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Funder Tool Kits: USDA


This Funder Tool Kit specifically highlights the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It includes news, priorities, funding opportunities, and award history, as well as proposal guidance and resources. The Funder Tool Kits are a collaborative effort between the UCF Libraries and OR Research Development Team.


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FIND INFORMATION: News, Funding Opportunities, and Past Awards

USDA Latest News:

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USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Annual Report (2018 is most current report) - Selections from the report are included below:

NIFA: How We Work - Information on the three-pronged strategy to integrate research, education, and extension 

USDA NIFA Topics - The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports research, educational, and extension efforts in a wide range of scientific fields related to agricultural and behavioral sciences. To address contemporary agricultural challenges, we seek to catalyze transformative discoveries and enhance education and engagement.

NIFA Challenge Areas - NIFA supports research, education, and extension in five challenge areas. These challenge areas include childhood obesity, food safety, changing climate, sustainable bioenergy, and water for food production.  This page provides details on each of these areas and their strategic goals.

NIFA Organizational Structure - Includes offices, institutes, and divisions 

USDA Resources - This website houses a large volume of supporting materials, including a wide range of forms, webinars, reports, and other resources. Also at this website is the agency’s primary events calendar.

USDA NIFA Impacts - See featured success stories on USDA-funded research activities. Highlights groundbreaking discoveries and societal impacts of partners’ work. More examples of success stories are featured in NIFA’s Fresh from the Field newsletter and on Twitter, #NIFAImpacts

USDA Newsroom - Press Releases & Announcements, Blogs, and Speeches

USDA Social Media Resources

USDA Budget Information

Pivot database (USDA saved search) - find, track and share current/anticipated funding opportunities

NIFA Application Guide The guide provided is meant to serve as an example. Refer to and follow the Application Guide provided in the application package on for the specific funding opportunity of interest.

USDA NIFA RFAs - search for a grant opportunity

RFA List - list of USDA competitive RFAs

RFA Calendar - listing of upcoming RFAs

USDA Funding Programs - NIFA programs are the mechanism by which USDA pursues the mission to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. Some programs administer funding and offer leadership while others focus on national leadership and collaboration. For more information on a particular program, use the site’s search tool. Additional details can also be found here: USDA Program Charts. (USDA search) - Browse current/forecasted USDA funding opportunities.

  • USDA solicitations are typically posted on as well as on the agency-specific funding opportunity websites listed below. If pursuing a USDA funding opportunity, it is wise to subscribe to receive email updates for that opportunity, as it is not unusual for one or more amendments to be posted between the original release date and the due date.

Award Search:

FOIA Request Information (USDA/NIFA) 

USDA FOIA Reading Rooms for past/frequently requested records, divided by USDA group

Example USDA Integrated Proposal - From USDA National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program

The OR Research Development team maintains a library of internal/external submitted proposals and can assist with securing a sample and submitting FOIA requests. Contact Research Development for more information.

PLAN YOUR PROPOSAL: Guidance and Resources

USDA Grant Writing Webinar Series - Includes Grant Writing Tips/Essentials, Peer Review Process, and more.

NIFA Grant Training Guide - NIFA is committed to providing the guidance you need to navigate all stages of the grant process. Selected items from the guide are included below:

SDA/NIFA Grants Process Lifecycle - From submission through award closeout, divided by primary funding mechanism.

NIFA Peer Review Process

Grant Mechanisms - NIFA supports research, education, and extension activities through three primary grant mechanisms: competitive grantcapacity grant, and non-competitive grant.

  • Applying for a grant consists of three steps: (1) Search for a funding opportunity, (2) Determine whether you and your organization are eligible for the funding opportunity you’ve identified, (3) Apply for a grant.
  • Each of the three steps varies slightly based on the type of funding for which you apply. Differences in procedures for the primary funding mechanisms are noted in the NIFA Application Guide and the specific RFA.
  • For additional information, see the Appy to NIFA website and the FAQs on applying for a grant.

Grants Modernization and the new ezFedGrants System - NIFA is using ezFedGrants, a web-based system, to support this initiative. EzFedGrants is a grants and financial management system used by several USDA agencies.

Data Management Plans for NIFA-Funded Research, Education and Extension Projects - Includes requirements, recommendations, and FAQs.

UCF Library Support - The UCF library maintains a Data Management Research Guide. You can schedule a consultation to meet with a librarian for an in-depth one on one consultation specific to your research topic.

  • Crafting the Data Management Plan - led by Lee Dotson
  • DMP Tool - Create, review, and share DMPs that meet institutional and funder requirements. The DMP Tool Blog and Webinar Series provide helpful guidance.
  • STARS - UCF researchers are eligible to submit materials to STARS, a university-wide digital repository hosted on the Digital Commons platform (a comprehensive hosted solution for storing, managing, and sharing data). Click here to visit the researcher portion of the FAQs for STARS.
  • - The Registry of Research Data Repositories is a tool for helping identify and locate online repositories of research data. 

Regulations and Guidelines

As an administrator of U.S. government support, NIFA works in partnership with grantees to ensure responsible stewardship of federal funds. Our grantees and partners are required to comply with all relevant rules and regulations. The following resources are provided to NIFA’s partners and award recipient to support their adherence to federal regulations governing program performance.

Policy Guide - NIFA’s Federal Assistance Policy Guide describes agency policies and procedures.

Certifications and Representations - Certifications and representations provided through the NIFA application process.

Acknowledgment of USDA Support by NIFA - When acknowledging USDA support in accordance with 2 CFR Part 415, grantees must use the following acknowledgment for all projects or initiatives supported by NIFA.

Federal Regulations - The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) lists all regulations published in the Federal Register.

FOIA - The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has the right to request access to federal documents and information such as research data.

NEPA Policy and Guidance - The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Policy and Guidance set the standard for identifying potential environmental impacts.

OGFM Issued Correspondence - The Office of Grants and Financial Management occasionally issues correspondence to applicants, grantees, and/or the general public for informational or clarification purposes.

Indirect Costs - Indirect costs are those expenses that support the shared goals of the project and grantee. Refer to the process for establishment of Indirect Cost Rates for more information.

Research Misconduct - NIFA requires that all its awardees adhere to the USDA Scientific Integrity Policy and the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct.

Terms and Conditions - Award terms and conditions provide specific guidance on program performance. Refer to the award document, Form NIFA-2009, to determine the applicable terms and conditions document.

DRAFT YOUR PROPOSAL: Section Instructions and Templates

This guide is based on the USDA/NIFA Application Guide and provides quick-reference information to complete USDA/NIFA proposals (refer to the RFA for specific requirements. 

SF-424 Research and Related (R&R) Forms and Instructions

Additional NIFA-Specific and Cross-Agency Forms and Instructions

The OR Research Development Team can provide support with proposal coordination, templates, samples, supplemental documents, reviews, and more. Visit our website for more information.


USDA Point of Contact at UCF

This point of contact is very familiar with USDA  priorities/processes and can give helpful advice to increase the competitiveness of your proposal.

Swadeshmukul Santra, PhD
NanoScience Technology Center
Department of Chemistry
Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
University of Central Florida
(407) 882-2848

Additionally, information on Office of Research points of contact related to contracts, proposal submission, compliance, tech transfer, IRB, and IACUC is available at 

Support from UCF Librarians

Citation Management

Data Management Plans

Publishing & Author Rights

STARS - Data Hosting

Support across the Research Lifecycle

Literature Review (select by subject from the list below):

General Proposal Support from Research Development Team

Now that you have found the perfect funding opportunity, let us help you build the perfect proposal. The OR Research Development team can help with planning, preparation assistance, draft review feedback, informational resources, and more! Visit our website for next steps information.

Find Potential Collaborators

Find potential collaborators via the PIVOT Database - Run a search or View tutorials

Find scholarship resulting from USDA Awards with the Web of Science View tutorial or Search now

See awardees in the USDA Award Database - UCF-only or All awards

The OR Research Development Team would be happy to help search for potential collaborators at UCF. Visit our website for more information.