Grow Rural Education Frequently Asked Questions

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What is America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education?
America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund and helps farmers positively impact their communities by supporting local school districts. Specifically, the program gives farmers the opportunity to nominate a rural public school district in their community to compete for a merit-based grant of either $10,000 or $25,000 to enhance education in the areas of math and/or science. For 2017, the program is available in 1,331 counties in 41 states.

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Why is the Monsanto Fund sponsoring this program? 
We believe in rural America and are committed to helping farmers strengthen their communities. We understand that education is the cornerstone of any successful community. Most importantly, farmers have told us they believe providing top-quality education to students in their local communities is absolutely vital. This program gives us all the opportunity to help improve education in rural America, thereby keeping rural schools growing.

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How long has this program been running?
This is the fifth annual America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, after a successful national launch in 2012. In 2016, farmers across 1,326 counties demonstrated their support for education by nominating rural school districts. Grants totaling just over $2.3 million were awarded to 175 grant recipients. The number of eligible counties for 2017 has expanded to 1,331.

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Why must a district be nominated by a farmer before the district can apply?
The Monsanto Fund is committed to helping farmers strengthen their communities, and farmers have told us they believe providing top-quality education to students in their local communities is absolutely vital. Farmers play important leadership roles in their communities, including serving on local school boards, which give them unique insights into their local communities and education needs in rural America.

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How do farmers find out about the program?
This program will be promoted to farmers through local radio and newspapers, direct mail, online, social media and with personal outreach to help build awareness of the opportunity. We encourage your district to also reach out to local farmers directly to invite them to nominate your district. We’ve supplied promotional materials to help school districts spread the word at www.GrowRuralEducation.com.

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Who can nominate a public school district?
Farmers who live or farm in an eligible county can nominate a public school district. Visit www.GrowRuralEducation.com for a list of eligible counties. No purchase is necessary to nominate a school district, and the farmer does not have to be a Monsanto Company customer. Farmers must be at least 21 years of age and be actively engaged in farming with a minimum of 250 acres of corn and/or soybeans and/or cotton; and/or 40 acres of open field vegetables; or at least 10 acres of tomatoes, peppers and/or cucumbers grown in protected culture; and must meet all the criteria as specified in the Official Rules.

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How does a farmer nominate a public school district?
The nomination process is simple. Eligible farmers fill out a short nomination form at www.GrowRuralEducation.com or by calling 1-877-267-3332. A paper copy of the nomination form and rules can be printed at www.GrowRuralEducation.com or requested by mail at 1-877-267-3332. Completed forms can be mailed to America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, Sales Support Center, 622 Emerson Road, Suite 150, St. Louis, MO 63141-9586. Mailed farmer nominations must be postmarked by April 1, 2017.

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What is the time frame for farmer nominations?
Farmers can nominate school districts January 1 through April 1, 2017.

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Does it matter how many farmers nominate a school district?
At least one farmer in your community must nominate your school district to make it eligible to apply for a grant. Farmer nominations are an important element in the evaluation of the grant applications, but not the only one. The more farmers who nominate a school district, the more it demonstrates community support and, therefore, can strengthen the district’s application. However, school districts must also submit a worthy grant application that will compete with applications from other school districts within the designated CRD, state or region. Grant review and winner selection will be done by two separate panels – a team of math and science teachers from ineligible counties will review all applications and select finalists, and the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council will review finalists and select winners.

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Will school districts know which farmers nominated their school district?
A list of farmer nominations will be supplied on the welcome page when your school district logs in to the online grant application system. We encourage you to thank these farmers for taking the time to nominate your school district. If you do not see the list of farmer nominations on your welcome page, please notify us at AFGREQuestions@Monsanto.com so that we can update your account.

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Can individual schools apply for the grants?
No. This program provides funding through school districts only, and only one application per school district is accepted. The district can decide which specific schools, grades or groups of teachers to target with the program for which they are applying. Multiple applications from one school district will disqualify the school district.

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Are private or independent schools eligible to apply for this program?
No. Though we recognize that all schools look for opportunities to improve educational opportunities for their students, this grant program is focused only on rural public school districts, serving kindergarten through 12th grade.

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Are charter schools eligible for this program?
A charter school district is eligible if it is a public school district and the district’s NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) ID is located within an eligible county. If the charter school district’s NCES ID location is outside of the eligible 1,331 counties, it cannot compete in the program even though it may have schools within the eligible counties. This also applies to public school districts that cross county lines.

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Which states are eligible to apply for this program?
There are 1,331 counties eligible in 41 states. These counties were selected based on crop parameters from the January 2016 USDA report. Farmers must reside in eligible counties where a minimum of 30,000 acres of corn and/or soybeans and/or cotton and/ or vegetables are planted each year. Every state with an eligible county is included in the program.

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How much money will be awarded?
The Monsanto Fund will award grants in the amounts of either $10,000 or $25,000, for an expected total of $2.3 million awarded to eligible rural public school districts.

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What is the deadline for grant applications?
All school district grant applications must be submitted by April 15, 2017, at 11:59:59 p.m. Central time.

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Where can I find a preview of the Grow Rural Education grant application?
Please click here to preview the Grow Rural Education grant application. An invitation code is not necessary to preview the application: https://www.cybergrants.com/monsantofund/preview/AFGRE.htm

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When does a school district receive its invitation code?
Once a farmer nominates a school district, the district will receive a postcard and an email notifying them of their eligibility to apply. The invitation code will be included on the postcard.

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Is there someone I can talk to about my proposal?
Yes. The Monsanto Fund is hosting three one-hour conference calls to give grant seekers an opportunity to have their questions answered. We encourage new and prospective grantees to participate. All participants should preview the application and frequently asked questions on this site prior to the call. You will need to register prior to joining one of the calls. The link to register for one of the conference calls will be posted at the beginning of the 2017 program. Once you register, you will receive the dial-in number and the Conference ID Number, which you will need for the call. It is suggested that you call 15 minutes in advance of the scheduled start time to avoid long wait times for check-in. Once you have joined the call, please identify yourself by giving your first and last names, organization, city and state.

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education
Information Sessions

  • Monday, February 20, 2017
    2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Central Time
  • Thursday, March 9, 2017
    8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Central Time
  • Thursday, April 6, 2017
    3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Central Time

You can also email your program-related questions to AFGREQuestions@Monsanto.com. Application questions will be answered within two business days. We strongly encourage you to review the application and ask program-related questions well in advance of the deadline.

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What do I do if I have a technical issue?
Click on the Need Support button located on the bottom of each application page to contact Technical Support.

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Is the online application the only way to apply for the grant? 
Yes. School districts can only apply through the online grant application system.

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When do I use my invitation code?
You must use your invitation code to register for the Grow Rural Education online system and every time you log in to the system.

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I accidentally submitted my application. Can I retrieve my application after I have submitted it? 
Click on Need Support to receive assistance.

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What is “character count”?
Character count includes all spaces and text in your response. For the grant application system, 500 characters equal approximately 90 words, or four lines of text.

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How will the school districts’ applications be evaluated?
School districts that submit an application for a $10,000 grant will compete against other school districts that are located in its Crop Reporting District (CRD). CRDs with five or fewer eligible districts will compete against each other. School districts that submit an application for a $25,000 grant will compete against school districts that are located in its state or designated region. States with fewer than 75 eligible rural school districts will compete in a region. Visit www.GrowRuralEducation.com for a list of regions. Grants will be judged based on merit, need and community support. A team of approximately 20 math and science teachers from ineligible school districts will read and score all applications. The top-scoring applications from each CRD and from each state/region will be finalists and will be brought forward for final review and scoring. The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council, a group of up to 30 farmers from across the country, will read and score the applications of the finalists and will select the winning grant applications.

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When and how should we expect to hear if we will be receiving a grant?
We will notify school districts via email about funding decisions in early August, 2017.

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If we are not selected, will Monsanto Fund provide feedback on our application?
We encourage you to join one of our information session conference calls to understand our process and what we are seeking to fund. Due to the expected high number of applications and the small size of the Monsanto Fund team, we regret that we will not be able to provide personalized feedback to applicants that do not receive a grant. However, we plan to host a conference call after the winners are announced in August, 2017 to address the most commonly seen issues and questions.

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Can we apply for this program again next year, even if we receive a grant this time?
Yes. If a school district has complied with the grant requirements and if a farmer nominates the school district in 2017, it is eligible to apply for another America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant.

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If my school district was nominated during a prior year’s program, does the school district have to be nominated again by farmers in 2017?
Yes. School districts need to be nominated by farmers each year to be able to apply. After the school district is nominated, you will receive a new invitation code to access the updated application. If you registered with the Cybergrants online grant application system during a previous year, you will need to use your original username and password. If you don’t recall your username or password, please contact Technical Support by clicking on the Need Support button located on the bottom of each page.

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Can our school district apply for a grant in both the $10,000 grant and the $25,000 grant programs?
No. School districts can only apply for funding from one of the two grant levels. School districts that submit an application for a $10,000 grant will compete against other school districts that are located in its CRD. CRDs with five or fewer eligible schools will compete against each other. School districts that submit an application for a $25,000 grant will compete against schools that are located in its state or designated region. States with fewer than 75 eligible rural school districts will compete in a region. Visit www.GrowRuralEducation.com for a list of states and regions.

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What types of projects are eligible at the $10,000 grant level versus the $25,000 grant level?
The types of projects are essentially the same for both grant levels, and both must enhance education in the areas of math and/or science in the next school year. An example of a $10,000 grant could include enrichment activities such as academic competitions and science fairs. For the $25,000 grant, the Monsanto Fund encourages the school district to submit projects that have a broader and more long-term impact on the school district population and a plan to sustain the project at the conclusion of the grant.

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What types of projects are typically funded?
The program funds many different types of projects focused on math and/or science every year. We encourage school districts to write grant applications that will fund projects that meet the individual needs of the district for its students. The range of projects funded each year is broad and examples include, but aren’t limited to starting or renovating greenhouses or school gardens, creating makerspaces, purchasing technology for math or science classrooms, and updating science lab equipment.

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Can our school district apply for a grant over $25,000?
No. The upper limit of the grant program is $25,000. Your proposed activity or program may cost more than $25,000, and, if so, you can describe the full cost of it but need to specify the portion that you would like to have funded by the Monsanto Fund.

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Can our school district apply under more than one category – e.g., Curriculum Improvement and Professional Development for Teachers?
Yes. Applicants may have a program that covers more than one of the category options, and, if so, the school district may select more than one category when applying. This does not mean that applicants should apply for two separate programs, one in each category; it should be one program with multiple components that accomplish two of the categories – e.g., a professional development program that includes an innovative use of technology. Also, the total dollar amount of the grant will remain the same – either $10,000 or $25,000, depending on the program selected.

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Can we apply for programming that enhances all areas of education, or must it be solely focused on science or math?
Although there are needs in many areas of education, this program is focused solely on improving teaching and learning in science and/or math. We encourage programs that make connections between the disciplines of math and science and/or are multidisciplinary within math or science.

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In terms of the scope of project, is there a number of students or teachers you’d like to see served?
No. There is no minimum number of students or teachers who must be served by a program. Please be as accurate as possible in your estimation of the number of students and/or teachers who will be impacted or involved in the program. Grant reviewers will look at the quality of the program being proposed, and understand that sometimes the best programs serve fewer people at a more concentrated level.

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Must the program we are applying for be a new program, or can it be an existing program?
You can apply for either a new program OR an existing program. If it is an existing program, please describe current successes as well as how you were able to fund the program in the past and why you need funding from the Monsanto Fund for the program at this time.

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Will Monsanto grants cover overhead costs?
Yes. Up to 10% of the requested grant amount can be used for overhead costs.

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Can funds be used for staff salaries?
Yes. If additional staff members (part-time special instructors, trainers, etc.) are needed to deliver the proposed program, the Monsanto Fund grant can be used to pay for those salaries. It is not intended to cover already budgeted salaries of existing teachers and staff.

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What is the timeline to use the grant funds?
America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grants awarded during the 2017 program should be expended during the 2017-2018 school year.

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Will funding decisions be based on the financial need of the district or strictly on the merit of the proposed program?
Decisions will be based on a combination of financial need in the district, the merit of the proposed program and community support demonstrated by farmer nominations.

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What do you mean by “Amount of funds raised for school district over and above government/tax-based funding?” Doesn’t that only apply to private schools?
This question is meant to help us understand if the district, or individual schools in the district, are raising additional funds beyond the government funding they receive, such as money raised by a Parent Teacher Association, civic groups, events, sales of items in the community and/or donations from local businesses, etc.

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If our district does not have an agricultural education program, are we still eligible to apply?
Yes. The existence of agricultural education programs is just one of the many things we would like to understand about your school district. Not having a program does not make a school district ineligible.

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What are the special reporting requirements?
Grant recipients will be asked to fill out a short interim report due April 1, 2018, and a longer report once the school year is complete (due October 1, 2018).

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