VSU to receive nearly $2 million in USDA grants

ETTRICK – Virginia State University will receive nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is intended to strengthen research and teaching at historically black land-grant universities.

VSU is among 17 schools that received 76 grants totaling more than $35 million as part of an ongoing effort for the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to foster partnerships with 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities and support educational opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

All told, VSU will receive four grants totaling $1.87 million.

“For nearly 125 years, the 1890 land-grant institutions have played a vital role in ensuring access to higher education and opportunity for underserved communities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday in announcing the grants. “These competitively-awarded grants support high quality research, teaching and Extension activities and support the continued leadership of 1890 institutions in the fields of agriculture, the environment and public health.”

NIFA is awarding $17.7 million in grants through Capacity Building Grants in the areas of research, extension and teaching. The grants are intended to support agricultural science programs while promoting relationships between the historically black land-grant universities, other colleges and universities, USDA and private industry. The program focuses on advancing cultural diversity in the scientific and professional workforce by attracting and educating more students from underrepresented groups. The grants coincide with focus with NIFA’s priority areas of sustainable bioenergy, food security, childhood obesity prevention, climate change and food safety.

VSU is receiving two awards for research totaling $590,470. Also, VSU is receiving a teaching grant of $300,000.

VSU is also among the universities receiving a grant from the NIFA’s 1890 Facilities Grants Program. VSU will receive $981,494 for acquiring and improving food sciences facilities and equipment, including libraries.

The 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities helps in teaching students to meet the innovative research needs that are vital to the well being of our nation’s food, fuel and fiber, according to the USDA. The agency’s 1890 National Program works with universities and community-based organizations to bring services and information to rural-based minority communities, and limited resource, veteran and female farmers, and providing information to approximately 60,843 small farmers, ranchers and farming organizations in underserved communities.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future, according to the USDA. Of the $647 million awarded to 1890s universities from 2009 through 2013, more than $600 million was awarded for research and development in the form of grants, cooperative research and development agreements, research support agreements and specific cooperative agreements.

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