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USDA Announces Commitment to Strengthen Hispanic-serving Higher Education Institutions

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh announced today a $12 million investment to Hispanic-serving Institutions of higher education. This announcement was part of a launch of the first in a series of virtual roundtable engagement sessions with Minority-serving Institutions and Land-grant Universities serving underrepresented students.

“We recognize and value the multifaceted contributions of our nation’s Hispanic-serving Institutions, which educate more than 3.2 million students every year across the country. USDA has the great privilege of partnering with Hispanic-serving Institutions, and Minority-serving Institutions as a whole, to advance scientific research, develop future agricultural leaders and, we hope, cultivate the next generation of USDA employees,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

During the virtual roundtable engagement session today, USDA leaders emphasized their commitment to advancing investments in innovative research and partnerships with academic institutions critical to building an agricultural workforce and research infrastructure that meet the needs of the diverse populations we serve.

HSI leaders present at the roundtable today represented institutions that received funding as part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Hispanic-serving Institutions Education Grants Program that enhances student learning experiences and opportunities across the agriculture sector.

Today’s announcement includes investments in institutions located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Texas.

The $12 million investment to Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) will help strengthen their ability to attract, retain and graduate underrepresented students pursuing careers in agriculture, natural resources and human sciences.

Project examples include:

  • California State University (Long Beach) will use its $975,314 grant to strengthen its “Leveraging Interdisciplinary Nutritional Knowledge (LINK)” Program that’s aimed at supporting undergraduate and graduate students in the food and human sciences professional and scientific workforce. LINK is a comprehensive collaboration between six Hispanic-serving Institutions in Southern California and emphasizes Latino nutrition through outreach, mentoring, education, support services, research, and professional internships with community partners.
  • Florida International University will use its $975,314 grant to enhance its Broadening Agriculture Science Education program for Hispanic Students through its Florida-Texas-New-Mexico Consortium, which aims to recruit, cultivate, and prepare students for career and leadership opportunities in the U.S. agriculture industry.
  • Research Foundation of the City University of New York will use its $250,000 grant to invest in “Project SEMBRAR: Diversifying the next generation of urban agricultural STEM leaders.” This grant will help support low income, first-generation minority students by helping them achieve their academic goals.
  • Ana G. Mendez University (Puerto Rico) will use its $275,000 grant to develop and implement the Agriculture Diverse Learning Program to enhance the teaching skills and abilities of graduate-level teachers (grades 9-12) in agricultural-related sciences. The program bridges secondary schools’ needs and the University’s program to ensure the success and readiness of underrepresented students to become the next generation of agricultural leaders in Puerto Rico.
  • Texas A&M (Kingsville) will use its $975,314 grant to support its “GO START NOW” (Getting Occupational Student Training in Agricultural Research Through Novel Workshops) project. Through this project students are exposed experiential based learning and partnerships with USDA researchers. Project activities will improve the food and agricultural-science education by exposing students to novel experiences unavailable within the traditional classroom. Many of the students in this program are first generation college students.

View the full list of funded Hispanic-serving Institutions Education Grants projects on the NIFA website

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit


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