The Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (SPECA) Challenge Grants Program is a NIFA-administered competitive grants program focused on improving formal, K-14 food, agricultural, natural resource, and human (FANH) sciences education. SPECA-funded projects ensure a competent and qualified workforce will exist to serve the FANH sciences system.
At the same time, SPECA-funded projects improve the economic health and viability of communities through the development of degree programs emphasizing new and emerging employment opportunities. Finally, SPECA projects address the national challenge to increase the number and diversity of students entering the FANH sciences (i.e., having a FANH sciences workforce representative of the Nations population).
Therefore, applications submitted to this grants program must state how the funded project will address the SPECA Program Goals:
- To enhance the quality of secondary and two-year postsecondary instruction in order to help meet current and future national food, agricultural, natural resources , and human (FANH) sciences workplace needs; and
- To 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
The development of leadership skills, knowledge, and qualities are necessary to prepare students for agricultural and related careers in the private sector, government, and academia. SPECA education applications must demonstrably incorporate a leadership development component to equip students with technical and leadership abilities upon graduation. Specific activities may include:
- Developing practical applications to increase understanding of leadership roles, including critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills; ethics and professionalism; and working in teams;
- Connecting the academic classroom experience with daily leadership roles and organizational activities;
- Providing opportunities for mentoring and shadowing; and
- Organizing leadership academies, workshops, trainings, etc.
Projects must support for-credit, academic instruction with a primary focus in at least one of the following three K-14 Grade Levels:
- Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom: Projects specifically developed by or for the state Agriculture in the Classroom 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);
- Secondary School: Projects with a specific focus on any of the academic grades 9 through 12; or
- Junior or Community College: Projects with a specific focus on associate degree-level (2-year postsecondary) activities
In FY2020 funding is available for Regular and Collaborative grants only. NIFA supports global engagement that advances U.S. agricultural goals. To attain the agency's goals for U.S. agriculture, global competence of our nations agricultural workforce, and safe and nutritious food security in a growing world, NIFA recognizes that collaboration with international partners can contribute to advances in U.S. agriculture. In an increasingly interconnected world, these U.S. advances may have global importance. Thus, applications in response to NIFA programs are strongly encouraged to include collaborations with international partners, but may only be submitted by eligible U.S. institutions.