Apply for a Grant

Open Grant Programs

Each grant program has its own timeline. Check to see which programs are open at this time.

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Other Sources of Funding

Are you interested in applying for an NCR-SARE grant? If so, and if you live in one of the following states, this information is for you. The North Central Region consists of Illinois,  IndianaIowaKansasMichiganMinnesotaMissouriNebraskaNorth DakotaOhioSouth Dakota, and Wisconsin.

If you’re located elsewhere, follow these links for information on the Western Region SARESouthern Region SARE, or Northeast Region SARE.

Writing a Grant Proposal

  1. Determine which SARE grant program is right for you:
  2. Download a copy of the NCR-SARE call for proposals from the appropriate program. Follow the guidelines in the Call for Proposals. Calls change each year, sometimes slightly. Be sure you’re using the most current call. Sample calls are available if the current call for proposals isn’t available yet.
  3. Determine the relevant deadline for the grant program(s) from which you seek funding. Set reminders for yourself, if needed.
  4. Review previously funded SARE grants in your topic area.
  5. Develop clear goals.  Whether you are trying to solve an insect pest problem, conduct a marketing project, or do something no one’s even thought of yet, simple and clear goals let the NCR-SARE know WHAT your goal is. Then, as you write your proposal, you’ll indicate HOW you are going to reach your goal.
  6. Plan ahead on how to accomplish your project.  Think about the details before you fill out the proposal.  If you are doing a research project and choose to use an experimental design, make sure the design is capable of yielding conclusive results.  If you need help with research design, include a cooperator with experience in on-farm research. Search the national SARE database of projects to review previously funded grants in your topic area.
  7. Measure your results. Chances are you are going to measure something.  So, whether it is crop yield, milk protein content, bigger tomatoes, increased market share for a cooperative, etc. make sure that what you are measuring will give you the information you need to tell if you have accomplished your objectives.  If you’re planning to take samples—for example, plants, or insects—make sure that your samples are representative of the whole field or plot.
  8. Timing is everything.  Let the reviewers know WHEN you will be doing the things you plan to do. A detailed timetable lets them know that you have given this work some thought and that you have a clear idea of the time it will take.
  9. Develop a clear outreach plan to share what you learn from your project.  Outreach activities can include field days, workshops, publications, or any method to get results of your project to people who can use those results to practice sustainable agriculture.
  10. Develop a realistic budget.  Please carefully itemize your expenses on the budget worksheet and enter your sub-totals for funds requested.  Do this for each year funds are requested. Round the cents to the nearest dollar.
  11. Contact potential collaborators and develop proposal ideas. Choose cooperators to complement your skills. When you enlist the cooperation of people who have expertise in areas that you don’t—research, marketing, outreach, whatever—they’ll help you make your project better and increase your chances of receiving funding. Pick your cooperators carefully, and make sure each one has the skills you need.
  12. Get help with proposal writing, if necessary. Your national SARE database can provide advice and feedback as you work on your grant proposal. View the USDA Budget Guidelines to help you correctly compose your budget. The NCR-SARE office can answer questions and provide samples of proposals. The Michael Fields Ag Institute can help you apply to grants and cost-share programs of state or federal sources that could help you achieve your farming or ag-related business goals. 
  13. Submit your proposal, following all guidelines, prior to the specified deadline. Our timelines are detailed below. They are subject to change. Always adhere to the due date listed in the current Call for Proposals.
  14. Your proposal will be reviewed and considered by a grant review committee and our Administrative Council and you will be notified as soon as possible. 

Grant Writing Resources

NCR-SARE State Coordinators

  • SARE state coordinators in every state and island protectorate are charged with training agriculture professionals in sustainable practices and sharing SARE project results with them. State coordinator responsibilities include professional development—promotion, networking, and coordination, especially of SARE-related activities—and communication and evaluation.

Put Your Ideas to the Test: How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or Ranch

  • This 12-page bulletin outlines how to conduct research on a farm or ranch. It describes real-life examples and gives practical tips for both crop and livestock producers. A comprehensive list of more in-depth resources describes on-farm research bulletins and reports, farmer or researcher networks, and resources for market research.

Grant Writing Assistance from the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute 

  • Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) provides free Grants Advising services in the Midwest. MFAI’s Grants Advisors can help you apply to grant, loan, and cost-share programs of state or federal sources that could help you with specific projects to develop your agricultural, forestry, or related business. These can be programs of any federal or state agency, not just the USDA, as well as private sources. They assist individual producers, associations of farmers, and agricultural, fishery, and forestry-related businesses to both search for and apply to programs for which they are eligible. Please contact Grants Advisor, Martin Bailkey, 608-698-9478, or martinbailkey@gmail.com. While their services are open to all farmers, farmer groups, and agricultural entrepreneurs, special attention is given as follows:
    • In Wisconsin: All new or existing producers and agriculture-related businesses, as well as those working with them.  Agriculture includes forestry and fisheries.   
    • In the Midwest: Beginning farmers, limited resource farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and/or military veterans, as well as young organizations working with these farmers

Funding Considerations

The focus for each of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education. Funding considerations are based on how well the applicant presents the problem being addressed, the project’s relevance to sustainable agriculture in the 12-state North Central region, and how well it aligns with NCR-SARE’s goals, among other factors specific to each grant program.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. The AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, federal agencies, and nonprofits.


Timelines

Timelines are subject to change. Always adhere to the due date listed in the current Call for Proposals. 

Farmer Rancher

  • Mid-August – Call for Proposals Released
  • Early December – Proposals Due
  • February – Funding Decisions
  • Spring – Funds Available to Recipients

Graduate Student

  • February – Call for Proposals Released
  • April – Proposals Due Late
  • July – Funding Decisions
  • September – Funds Available to Recipients

Research and Education

  • August – Call for Preproposals Released
  • October- Preproposals Due Late
  • January – Full Proposals Invited
  • April – Full Proposals Due Late
  • July – Funding Decisions
  • Fall – Funds Available to Recipient

Professional Development Program

  • February – Call for Proposals Released
  • Early April – Proposals Due
  • August – Funding Decisions
  • October – Funds Available to Recipient

Youth Educator

  • Mid-August: Call for Proposals Released
  • Mid-November: Proposals Due
  • February: Funding Decisions
  • Spring: Funds Available to Recipients

Partnership

  • Early August: Call for Proposals Released
  • Late October: Proposals Due
  • February: Funding Decisions
  • March: Funds Available to Recipients

Sample Calls for Proposals

These are previous year’s calls for proposals and are intended for informational purposes only.  You must follow instructions in the current year’s call for proposals. The format specified in the call for proposals and forms is a little different each year.

  • Read a sample Farmer Rancher Program Call for Proposals here.
  • Read a sample Research and Education Program Call for Preproposals here.
  • Read a sample Professional Development Program Call for Proposals here.
  • Read a sample Graduate Student Program Call for Proposals here.
  • Read a sample Youth Educator Program Call for Proposals here.
  • Read a sample Partnership Call for Proposals here

Recent Grant Projects

Click on the links below to access lists of funded project information. You can also view lists of projects that have been funded in your state.

Professional Development
List of 2019 Professional Development Program Projects
Research and Education
List of 2019 Research and Education Projects
Youth Educator
List of 2020 Youth Educator Projects
Graduate Student List of 2019 Graduate Student Projects
Farmer Rancher
List of 2020 Farmer Rancher Projects
Partnership
List of 2020 Partnership Projects