Apply for a Grant

Are you interested in applying for an NCR-SARE grant? If so, and if you live in our region, this information is for you.

The North Central Region consists of IllinoisIndianaIowaKansasMichiganMinnesotaMissouriNebraskaNorth 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. View the grants funded in the last grant cycle.
  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. 
  15. Check out our FAQs.

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 719-318-7936 or [email protected]

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.

Grant Program Timelines

Farmer Rancher

August - Call for Proposals Released
December - Proposals Due
February - Funding Decisions
April-May - Funds Available to Recipients

Graduate Student

February - Call for Proposals Released
April - Proposals Due
July - Funding Decisions
September - Funds Available to Recipients

Research and Education

August - Call for Preproposals Released
October- Preproposals Due
January - Full Proposals Invited
March - Full Proposals Due
July - Funding Decisions
November - Funds Available to Recipients

Professional Development Program

February - Call for Proposals Released
April - Proposals Due
July - Funding Decisions
October - Funds Available to Recipients

Youth Educator

August - Call for Proposals Released
November - Proposals Due
February - Funding Decisions
March - Funds Available to Recipients


August - Call for Proposals Released
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 2023 Professional Development Program Projects
Research and Education
List of 2023 Research and Education Projects
Youth Educator
List of 2023 Youth Educator Projects
Graduate Student
List of 2023 Graduate Student Projects
Farmer Rancher
List of 2023 Farmer Rancher Projects
List of 2024 Partnership Projects

Publishing With SARE

Do you or a colleague have a book manuscript on sustainable agriculture, but no publisher? Do you have an idea for a video on a particular sustainable ag topic—or perhaps for ag communications research—that would serve farmers, ranchers and educators well? SARE Outreach wants to hear your ideas. If your idea meets the criteria below, use the educational resource and outreach initiative nomination form to submit it for consideration.

Free Materials for Educators and Nonprofits Working with Producers

SARE books, bulletins and promotional materials are available at no cost to nonprofit organizations organizing workshops, conferences, tours, networks or other sustainable agriculture educational programs for 10 or more farmers, ranchers or agricultural educators. A limit of 50 free books per organization per calendar year applies. Request materials using the online SARE Materials Request Form.

Frequently Asked Questions from Applicants

Can SARE grants be used to fund projects outside the United States?

No. SARE grants may only be used to fund projects within the United States and its island protectorates.

Can I use a SARE grant to begin a farm?

No. SARE grants are intended for projects involving research and education. A small percentage of SARE funding may be used to purchase the materials required to conduct a research or education project, but generally, SARE funding cannot be used to make large purchases for land, equipment, or capital investment.

Refer to the book Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities to learn about other funding opportunities.

I have an idea for a grant project. How do I learn more about SARE grants?

Visit the Apply for a Grant page to see what types of grants NCR-SARE offers and what type might be most appropriate for you. If you have in-depth questions about NCR-SARE’s grants, please contact NCR-SARE.

How can I learn more about the educational resources available through SARE?

All educational resources are available through the SARE Learning Center and are organized by resource type and topic. Resources are also accessible via site search, located in the upper right of this page.

In addition, visit the projects database and search through the thousands of project reports that SARE grantees have submitted over the years.

Where can I get more information about ordering publications, such as bulk discounts?

Please visit the SARE WebStore.

I received a grant from NCR-SARE. Where can I get more information about the requirements for my grant?

If you are a grantee or a member of a project team, you can use the Manage Your Grant page to learn how to manage your NCR-SARE award.