AIHEC Land Grant Initiative

The term “land grant” defines a set of colleges and universities that Congress has designated as having a formal relationship with the Federal government through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and with a mandate to provide practical education in the agricultural and mechanical arts. Congress first bestowed land grant status to one educational institution per state under the initial land grant legislation, the First Morrill Act of 1862. Under the terms of that Act, grants of land were given to institutions to fund their operations, so that is where the term “land grant” originated.

After much hard work by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) were given Congressional land grant status under the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994. These land grant TCUs are collectively known as the “1994 land grant institutions,” or “1994 institutions,” or simply, “the 1994s.”

In summary, the land grant system was created with the goal of providing practical education to all peoples of various races and social classes. It has become a powerful and diverse collection of colleges and universities with a Congressional mandate and a formal relationship with the federal government through USDA. The 1994s are the most recent members of the land grant system, and their funding provides support for teaching, extension and research activities.

AIHEC’s Land Grant Initiative focuses on supporting TCUs through the following programs:

  1. USDA-OASDFR and NAAF: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) and Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF)

AIHEC’s Growing Native American Agriculture outreach program engages Tribal College & Universities staff and students to improve Native American farmers, ranchers and community food producers’ adoption of effective agricultural practices. Collaboration with the AmeriCorps VISTA program builds program capacity by using VISTA volunteers with guidance and support from USDA field offices and land grant partners.

  1. FALCON: First Americans Land-Grant Consortium1

FALCON is a non-profit, professional association, sanctioned by motion of the AIHEC Board of Directors, that represents administrators, faculty and staff at 1994 Land-Grant Institutions (Tribal Colleges and Universities).