The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are offering funds through its 2023 Equity in Conservation Outreach Cooperative Agreements to expand conservation assistance to historically underserved producers and underserved communities and to provide opportunities for students to pursue careers in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.
Purpose and Priorities
The purpose of Equity in Conservation Outreach Cooperative Agreements is to leverage NRCS and partner resources by developing community-led conservation projects so that historically underserved producers and underserved communities will be able to access NRCS programs and services and learn of potential career opportunities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences. Through this NFO, eligible applicants may propose projects that engage historically underserved producers and underserved communities equitably and offer access to opportunities through outreach activities that:
- Promote NRCS programs through education or demonstration of conservation practices;
- Develop community conservation partnerships that encourage historically underserved producers to plan and protect farmland ecosystems, watersheds, and wildlife habitat in geographical areas of underserved communities;
- Inform small scale or urban agriculture producers about participation in conservation programs; and
- Support education on, planning for, and adoption of conservation practices that are climate smart.
The priority areas that NRCS will consider for this NFO are:
- Addressing local natural resource issues. Outreach activities should support an understanding of the NRCS planning process and program implementation and provide opportunities for historically underserved producers to meet their conservation needs.
- Promoting potential conservation career opportunities. Outreach should promote career opportunities in conservation by recruiting students from underserved communities or who attend minority-serving institutions including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 1862 Tribal Colleges and Universities, 1890 and 1994 Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American/Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. Introduce the principles and benefits of natural resources conservation through education and build an understanding of careers in agriculture, natural resources conservation, and related employment that builds the future of sustainable farming by preparing a diverse, next generation of producers and conservationists.
- Promoting the adoption of climate-smart conservation. Outreach should assist historically underserved producers with understanding the support available through NRCS financial and technical assistance programs to help producers mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events though climate-smart conservation practices.
- Encouraging conservation in small-scale and urban agriculture. Outreach should promote partnerships that improve NRCS’s ability to connect with historically underserved producers and underserved communities on small acreage and increase their participation in NRCS conservation programs that meet the community’s needs for sustainable food production.
- Developing conservation leadership skills and opportunities. Outreach should inform historically underserved producers and underserved communities of leadership programs that will develop community leaders able to help NRCS with identifying local natural resource issues and community conservation priorities, as well as advance NRCS’s ability to incorporate underserved community priorities into its implementation of NRCS conservation programs.
- The Federal funding agency expects to award up to $70 million through this opportunity. However, the agency retains the discretion to award a larger or lesser amount.
- The estimated funding floor for this opportunity is $100,000, and the estimated funding ceiling is $1,000,000. The funding floor is the minimum agreement funding amount for the Federal share for each awarded agreement.
- Eligible Applicants:
- Conservation districts.
- Public and state-controlled institutions of higher education.
- Private nonprofit institutions of higher education.
- Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (other than institutions of higher education).
- Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (other than institutions of higher education).
- Native American tribal organizations.
- Native American tribal government (State Recognized).
- Native American tribal governments (Federally Recognized).
- Any award made pursuant to this NFO will be made to a single entity. Applicants that apply as “partnerships” or other similar groupings must clearly describe the relationship between the applicant and the “partner” parties. In all but exceptional cases, an awardee or sub-awardee relationship must be reflected in the award.
- An applicant organization may not submit more than one application for different projects or that propose different approaches. In the case of applications submitted as revisions or corrections to a previously submitted application under this NFO, the agency will consider the last application submitted prior to the established deadline.
For more information, visit Grants.gov.