SAE Grants: 5 must-know tips to free money

It happens a lot.

An FFA member comes to you with an awesome idea for a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program. You nod enthusiastically and “wow” at all the right times, but then you ask the one question that can become the ultimate killjoy:

“How are you going to fund it?”

Your answer? Tell them about SAE Grants.

Every year, the National FFA Organization hands out thousands of dollars through the SAE Grants program. The program is open to current FFA members in grades 7-11 (seniors are not eligible) who want to start or expand their SAE programs.

Rebecca Carter, an education specialist for FFA and a former agriculture teacher from Virginia, knows that FFA advisors, like all teachers, have whirlwind days. Things can easily slip through the cracks, including deadlines for upcoming programs and grants. But when it comes to funding SAEs, it’s a no-brainer to keep on top of free money.

“Within the three-circle model, the SAE component can get overlooked, oftentimes due to lack of funds. The SAE Grant program offers a simple way for students to get direct financial assistance for their SAE,” Carter said.

Here are five things FFA advisors need to know about the grants:

  1. There are two types of SAE Grants. The first type is a career pathway grant. The second is a sponsored grant. Sponsored grants are oftentimes funded by companies that outline specific grant requirements. If a member is applying for a sponsored grant, these requirements need to be addressed in their application. Keep in mind that a member can apply for both types of grants, but they are only be eligible to receive one grant.

    This year, FFA is fortunate to have sponsored grants provided by the following sponsors: Horizon Organic; Keystone Steel & Wire-Red Brand; Milwaukee Tool; National Onion Association; Novartis Animal Health US Inc.; Organic Valley/Cropp Coop; Triscuit; and Trouw Nutrition USA.
  2. FFA members have an excellent shot of getting a grant. In 2011 only 420 FFA members applied. Eighty-nine career pathway and 52 sponsored grants were awarded for a total of 141 $1,000 grants.
  3. Once you’ve encouraged a member to apply, make sure that when they fill out the application that they clearly identify their financial need and how they will incorporate the funds into their new or existing SAE plan.
  4. Once a student is declared a grant recipient, they will be required to sign and submit a contract prior to receiving the funds. This contract states that the grant recipient will use the funds appropriately and complete all documentation in order to receive the funds, which are directly mailed to the FFA member for direct impact.

    Upon completion of the contract and use of the grant money, the recipient will submit a follow-up report on how the funds were used. This report will identify and explain the status of the project, success stories, challenges, project sustainability and use of funds.
  5. FFA members can apply every year, regardless if they’ve won before, as long as they meet the age requirement.

Applications for the 2013 program will be posted Sept. 4. The deadline to apply is Nov. 15. The application can be sent via email to SAEGrants@ffa.org, but the signature sheet must be mailed to the National FFA Organization in Indianapolis.

For more information, contact Rebecca Carter, rcarter@ffa.org.