity. Offices are located on reservations, and staff members partner with communities, governments and Tribal colleges.

NIFA is proud to support Native American communities. Learn more about NIFA’s Tribal Programs, partnerships and resources. NIFA-funded programs support multiple themes outlined in the USDA Science Blueprint (PDF, 2.6 MB) and move us closer to meeting the goals outlined in USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda.

Category/Topic: Research and Science