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Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields

WAMS; Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields STEM program
Number: 10.318
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Program Information 

Program Number/Title (010):
10.318 Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields
Federal Agency (030):
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Department of Agriculture
Authorization (040):
Section 7204 of the Food Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA) (Public Law 110-246) amends section 1672 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 (FACT) (7 U.S.C. 5925) to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to make competitive grants to support research and extension activities. The Secretary shall make these grants in consultation with the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education, and Economics Advisory Board.
Objectives (050):
The Women and Minorities (WAMS) in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fields program was authorized to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with priority given to eligible institutions that carry out continuing programs funded by the Secretary. The goal of the WAMS program is to develop and implement robust partnerships to increase the representation, participation, and entrepreneurism of women in STEM careers, thereby contributing to national economic prosperity. The purpose of the grant program is to support projects that: Provide STEM knowledge, skills and competency to Women and Minorities from Rural Areas with successful placement (a) in the workforce in STEM fields, or (b) as innovators and entrepreneurs adding value to the STEM fields in areas that have relevancy to the USDA Secretary’s priorities.
Types of Assistance (060):
Project Grants
Uses and Use Restrictions (070):
Grant funds must be used for allowable costs necessary to conduct approved fundamental and applied research and extension grants to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with priority given to eligible institutions that carry out continuing programs funded by the Secretary. Program funds may only be used for research and extension activities in the training, outreach and mentoring of rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in STEM fields relevant to USDA mission.

Funds may not be used for any purposes other than those approved in the grant award documents.

Funds made available for grants in this program shall not be used for scholarship or fellowship purposes, the construction of a new building or facility or the acquisition, expansion, remodeling, or alteration of an existing building or facility (including site grading and improvement, and architect fees).

Section 720 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55) limits indirect costs to 30 percent of the total Federal funds provided under each award. Therefore, when preparing budgets, applicants should limit their requests for recovery of indirect costs to the lesser of their institution’s official negotiated indirect cost rate or the equivalent of 30 percent of total Federal funds awarded.

Special Note on Indirect Costs as in-kind matching contributions:
Indirect costs may be claimed under the Federal portion of the award budget or, alternatively, indirect costs may be claimed as a matching contribution (if no indirect costs are requested under the Federal portion of the award budget). However, unless explicitly authorized in the RFA, indirect costs may not be claimed on both the Federal portion of the award budget and as a matching contribution, unless the total claimed on both the Federal portion of the award budget and as a matching contribution does not exceed the maximum allowed indirect costs or the institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate, whichever is less. An awardee may split the allocation between the Federal and non-Federal portions of the budget only if the total amount of indirect costs charged to the project does not exceed the maximum allowed indirect costs or the institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate, whichever is less. For example, if an awardees' indirect costs are capped at 30 percent pursuant to FY 2012 appropriated funds, Section 720 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division A of Pub. L. 112-55), the awardee may request 15 percent of the indirect costs on both the Federal portion of the award and as a matching contribution. Or, the awardee may request any similar percentage that, when combined, does not exceed the maximum indirect cost rate of 30 percent. Fully discretionary.
Eligibility Requirements (080)
Applicant Eligibility (081):
State agricultural experiment stations; colleges and universities; university research foundations; other research institutions and organizations; Federal agencies; national laboratories; private organizations or corporations; individuals; or any group consisting of 2 or more of these entities.
Beneficiary Eligibility (082):
State agricultural experiment stations; colleges and universities; university research foundations; other research institutions and organizations; Federal agencies; national laboratories; private organizations or corporations; individuals; or any group consisting of 2 or more of these entities.
Credentials/Documentation (083):
No Credentials or documentation are required. OMB Circular No. A-87 applies to this program.
Application and Award Process (090)
Preapplication Coordination (091):
Preapplication coordination is not applicable. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedures (092):
OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program. All RFAs are published on the Agency’s website and Grants.gov. Applicants must complete the Grants.gov registration process. Please see the following Grants.gov link for more information: http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp.

Applications should be submitted as outlined in the RFA. Applications must follow the instructions provided per Grants.Gov and in the Agency guide to submitting applications via Grants.gov.
Award Procedure (093):
Applications are subjected to a system of peer and merit review in accordance with section 103 of the Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Reform Act of 1998 (7 U.S.C. 1613) by a panel of qualified scientists and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, the NIFA Authorized Departmental Officer (ADO) shall make grants to those responsible, eligible applicants whose applications are judged most meritorious under the procedures set forth in the RFA.

Reviewers will be selected based upon training and experience in relevant scientific, extension, or education fields.

Evaluation Criteria will be delineated in the RFA.
Deadlines (094):
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Range of Approval/Disapproval Time (095):
From 30 to 180 days.

Dates for specific deadlines are announced in the RFA each fiscal year.

Information is also available via our website and may be obtained via the Grants.gov website. Respective links are provided below:
http://www.nifa.usda.gov/
http://www.grants.gov.
Appeals (096):
Not Applicable.
Renewals (097):
Specific details are provided in the Request for Applications (RFA) each fiscal year.
Assistance Consideration (100)
Formula and Matching Requirements (101):
This program has no statutory formula.
Matching Requirements: Percent: 100.%. Grant recipients are required to match the USDA funds awarded on dollar-for-dollar basis from non-Federal sources with cash and in-kind contributions.

NIFA may waive the matching funds requirement for a grant if NIFA determines that:

(a) the results of the project, while of particular benefit to a specific agricultural commodity, are likely to be applicable to agricultural commodities generally; or

(b) the project involves a minor commodity, the project deals with scientifically important research, and the grant recipient is unable to satisfy the matching funds requirement.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance (102):
The term of competitive project grants under this program may not exceed 5 years. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: by letter of credit.
Post Assistance Requirements (110)
Reports (111):
Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions. NIFA uses the SF-425, Federal financial Report to monitor cash. Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions. A final “Federal Financial Report” (SF-425) is due within 90 days of the expiration date of the grant and should be submitted to the address listed below, in accordance with instructions contained in 2 CFR 3430.55 (also refer to Section 3015.82 of the Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations).

Awards Management Division (AMD)
Office of Grants and Financial Management (OGFM)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
STOP 2271
400 Independence Avenue, SW.
Washington, DC 20250-2271
Telephone: (202) 401-4986. Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions.
Audits (112):
In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133. This program is also subject to audit by the cognizant Federal audit agency and the USDA Office of Inspector General.
Records (113):
In accordance with the Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-profit Organizations [2 CFR 215, Subpart C, Section 215.53, (OMB Circular A-110)] grantees shall maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for authorized purposes. Grant-related records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and must be retained at least three (3) years. Records must be retained beyond the three-year period if litigation is pending or audit findings have not been resolved.
Financial Information (120)
Obligations (122):
(Cooperative Agreements (Discretionary Grants)) FY 13 $354,086; FY 14 est $383,550; and FY 15 est $0 - The difference between the appropriation and obligation numbers reflects legislative authorized set-asides deducted as appropriate, and in some cases the availability of obligational authority from prior years.

FY 2013 estimated amounts include dollar reductions calculated pursuant to the budget sequestration order issued March 1, 2013.

For FY 2014, the Women and Minorities in STEM Fields was retained under NIFA's Extension Account.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance (123):
If minimum or maximum amounts of funding per competitive project grant are established, these will be announced in the annual program announcement or Request for Application (RFA).
Program Accomplishments (130):
Fiscal Year 2013: For the FY 2013 award cycle, $353,074 was available for project grant awards after subtracting administrative costs.

The WAMS Grant Program provides funding that may be used for research and extension activities in the training, outreach and mentoring of women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in STEM fields relevant to USDA mission. It is an expectation that investment of public funds through the WAMS Grant Program will lead to:
• gains in STEM knowledge, skills and capabilities, as well as new participants in USDA science mission through outreach activities, new careers or entrepreneurial enterprise;
• increased documentation of outputs, significant activities, including dissemination activities, events, services or products that contribute toward achieving the goals and objectives of WAMS;
• increased change in knowledge, actions or conditions; and,
• Increased capacity for carrying out the USDA mission by rural women and underrepresented minorities.
Eleven (11) out of twenty-four (24) applications submitted met the WAMS RFA requirements satisfactorily to be panel reviewed. The total amount requested was $2,149,234.00. Based on the availability of funding, only the top two applications were funded.

The SELF (Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future) Summer Institute was a great success and is planned to resume in Summer 2015. The 10 female high school sophomores from predominantly rural Maine attended the 3-day experience with the following highlights: successful recruitment, retention and ongoing relationships and contact with this group into the next school year; students broadened understanding of engineering and forest bio-product research as possible education and career paths; a 3-day experience would turn into a week-long experience strengthening connections with each other and with the counselors; student presentations demonstrated synthesis of key program concepts and applied research experience during the SELF Summer Institute. Conclusions: SELF program demonstrated early success in recruiting girls form rural areas and increasing their self-reported interest in STEM education and careers. SELF program increased student understanding of the elements in the applied research and its relationship to solving real-world problems. Further, this program demonstrated early success in increasing student understanding of the forest as a source for research and development of new products. And, the parent’s comments were very complimentary about this program for their daughters. Fiscal Year 2014: In FY 2014 award cycle, $383,550.00 was available for project awards. Three projects are on the process to be awarded. Fiscal Year 2015: There are no funds available for this program on 2015 budget proposal for NIFA. Pertinent data will be provided by Program at a future date.
Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature (140):
7 CFR Part 3430, Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-formula Federal Assistance Programs – General Award Administrative Provisions and Program-Specific Administrative Provisions; 7 CFR Part 3015, USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations; 7 CFR Part 3017, Government wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) ; 7 CFR Part 3018, New Restrictions on Lobbying; 7 CFR Part 3019, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-profit Organizations; and 7 CFR Part 3021— USDA implementation of Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-free Workplace (Financial Assistance).
Information Contacts (150)
Regional or Local Office (151) :
None.
Headquarters Office (152):
USDA, NIFA, National Program Leader, Institute of Youth, Family, and Community, Division of Community and Education, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 2250, Washington , District of Columbia 20024-2250 Phone: (202) 720-2324 Fax: (202) 720-2030.
Website Address (153):
http://www.nifa.usda.gov/
Examples of Funded Projects (170):
Fiscal Year 2013: The purpose of this project is to engage, mentor and prepare female high school students from rural communities in cutting-edge Forest BioProducts (FBP) research programs at the University of Maine UMaine). This project will pair each high school sophomore participant in a mentorship relationship with a female undergraduate enrolled in a STEM degree program at UMaine. Starting in their sophomore year, high school students from active 4-H programs in rural Maine Counties will create their own research projects in sustainable Forest Management and the highly interdisciplinary and emerging field of Forest BioProducts. The sophomores will attend an intensive 3 ½ day SELF institute at UMaine in the Spring, followed by regular meetings during each semester—in the field with their 4-H leaders, at UMaine, or connecting with their undergrad mentors online. Fiscal Year 2014: For FY 2014:
Potentially three (3) awards will be made, total amount is $383,550. Fiscal Year 2015: There are no funds available for this program on 2015 budget proposal for NIFA.. Pertinent details will be provided by Program at a future date.
Criteria for Selecting Proposals (180):
Within guidelines established for the program as described in the Request for Application (RFA).