USDA Grants Support Research, Education and Extension Activities at Tribal Land-Grant Colleges

From USDA:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced nearly $17 million in grants to tribal colleges and universities to support research, education and extension activities to support schools in American Indian communities focused on bolstering their students’ learning in the areas of science and mathematics. The announcement comes as individuals, families and communities across the nation celebrated Native American Heritage Month during November.

“For many Native American students, tribal colleges and universities are a critical option for moving beyond a high school education,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “We are proud to sponsor these tribal land-grant colleges and enable them to better serve the students who attend them as well as tribal communities.”

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 native plant species. Through the tribal research grants, tribal colleges partner with other land-grant universities to address issues of interest to the local Native American communities, such as preserving tribal forests or protecting water quality. 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 College Endowment supports facilities and other critical needs at these schools.

The Equity in Education Land-Grant Status Act of 1994 established 34 tribal colleges as land-grant universities. These institutions are tribally-controlled institutions of higher learning established to encourage American Indians to continue their education and to provide an environment that is culturally relevant to their students. NIFA programs are intended to strengthen research, extension and teaching capacity in the food and agricultural sciences at these institutions.

NIFA awarded $1.9 million in new grants through the Tribal College Research Grants program in fiscal year 2012. This program was designed to assist 1994 land-grant institutions (tribal colleges) build institutional research capacity through applied projects that address student educational needs and solve community, reservation or regional problems. FY 2012 awards include:

  • Dine College, Tsaile, Ariz., $199,982
  • Blackfeet Community College, Browning, Mont., $61,959
  • Aaniiih Nakoda College, Fort Belknap Agency, Mont., $200,000
  • Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Mont., $200,000
  • Navajo Technical College, Crownpoint, N.M., $85,000
  • Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, N.M., $50,000
  • United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, N.D., $85,000
  • United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, N.D., $59,860
  • Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Totten, N.D., $85,000
  • Sinte Gleska University, Mission, S.D., $170,000
  • Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Wash., $200,000
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Hayward, Wisc., $60,000
  • College of Menominee Nation, Keshena, Wisc., $200,000
  • College of Menominee Nation, Keshena, Wisc., $200,000

In addition, NIFA made $10.4 million in continuation grants for education and extension activities along with facility improvements and other critical needs at tribal colleges.

  • Tribal College Education Equity Grant: $3,335,000 – This program enhances educational opportunities for Native Americans in the food and agricultural sciences and is intended to strengthen institutional capacity to deliver relevant formal education opportunities.
  • Tribal College Extension Grant: $4,139,520 – This program works to increase Extension program capacity at 1994 land-grant institutions and address special needs, take advantage of important opportunities, and/or demonstrate long-term sustained benefits of Extension projects at tribal land-grant colleges and universities.
  • Federally Recognized Tribes Extension: $2,917,440 – The program supports Extension agents at 1862 land-grant institutions who establish Extension education programs on the Indian reservations and tribal jurisdictions of federally-recognized tribes.
  • Tribal Colleges Endowment Fund: $4,721,684 – These awards help tribal colleges develop capacity in their food and agricultural sciences teaching programs. As a companion program to the Tribal Colleges Equity Grants program, the fund is to be used for curricula and materials development, faculty development, student experiential learning programs, educational and classroom equipment and student recruitment.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. For more information, visit

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