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  • Writer's pictureKristin Cooper

“The Rapid Response to Novel Coronavirus: Innovating Formal and Non-Formal Educational Experiences

USDA NIFA AFRI has announced the FY 20 Education and Workforce Development Program which addresses projected shortfalls of qualified graduates in the agricultural, food, and renewable natural resources sectors of the U.S. economy. This RFA seeks applications for education and training grants that focus on further enhancing the distinct components of the pipeline for developing the workforce in the food and agricultural sciences. 

For this funding cycle, the EWD program has introduced a new program area, “The Rapid Response to Novel Coronavirus (SARS-COV-2): Innovating Formal and Non-Formal Educational Experiences in Food and Agricultural Sciences During the Time of Social Distancing” with code A7701”.  The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the nation's programs for youth development, education, and workforce development, including those in the food and agricultural sciences supporting the six Farm Bill Priority areas of AFRI. There is a need for the formal and non-formal education activities, particularly in the rural areas as the economy reopens, while social distancing to keep COVID-19 infection rates under control.

This program area priority addresses the need to develop and deploy rapid, reliable, and readily-adoptable strategies in workforce preparation through formal K-14 education, as well as in youth development through non-formal (e.g., extension) education to cultivate interest and competencies in STEM and agriculture during this challenging time. Funded projects are expected to develop tools, techniques, and other practices that can be rapidly adopted at home or by various educators and extension specialists to ensure the effective formal and non-formal education of K-14 students and youth development. 

Projects should develop and deploy rapid, reliable, and readily-adoptable formal and non-formal extension educational resources and strategies for youth and students at K-14 levels in disciplines of food and agricultural science supporting the six AFRI Farm Bill priority areas.  Formal and non-formal education and workforce development projects may utilize technology and create new digital or non-digital learning resources that can be deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic and during the recovery from it. Non-formal education programs for youth development should take a “whole child” approach given the psychological stress and trauma that can be manifested as a result of physical isolation or other stressors. Projects should include strategies to ensure access to content by diverse participants and/or practitioners during periods of limited or no internet or technology access. Projects should create or update, innovative, interactive learning resources that align with National and/or State Standards and are not duplicative of other existing resources. 

Regional Scale Grants are limited to $1,000,000 total per project (including indirect costs) for project periods of up to 2 years and are not renewable.  National Scale Grants must not exceed $3,000,000 total for up to 2 years.

Before preparing an application, applicants must contact Dr Emma Moran by email at to inquire about the suitability of their project for submission to this program. 

To learn more about this funding opportunity, please visit the program website:

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