How SARE Works
Competitive research grants are the primary tools of the SARE program. The overall objective of SARE is to position agricultural communities so the most sustainable approaches available permeate U.S. agriculture. The result is food, fiber and animal products are sustainably produced in healthy communities in an environment where farmers are respected, rewarded and encouraged to innovate.
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grants and outreach program. SARE is divided into four regions with the Southern SARE program operating under the cooperative agreements of University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Southern SARE supports sustainable agriculture efforts in 13 states and two U.S. territories.
Southern SARE funds several different competitive grant programs, and each type of grant benefits a specific target audience. Each year, Southern SARE invites applicants to submit proposals for the various offered grant opportunities. SARE grants are open to farmers/ranchers, researchers, educators, graduate students, government agencies, community groups, non-profit organizations, NGOs, and agribusinesses.
The following provides some basic information of the process behind the release of our grant Calls for Proposals, and how the grants are reviewed and awarded. You can find more detailed information about how our grant program works for each grant type in our How It Works publication.
Applying for a sare grant
The process for applying for a SARE grant always begins with the release of Calls for Proposals (CFP). Call for Proposal is the same as Request for Application (RFA) or Request for Proposal (RFP). Each grant type has its own release schedule throughout the year.
Once the Call for Proposal is released, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to download and read through the Call before applying for a grant. All the rules and guidelines required to complete the application process and successfully submit your project can be found in the Call for Proposals.
Applications for our grant programs are submitted through an online proposal system. You do not submit SARE grants through grants.gov. SARE’s Grant Management System helps simplify the application process, especially for those who are submitting a grant for the first time, or are not familiar with the process of applying for a government grant. The directions for submitting a grant through the SARE Grant Management System are found within the Call for Proposal.
Once the deadline to submit a grant expires, submitted proposals are reviewed by a suite of regional committees. Those who sit on the committees make up a cross-section of the agricultural community and are considered experts in the fields of the proposal topics that they have been assigned. Reviewers follow a set of sustainable agriculture criteria to determine whether a proposal is fundable or not fundable. The proposals are scored accordingly and then sent to the Administrative Council (Southern SARE’s governing body) for discussion and selection. The Administrative Council entertains grant proposals for funding twice a year: During the Winter Administrative Council meeting and during the Summer Administrative Council meeting.
Once grant proposals are selected for funding, grant applicants are notified of their award status via email. If your proposal was not selected for funding, you are encouraged to review the comments provided by the reviewers to strengthen your proposal in the event you wish to reapply. If your proposal was selected for funding, you will receive details regarding managing your grant and reporting requirements.
Applicants can apply for multiple types of grants in any given year and you may reapply as often as you like. Those who have previously received a SARE grant are invited to consider SARE as a funding source.
Southern SARE’s grant programs can be divided into two broad categories. The “big grant” programs (Research & Education Grants and Professional Development Program Grants) require a two-step application process due to the complicated nature of the project activities. Pre-proposals are evaluated for suitability to SARE’s funding guidelines. Applicants with the highest ranked pre-proposals are invited to submit a more detailed full proposal.
The small grants (Graduate Student, On-Farm Research and Producer) are awarded through a single proposal process.
Which Grant is Right for You?
On-Farm Research Grants
On-Farm Research Grants provide opportunities for agriculture professionals working directly with farmers and ranchers on sustainable agriculture efforts.
Graduate Student Grants
Graduate Student Grants are for Masters and PhD students enrolled in a graduate program at an accredited institution who want to research sustainable agriculture.
Research and Education Grants
Research and Education Grants encourage a systems approach to sustainable agriculture. They are mainly designed for teams of interdisciplinary researchers.
Education Grants allow applicants to conduct education and outreach activities for the benefit of the greater sustainable ag community, and promote efforts in farmer innovations, community resilience, business success, ag diversification, and best management practices.
Professional Development Program Grants
Professional Development Program Grants further education and outreach strategies for professionals and educators who work directly with farmers and ranchers.
Producer Grants enable farmers and ranchers to test a sustainable agriculture idea using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique.