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Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program (SPECA)

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Schools, and IHEs to Improve K-14
Science Education to Prepare Students for the Workforce

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Deadline Date:

02/04/21 5:00 PM ET Receipt


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Grants to USA nonprofit organizations, high schools, and institutions of higher education to improve K-14 science education in eligible disciplines to prepare students for the workforce. Funding is intended to support the preparation of teaching methods and learning materials to encourage increasing numbers of students to pursue degrees in the food, agriculture, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences.

The purpose of the SPECA program is to award grants to: 

  1. Enhance the quality of K-14 instruction in order to help meet current and future national food, agricultural, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences workplace needs.
  2. Increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue and complete a 2 or 4-year degree in the food, agricultural, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences. 

SPECA-funded projects encourage academic institutions, in partnership with organizations and employers to identify and address challenges facing the FANH sciences education and workforce community. Accordingly, SPECA-funded project activities shall support the creation, adaptation, and adoption of learning materials and teaching strategies to operationalize what is known about how students learn. 

Program Category. Your project must support academic instruction with a primary focus in at least one of the following three K-14 Grade Levels:

  1. Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (AITC): Projects specifically developed by or for the state AITC program. (Note: A letter of support from the relevant state AITC organization endorsing your project, clarifying the absence of duplication with existing materials or projects, and explaining its implementation process into the academic system must accompany applications submitted in this Program Category) 
  2. Secondary School: Projects with a specific focus on any of the academic grades 9 through 12 
  3. Junior or Community College: Projects with a specific focus on associate degree level (2-year postsecondary) activities A SPECA-funded project must focus on any of the K-14 grade levels. Projects with a target audience of a baccalaureate or higher-level students or teachers should, instead, be referred to the Higher Education Challenge Grants Program offered through NIFA at HEC. 

Educational Need Areas. When preparing a SPECA-funded project, the rationale for choosing a particular Educational Need Area below must be explained in the context of how the project can contribute to the development of a cadre of students who will either pursue higher degrees in the FANH sciences or be prepared to enter the FANH sciences workforce. 

Educational Need Areas for the SPECA program are:

  1. Curriculum Development, Instructional Delivery Systems, and Expanding Student Career Opportunities
  2. Faculty Preparation and Enhancement for Teaching
  3. Facilitating Interaction with other Academic Institutions

For more information about the Educational Need Areas, see the following link:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180249

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

- Regular Project: Applicants may request up to $50,000 (total, not per year)
- Collaborative Grant Type 1 (CG1) (Applicant + One or more Partners): Applicants may request up to $150,000 (total, not per year)
- Collaborative Grant Type 2 (CG2) (Applicant + Two or more Partners): Applicants may request up to $300,000 (total, not per year)

Term of Contract:

Regular and CG1 project periods may range from 24 to 36 months, including time to evaluate the results and report the impacts.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applications may only be submitted by: (1) public secondary schools, (2) public or private nonprofit junior and community colleges, (3) institutions of higher education, or (4) 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

If an institution/organization cannot accept Federal funds directly, it must submit a letter stating that it will accept the award, but that funds must be administered through a fiscal agent organization.

Please note: Fiscal agents and school boards are not eligible as legal recipients of the award.

Pre-Application Information:

Posted Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Closing Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020

Applicants must apply to this RFA electronically; no other method or response is accepted. The electronic application for this RFA and additional resources are available on

New Users to must register early with prior to submitting an application.

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For a list of application documents, see the Package tab (press Preview) on the page above.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Erin Riley, National Program Leader
5SW007 Beacon Complex
(816) 926-2131
(202) 505-0361

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

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