Professional Development Grant Program Overview

The Northeast SARE Professional Development Grant Program funds train-the-trainer projects that develop the knowledge, awareness, skills and attitudes among the full range of service providers who work with farmers, including agricultural professionals who teach, advise and assist farmers about sustainable agriculture practices and strategies as well as non-agricultural service providers (e.g., real estate agents, bankers, or attorneys) that work with farmers. These service providers then use the knowledge, awareness, skills and attitudes they gain in their work with farmers.

Outcome Funding

Professional Development Grant projects use an outcome funding approach that directly connects project activities to measurable goals. Central to this approach for Northeast SARE grants is the performance target, a statement that describes the changes in behavior or conditions among project beneficiaries (in this case, service providers) that are expected as a result from the proposed project. To learn more about outcome funding, see our Guide to Outcome Funding resources.

Preproposals Required

Preproposals are required for Professional Development grants, as well as for Northeast SARE’s two other larger grant programs: Research and Education and Research for Novel Approaches. An individual project leader may submit no more than two preproposals per grant program per year.

The preproposal is a preliminary concept document that allows SARE reviewers to select the most promising projects to be invited to submit full proposals. Proposals are only invited if they have strong, data-based justification, a clear and measurable performance target, and effective approaches to achieving the target. Projects must seek wider adoption of sustainable practices through education. Practices may be related to production, marketing, finances, or social/quality of life issues.

In previous years, about one-third of preproposals have been invited to submit full proposals, and about one-third of full proposal submissions have been awarded. Three to six awards are made each year, depending on available funding.

Eligible Applicants

Professional Development Grants are open to personnel at colleges and universities, Cooperative Extension, agricultural and community nonprofit organizations, municipalities, state departments of agriculture, federal agencies like NRCS, for-profit entities (such as private consultants, veterinary practices and other businesses that serve the farming community), and others who work with service providers. Northeast SARE encourages projects submitted from or in collaboration with Minority Serving Institutions (including 1890s and other historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and tribal colleges and universities) and other organizations in the Northeast region that work with socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Projects are invited to include funding to specifically address or assess social dimensions of the proposed work. Applicant organizations must have the legal structure and financial capacity in place to receive and execute a Northeast SARE contract, including expending funds needed for the project prior to receiving reimbursements from Northeast SARE; advance payments are not possible.

Funding Available

Reviewers prefer projects in the $30,000 to $150,000 range. Funding requests should align with project duration, scope of the work, and intensity of interaction with beneficiaries. Amounts higher than the typical range will be considered for projects that include multi-disciplinary or multi-institutional education networks, especially when those networks enable a more comprehensive systems approach to addressing challenges or opportunities.

Project Duration

Typical project length is 2 to 3 years. The maximum project length allowed is 3.5 years.