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USDA Invests Funds to Support Hispanic-serving Institutions, Students on the Road to Educational Success

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced an investment of $15.5 million in USDA’s Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program.

“For generations, Hispanic-serving Institutions have helped enrich and empower the lives of students across our country,” said Deputy Secretary Torres Small. “These important colleges and universities provide opportunity for students to chart their own path towards their version of the American dream. USDA looks forward to its continued partnership with HSI’s and to working with, and hiring, the next generation of agriculture professionals from these valued institutions.”

The Hispanic-serving Institutions Education Grants Program, administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), promotes and strengthens the ability of HSIs to carry out higher education programs in food and agricultural sciences. Our nation’s 572 HSIs educate more than 5 million students every year and over 3 million are Hispanic.

This grant program aligns with USDA’s efforts to cultivate the next generation of food and agricultural professionals and build the workforce of the future by providing academic support and career opportunities to enhance and increase access for Hispanic and underrepresented students.

“USDA recognizes the vital role Hispanic-serving Institutions play in developing the next generation of agricultural leaders and in fostering an inclusive educational environment for all students,” said USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young. “We are honored to work side by side with our HSIs as we establish an educational pipeline that more fully represents the many diverse populations and voices in America.”

In total, NIFA awarded 21 HSIs funding across 25 funded projects. Examples include:

  • The “Future Leaders in Bio-Derived Organic Energy Storage Materials” project at the City College of New York will mentor and train a cohort of Hispanic students in the field of bioderived organic materials as sustainable battery components. Outcomes will include well-trained students in interdisciplinary research in future energy storage materials and provide an increased skilled workforce for the USDA.
  • The “Building Capacity in Microbiome Innovation for Plant Health, Soil Fertility, and Environmental Sustainability at Hispanic-serving Institutions” project at Florida Atlantic University will create the first regional microbiome innovation center in south Florida as a rallying theme for training a diverse highly skilled workforce in the food, agriculture and natural resource fields.
  • The “Skills Development in Synthetic Biology for Climate Smart and Sustainable Agriculture” project at the University of Houston will introduce underrepresented students to career opportunities in agriculture by developing new courses in plant biotechnology and synthetic biology. Students will acquire experiential and project-based learning involving genetic engineering of plants and microbes to improve soil health and plant productivity.
  • The “Milpa Agricultural Placemaking Project” at the University of North Texas will partner with local farmers markets, community gardens, Texas A&M University facilities in Dallas, and the Texas AgriLife Extension service to help support local agricultural activities and create new opportunities for student leadership and career development.


2023 Awardees: Bergen Community College, NJ; California State University - Fullerton; California State University - Los Angeles; California State University - San Bernardino; Florida Atlantic University; Florida International University; Hartnell Community College, CA; Houston Community College, TX; Inter American University of Puerto Rico; Los Angeles City College; Northern Arizona University (two awards); North Shore Community College, MA; Sam Houston State University; St. Mary's University, TX; Texas A&M University; Texas State University (two awards); The City College, NY; The University of Texas at San Antonio; University of Arizona (two awards); University of Houston; University of North Texas (two awards).

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, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, 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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