Professional Development Grant Program

The Northeast SARE Professional Development Grant program funds projects that develop the knowledge, awareness, skills and attitudes of agricultural and other service providers about sustainable agriculture practices to teach, advise or assist farmers. An agricultural service provider is a professional who assists farmers. Projects that develop the ability of other service providers (for example, real estate agents, bankers, and attorneys) to work with farmers are also eligible. These service providers then use what they’ve learned through participation in project activities in their work with farmers.

A wide variety of topics can be funded by Northeast SARE, including marketing and business, crop production, raising livestock, aquaculture, social sustainability, urban and Indigenous agriculture and much more. Other aspects of projects funded through the Northeast SARE program include those that address climate-smart agriculture practices intended to improve ecological, social, and economic resilience to climate change; increase carbon sequestration; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate-smart practices include reduced and no-till, cover crops, prescribed grazing, ruminant feed management, manure management, fertilizer management, and on-farm energy efficiency. In addition, projects may address traditional ecological knowledge.

Outcome Funding

This grant program uses an outcome funding approach that directly connects project activities to measurable goals. If you are not familiar with how outcome funding works, we urge you to read Northeast SARE's Guide to Outcome Funding.

Central to this approach 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.

Preproposals Required

Preproposals are required for the Professional Development Grant Program. The preproposal is a preliminary concept document that allows SARE reviewers to select which projects to invite to submit full proposals. Proposals are only invited if they have strong, data-based justification, a clear and measurable performance target, and effective educational approaches.

Only invited preproposal applicants are eligible to submit a full proposal.

Grant Timeline

Preproposals for this grant program are typically due in mid-summer and invited full proposals are usually due in the fall. To find out when this program next opens for applications, sign up for our newsletters.

Eligible Applicants

Professional Development Grants are open to anyone who works with service providers and farmers, including personnel at nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, Cooperative Extension, municipalities, tribal governments, state departments of agriculture, federal agencies, research farms and experiment stations, and for-profit business entities (such as farms, private consultants, veterinary practices and other businesses that serve the farming community).

Northeast SARE encourages projects submitted from or in collaboration with women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Additionally, we encourage 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 that work with historically underserved communities.  

Your organization must have the legal structure and financial capacity to receive and implement a Northeast SARE contract, including expending funds needed for the project prior to receiving reimbursements from Northeast SARE; advance payments are not possible.  

Projects must take place within the Northeast region. Applicants and host organizations may be located outside of the Northeast region if the project activities and the farmers served are located within the Northeast region.   

Funding Available

Awards typically range from $30,000 to $150,000. 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 based on project complexity and duration.

Project Duration

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


Please contact Professional Development Program coordinator Katie Campbell-Nelson with your questions.