USDA NIFA Accepting Applications for RHSE Program

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is accepting applications for the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program with a maximum funding level of $350,000 per project. There is no matching requirement.  

What is the Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE) program? The RHSE program addresses the health and well-being of rural America through supporting the development and/or implementation of projects focused on:

(1) Individual and family health education programs with specified contents;

(2) Rural health leadership development education programs to assist rural communities in developing health care services and facilities and assist community leaders and public officials in understanding their roles and responsibilities; and

(3) Farm safety education programs to provide information and training to farm workers, timber harvesters, and farm families.

Who is eligible to apply? Applications may be submitted by 1862 and 1890 Land Grant colleges and universities that are eligible to receive funds under the Act of July 2, 1862 (7 U.S.C. 301 et seq.), and the Act of August 30, 1890 (7 U.S.C. 321 et seq.), including Central State University, Tuskegee University, West Virginia State University. Applications also may be submitted by any of the Tribal colleges and universities designated as 1994 Land Grant Institutions under the Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994, as amended.

What is the focus area for this round of applications? In FY 2020 and FY 2021, NIFA is soliciting applications for RHSE in the area of Individual and Family Health Education.

The RHSE program proposals in the individual and family health education area are expected to be health education projects that provide individuals and families living in rural areas with:

• Information as to the value of good health at any age;
• Information to increase individual or families’ motivation to take more responsibility for their own health, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;
• Information about and access to health promotion activities;
• Information to support the utilization of telehealth, telemedicine, and distance learning strategies for opioid education and training in minority rural communities.
• Training for volunteers and health services providers concerning health promotion and health care services for individuals and families in cooperation with state, local and community partners.

Proposals submitted to the RHSE program in FY 2020 and FY 2021 may focus on the prevention and/or reduction of opioid misuse and abuse per Congressional guidance for this program. Proposals may also focus on helping prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2 and in mitigating infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

What are eligible projects? In FY 2020 and FY 2021, the RHSE program will support:

a) Projects implementing new Extension programs or approaches in the area of individual and family health education focused on 1) the prevention and/or reduction of opioid/substance misuse and abuse, or 2) the prevention and or mitigation of infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2;

 b) Projects implementing new Extension programs or approaches that support the utilization of telehealth, telemedicine, and distance learning strategies for education and training in minority rural communities related to opioids or SARS-CoV-2; and

 c) Projects seeking to scale-up to State or multi-state levels already established programs or approaches with demonstrated evidence of impact in the area of individual and family health education focused on the prevention and/or reduction of opioid misuse and abuse. An applicant may form a multi-state partnership to support scaling-up a program or approach.

Are there any other project requirements for RSHE? The following describes the types of projects or grants that are eligible for funding:

  • Project Types. While projects are not limited to implementing Extension-created programs, they are required to be: a) research-informed, outcome-based programs and approaches, and
    b) use Cooperative Extension as the mode of program outreach and delivery.
  • Serving Rural Counties. RHSE projects must be implemented in federally classified rural counties. Applicants must identify rural counties in which their programs will be implemented.
  • Coordination of Programs. Per the authorizing legislation for the Rural Health and Safety Education Program described in Part I (A) of the RFA, projects are required to coordinate with State offices of rural health appropriate programs of the Department of Health and Human Services, such as SAMHSA State Opioid Response (SOR) and Tribal Opioid Response (TOR) providers or HRSA Federally Qualified Health Centers on proposed health education activities and rural population outreach. Projects focusing on SARS-CoV-2 must demonstrate how they will coordinate efforts with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Linking to National Health and Wellness Frameworks. Projects should identify an existing individual and community health framework/model as a guide for their programs’ health education focus and their Extension outreach strategy. The framework/model must recognize the complex, bidirectional relationship between individual, community, and societal factors.
  • Reporting on Performance. Projects are required to develop and report on performance indicators that demonstrate measurable changes in knowledge and attitudes of project participants. Projects seeking to also capture behavioral changes are highly encouraged. These indicators should demonstrate the project’s success at achieving objectives of the proposed project and overarching goal of the RHSE program. NIFA strongly encourages involving an evaluator on the proposed project to help develop outcome-based performance measures and a plan for evaluating the project’s performance.

What are NIFA’s project recommendations? As appropriate, applicable, and beneficial, NIFA strongly recommends the proposed Extension outreach health education projects include programs and approaches that:

  1. Collaborate across extension program areas (i.e. Family & Consumer Sciences, Agricultural and Natural Resources, 4-H/Youth Development, and Community Resource and Economic Development);
  2. Include content experts across academic and clinical domains to inform project development, implementation, and evaluation;
  3. In addition to the requirement to capture knowledge and behavioral change, where appropriate and relevant, design projects to include policy, systems, and environmental change strategies that can be reasonably implemented and assessed in the duration of the project;
  4. Implement adaptations to evidence-based programs sufficiently responsive to the unique stressors, resources, cultural traditions, family practices, and other prevailing sociocultural factors that influence the lives of the target audience and that also adhere to fit and fidelity;
  5. Promote principles of health equity and creating a culture of health in the project design within the spaces where projects are implemented;
  6. Integrate research-informed activities connected to arts, culture or humanities into proposed programs and approaches, where appropriate and relevant;
  7. Promote community empowerment as a tool for sustainability within the project design.
  8. Increase professionals’ capacity to engage in health leadership in rural communities, which includes using skills to collaborate, connect, communicate, and build community capacity to address rural health;
  9. Increase public access to new ideas and technologies related to either opioid/substance misuse and abuse prevention or prevention and mitigation of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in rural areas that have been successful or have likelihood of success at the community level; and
  10. Increase public health knowledge and engage the health system, leading to actions that promote or enhance rural health and well-being.
  11. Increase the utilization of telehealth, telemedicine, and distance learning strategies for education and training in minority rural communities focused on opioids or SARS-CoV-2.

Will there be priority consideration for specific applicants? Pursuant to Section 7214 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-79), NIFA will recognize and prioritize Center of Excellence (COE) applicants that carry out research, extension, and education activities that relate to the food and agricultural sciences. A COE is composed of one or more of the following entities that provide financial or in-kind support to the COE.

  1. State agricultural experiment stations;
  2. Colleges and universities;
  3. University research foundations;
  4. Other research institutions and organizations;
  5. Federal agencies;
  6. National laboratories;
  7. Private organizations, foundations, or corporations;
  8. Individuals; or
  9. Any group consisting of two or more of the entities described in (1) through (8).

What is the funding level and project duration of the grant? The maximum funding level is $350,000 per project. An anticipated 12-15 awards will be granted for this project. The project duration is 24 months; the project start date must be September 1, 2020 and the end date must be August 31, 2022.

Is there a cost-sharing/ match requirement? The RHSE has no matching requirement. NIFA will not factor matching resources into the review process as an evaluation criterion.

When are applications due? Applications must be submitted no later than July 1, 2020 at 5:00 pm Eastern.

The full Request for Applications (RFA) is available here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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