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USDA announces funding to black colleges promoting jobs and business growth



WASHINGTON, - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 15 historically African-American land-grant educational institutions in 14 states to receive $1.5 million in economic development and business promotion grants.

"These funds help provide entrepreneurship training and benefits to rural youth," Vilsack said. "President Obama believes our nation's economic competitiveness and the path to the American dream depend on providing every student with an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy. Using these funds, students will learn to take advantage of existing economic development opportunities in their communities - such as renewable energy resources - as well as the vast business knowledge and connections that these schools and their faculty members have."

The grants, provided through USDA Rural Development, will help create businesses, promote cooperatives and provide jobs. The recipients are among the 18 institutions supported under the Second Morrill Act of 1890, a law providing for the establishment of land-grant institutions focusing on agriculture, home economics and the mechanic arts.

West Virginia State University, in Institute, W.Va., plans to use part of its $100,000 award to help the West Virginia Biofuels Farmers Cooperative collect used cooking oil and refine it into renewable energy. It also will work with an economic development agency in Webster County to provide office space, shipping equipment and publicity for about 15 start-up businesses.

The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff will receive $115,000 to implement a rural entrepreneurial collaborative between cooperatives and businesses in the Delta region of the state. The University will support community-based efforts such as the Rural Life Conference, which involves more than two dozen organizations working on economic development strategies, education and training for rural residents.

In 2008, Langston University, in Langston, Okla., used a $100,000 USDA Rural Development grant to conduct a rural business retreat for youth. The retreat featured an age-appropriate curriculum to teach 10th-12th graders about potential entrepreneurship opportunities associated with wind energy, biofuels and hydro power. The program was developed in collaboration with professionals in climatology and civil engineering.

Funding of recipients announced today is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the cooperative agreement. The following is a complete list of the 1890 institutions receiving USDA Rural Development awards:


Alabama A&M University - $115,000

Tuskegee University - $100,000


University of Arkansas Pine Bluff - $115,000


Delaware State University - $115,000


Florida A&M University - $114,681


Fort Valley State University - $100,000


Southern University and A&M College - $100,000


University of Maryland Eastern Shore - $100,000


Alcorn State University - $100,000

North Carolina:

North Carolina A&T State University - $115,000


Langston University - $113,894

South Carolina:

South Carolina State University - $100,100


Tennessee State University - $75,000


Prairie View A&M University - $35,958

West Virginia:

West Virginia State University - $100,000

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

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