Higher Education Challenge Grants

To increase institutional capacities to respond to State, regional, national, or international educational needs by strengthening college and university teaching programs in the food and agricultural sciences.

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Digital Library for Diagnosis, Conferencing and Education; Applications of Functional Anatomy in Farm Animals Using Collaborative Learning; Foreign Disease Curriculum Development of Veterinary Colleges; anf Transferring Experts' Reasoning to Novice Learners in Food Product Development.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

An example of program accomplishments: One university developed a course entitled, "Biotechnology: Science and Socio-Economic Issues" presented in two formats: as a traditional on-campus lecture class for undergraduates and as an innovative distance education course. The course introduces genetic engineering and the basic scientific theory of biotechnology in animal, plant, food, and economic research, and the latest applications of biotechnology in agriculture production.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds may be used only in targeted areas, e.g., curricula design and materials development, faculty preparation and enhancement for teaching, instruction delivery systems, scientific instrumentation for teaching, student experiential learning, and student recruitment and retention, as cited in the annual program announcement in the Federal Register.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

All U.S.

public and private nonprofit colleges and universities offering a baccalaureate or first professional degree in at least one discipline or area of the food and agricultural sciences.

Beneficiary Eligibility

All U.S. colleges and universities having a demonstrable capacity to teach the food and agricultural sciences.


Each first-time recipient must furnish organizational management information requested by the funding agency, and each applicant must provide assurances specified in the annual solicitation of applications.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

All proposal solicitations are published on the Agency's Web site.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Formal proposals should be submitted to the Proposal Services Unit, CSREES, as outlined in the solicitation of applications. Application procedures are contained in the program regulations and required forms are contained in the Grant Application Kit. This program is subject to the regulatory provisions of USDA, 7 CFR Part 3015, et seq., and all successor regulations.

Award Procedures

Proposals are reviewed and evaluated by CSREES staff members with the assistance and advice of peer panels of qualified educators, administrators, industrialists, and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the fields covered by the proposals. Proposals are supported in order of merit to the extent permitted by available funds. Grant payments may be made by the electronic transfer system, advance by Treasury check, or reimbursement by Treasury check.


Specific deadline dates are announced in the request for applications or guidelines for each fiscal year.


National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, Section 1417(b)(1), as amended, Public Law 95-113, 7 U.S.C. 3152.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 90 to 180 days.





Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Dollar-for-dollar matching funds from nonfederal sources is required.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Grants are awarded for a one to three-year period and may receive no-cost extensions as appropriate up to a maximum of five years.

Post Assistance Requirements


Annual progress reports.

Quarterly financial reports.

Final progress and financial reports are due within 90 days after project expiration.


Audits will be conducted in accordance with guidelines established in the revised OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," and implemented in 7 CFR Part 3052, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations."


Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are expended for authorized purposes. Grant related records must be retained beyond the three-year period if litigation is pending or audit findings have not been resolved.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $5,174,151; FY 08 est $5,227,200; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$47,936 to $152,000. Average: $89,479.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR Part 3015, USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations (implementing the provisions of OMB Circular Nos. A-21 and A-110); 7 CFR Part 3017, Government wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) and Government wide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Grants); 7 CFR Part 3018, Restrictions on Lobbying; 7 CFR part 3019, Uniform Administrative: Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations; 7 CFR Part 3405, Higher Education Challenge Grants, Administrative Provisions, and Grant Application Kit.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

National Program Leader - Higher Education Challenge Grants; Higher Education Programs; Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service; U.S. Department of Agriculture; STOP 2251; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-2251; Telephone: (202) 720-1973; Fax: (202) 720-2030.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Proposals are evaluated using the following criteria: Potential for advancing quality of education/significance of the problem; proposed approach and cooperative linkages; institutional capability and capacity building; key personnel; and budget and cost-effectiveness.

Social Entrepreneurship

Rwanda as Social Entrepreneur Fund Beneficiary

The Republic of Rwanda has been picked as one of the six African countries as beneficiaries for a new fellowship fund program designed at supporting social entrepreneurs in tackling issues on food security.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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