Barry University Receives $4.5 Million Grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture for Barry University CRAFT Scholars Program

Press Release

Jul 05, 2023

(Miami, FL, June 27, 2023) – Barry University is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded a $4.5 million grant by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the establishment of the Barry University CRAFT Scholars program. CRAFT Scholars, which stands for Cultivating Resilience through Agriculture and Food Training, is a transformative initiative aimed at attracting, retaining, and training a diverse group of undergraduate students who will be well-prepared to enter the USDA workforce.

NIFA’s Program “From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals Program” (NextGen) seeks partnerships with institutions that serve diverse student populations. “The vision we have at NIFA is to feed and nourish all Americans and create economic opportunity for more American families. Equity and diversity are the two central elements in this vision. One goal of the NextGen program is to identify, inspire and prepare our youth, particularly in underrepresented communities, to be the next generation of hunger fighters and agricultural problem solvers. This is the right thing to do and the right time,” said NIFA Director Dr. Manjit Misra. In response to this call, Barry University, a Hispanic-serving institution, is joining forces with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), a renowned land-grant institution that offers degrees in agricultural and life sciences and with Urban GreenWorks (UGW), a Miami-based nonprofit focused on food systems solutions to human and community health, to create new partnerships, internships and experiences for Barry students.

The $4.5 million grant will enable Barry University to develop a comprehensive program that combines academic coursework, hands-on experiences, study abroad, and research opportunities. CRAFT Scholars will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge research initiatives at both Barry University and UF/IFAS, and modern local urban farm sites through UGW, providing them with a well-rounded education in agriculture and food-related disciplines.

"We are honored to receive this significant grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture," said Dr. Mike Allen, President of Barry University. "The Barry University CRAFT Scholars program will play a vital role in cultivating a diverse and skilled workforce that can address the complex challenges in the agricultural sector."

More than $2 million of this funding is set aside for direct student support in the form of full scholarships and funding for experiential learning opportunities. By fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing between Barry University, UF/IFAS and UGW, CRAFT Scholars will gain valuable insights into the latest advancements in agricultural research, sustainable farming practices, and food systems management. The program will equip students with the skills, knowledge, and hands-on experience necessary to excel in careers within the USDA and related fields. Scholarships will be awarded to students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Sociology, Criminology, or Math and Computer Science with Data Analytics specialization and who are interested in learning more about agricultural sciences and their application to community and planetary health. Most grant-sponsored experiential learning activities will be open to all Barry students.

"CRAFT Scholars is the latest success in the College of Arts & Sciences’ ongoing initiative seeking federal funding to actively recruit students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds and to provide them with financial and academic support, mentorship, experiential learning and networking opportunities, “said Dr. Karen Callaghan, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Students from historically marginalized backgrounds bring unique strengths and assets with them to Barry’s classrooms. They are community-minded and experienced at overcoming challenges. This makes them valuable members of the Barry student body. By equipping and empowering a diverse group of students, we address the critical need for greater inclusivity and representation within our nation’s workforce.

The funding also provides five graduate fellowships for Barry students to enroll in Master’s programs at UF/IFAS. “At present, the pathways and networks that facilitate enrollment in agricultural degrees for students at primarily undergraduate, urban institutions like Barry are limited. With funds from this initiative and together with our partners, we aim to change that”, says Dr. Leticia Vega, chair of the Biology Department. Dr. Vega will lead this project, along with three Biology faculty: Dr. Silvia Macia, Dr. Christoph Hengartner and Dr. Michal Robinson. The leadership team also includes Dr. Rosalie Koenig and Dr. Jorge Ruiz-Menjivar from the University of Florida, Mr. Roger Horne, President of Urban GreenWorks, and Dr. Tamara Hamilton, Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences.

About Barry University

As South Florida’s largest private Catholic institution of higher learning and as one of the leading universities in the nation for promoting social mobility, Barry University is preparing students for the future workforce by offering them more than 100 degree programs in a variety of disciplines and giving them the tools and real-world experience that transform concepts into impact. Barry's programs center on experiential and service learning, responding to market conditions and addressing critical societal needs. Barry graduates are socially conscious leaders in many industries and in their communities. Learn more at 

Media contact:

Jennifer Boyd-Pugh
Barry University
Vice President for University Administration | 305-899-4057

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