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Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Program (WAMS)


Additional Links

Notice of Funding Opportunity (


Application Deadline: Jan 21, 2021

Sponsoring Organization

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)


Awards funding to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas participating in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Supports research, education, and extension projects that target K-12 students as well as students in two-year post-secondary programs, such as vocational/technical institutions or community/junior colleges. Helps prepare students to enter STEM fields in higher education with the goal of developing a qualified workforce in food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences areas. Prioritizes research and extension initiatives focused on new and emerging employment opportunities in STEM and that strengthen rural economies.

Additional information on program priorities, need areas, applied projects, and expected outcomes can be found in the program guidance.

Under this opportunity, rural areas are defined as any locality that has a population of 50,000 inhabitants or less and is generally characterized as having fewer that 1,000 inhabitants per square mile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Applicants are encouraged to develop projects with content suitable for delivery through eXtension, a resource sharing website for the U.S. Cooperative Extension (CE) System.

Amount of Funding

Award ceiling: $100,000 
Project period: 24 - 36 months
Estimated number of awards: 4
Estimated total program funding: $384,000

Matching funds are required for grants that provide a particular benefit to a specific agricultural commodity. In these cases, grant recipients must match the grant award dollar-for-dollar with cash or in-kind contributions from non-federal sources.

More information about cost matching and conditions under which the matching requirement may be waived are available in the program guidance.

Who Can Apply

Applications may be submitted by:

  • State agricultural experiment stations
  • Colleges and universities
  • University research foundations
  • Other research institutions and organizations
  • Federal agencies
  • National laboratories
  • Private organizations or corporations
  • Individuals

Geographic Coverage


What This Program Funds

New Program • Operating Costs and Staffing

Application Process

Application instructions, requirements, and other information is available in the funding announcement.

Applicant webinar recording
Application tips
Applicant frequently asked questions


For programmatic or technical questions:
Carlos Ortiz, PhD

Rural Awards

Examples of past awards communities have received are described on the program website.

Rural communities who have received funding include:

  • Oregon State University in Corvallis was awarded a grant in 2021 to serve underrepresented students from 10 rural Oregon high schools through SMILE clubs, a school-university partnership STEM program. Students will be paired with undergraduate mentors from OSU to carry out projects on current food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences (FANH) topics and explore careers in STEM and FANH fields.
  • The University of Maine in Orono received a 2020 WAMS grant to engage female high school students from Maine rural forest communities in SELF: Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future. The program offers participants the opportunity to work closely with female undergraduates and faculty from STEM programs at UMaine, while participating in sustainable Forest Bioproducts (FBP) research, Rural Health, Remote Sensing, and Artificial Intelligence initiatives at the university.
  • Louisiana Tech University in Ruston received a grant in 2019 to enroll women and minority high school students from rural northern Louisiana school districts in a project-based college class, titled Agricultural Wastes to Products, which allows them to research ways to convert agricultural waste materials into new bioproducts.
  • The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis was awarded a grant in 2019 to implement the La Mesa: From the Town to the Table program, which is a three-year STEM recruitment and retention program for women and minority students in rural northwest Minnesota in grades 10 through 12. The program exposes students to work and research in STEM fields and fosters mentoring relationships with college students and researchers in STEM.

Topics This Program Addresses

Education and Training • Women • Youth