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USDA Invests $4.8 Million In Three 1890 Centers of Excellence

(Washington, D.C., June 3, 2020) – Today, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) announced an investment of $4.8 million to support Centers of Excellence at 1890 Land-Grant Institutions in America. The investments in these institutions is made possible through the NIFA 1890 Centers of Excellence (COE) Grants program, funded through the FY 2019 Federal Appropriations Bill.

“Access to research and educational opportunities is a cornerstone of prosperity, and this investment will help provide opportunities for America’s underserved and disadvantaged farmers by providing access to research and educational opportunities that will enhance the quality of life in our rural communities,” said Deputy Under Secretary Scott Hutchins. Hutchins leads USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area and provides strategic leadership for the mission area’s scientific research portfolio.

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke at the virtual graduation ceremony for twenty-six USDA-1890 scholars from 13 different 1890 universities who were unable to attend a graduation ceremony due to COVID-19. Also in attendance were Dr. Makola M. Abdullah (President of Virginia State University & Chair of 1890 Council of Presidents), and Representatives Sanford Bishop and Alma Adams. The Secretary’s remarks centered on the current challenges facing our country and how to persevere in the face of adversity. You may play the Sonny Perdue Addresses USDA 1890 Scholars video or on the image below to listen to the Secretary’s remarks.

Sonny Perdue addressing USDA 1890 Scholars


The 1890 COE Program provides support for Centers of Excellence that were originally established in 2015 in conjunction with the 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act of 1890. The 1890’s COE are hosted by 1890 Land-Grant Institutions with the goals of: increasing profitability and rural prosperity in underserved farming communities; addressing critical needs for enhanced international training and development; and increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM) pipeline.

The White House Task Force on Rural Prosperity notes agriculture is an important driver of the rural economy. These three institutions are uniquely suited to create opportunities to develop and harness technological innovation to bolster the rural workforce to ultimately improve the quality of life in underserved areas.

Each of the following universities is awarded a $1,600,000 grant:

  • University of Maryland – Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Maryland, for its Center of Excellence for International Engagement and Development (CEIED)
    • The University of Maryland’s CEIED will fund teaching, research, extension, and integrated projects designed to supply the United States with a globally educated workforce and support critical global development needs.
  • Tuskegee University – Tuskegee, Alabama, for its Center for Innovation and Sustainable Small Farms, Ranches, and Forestlands (CISFR)
    • Tuskegee University’s CISFR will fund research, extension, and integrated projects designed to increase profitability, natural resource conservation and market demand for small farmers, including socially disadvantaged/underserved farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University – Greensboro, North Carolina, for its Virtual Center to Motivate and Educate for Achievement (MEA)
    • North Carolina A&T State University’s MEA will fund teaching, research and extension projects to enhance academic achievement in food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural sciences, visit, NIFA’s website, and follow NIFA on Twitter.


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