Tractor Supply Company offers FFA ‘Grants for Growing’

By: 
KYLE RAPKOCH
Special to the Outlook
Courtesy photo.  Members of the Fromberg FFA put together backpacks for students in the area who may need additional food after school and on weekends. The group won a $500 grant from Tractor Supply Co. last year for the project.

As Future Farmers of America prepares for the 2017 FFA week, local businesses have already launched programs to collaborate with local chapters to help raise funds. This year marks the second year of Tractor Supply Company’s “Grants for Growing” program in which local FFA chapters can apply to receive grants for new or existing agricultural projects. The Fromberg chapter was awarded a grant last year.
FFA week begins on Feb. 17 this year, and all week long TSC will be selling $1 paper emblems at the register to help raise funds for FFA chapters nationwide. During the launch of this program last year, TSC raised more than $700,000 and awarded 374 grants, and they hope to bring even more money in this year.
FFA chapters are encouraged to spend time at the nearby TSC retailer to help raise funds. Doing so increases chances of winning a grant. Bonus points may also be granted for advertising the event through social media, posters, print or broadcast.
Often FFA members host bake sales or petting zoos, or help TSC customers by carrying items to their vehicles. Chapters can also set up a booth to tell people about Future Farmers of America and to promote agriculture.
To get credit for helping TSC with this program and earn bonus points, a chapter simply needs to fill out the fulfillment form between Feb. 27 and March 3, the week immediately following FFA week. Any chapter can apply for a grant even if there isn’t a TSC store nearby. Grant applications are due by the Feb. 13, just before FFA week begins.
This is a competitive grant program, and grants are awarded based on the caliber of the project as well as the project’s ability to grow and be sustained. The minimum grant amount is $500, and there is no cap on the amount that chapters may request.
Last year’s local winner was the Fromberg FFA chapter for their project “Backpack.” Project “Backpack” is designed to help feed families in need by providing backpacks full of healthy foods for after school and on weekends. This is the third year in a row that the FFA members in Fromberg have been filling backpacks with nutritional food for families, and last year they received a $500 grant for their efforts.
The Fromberg FFA is advised by Jennifer Birrer. She said members work year ‘round to help the community. This year, the chapter plans to apply for another grant for project “Backpack,” and their engagement with the TSC retailer in Laurel could help their chances of receiving the grant two years running.
Other Montana schools that received grants last year include Belgrade High School for their “Farm to School” project and Twin Bridges High School for their “School Farm/Community Garden.”
All chapters are on an even playing field as the grants are up for grabs again this year. Many chapters have found success in seeking grants for school garden projects because they are easily sustainable year after year, one of the main criteria for being awarded a grant.
All money donated in Montana TSC stores will go to Montana FFA chapters. Donors can be assured donations will help local agriculture projects.
To apply for a grant or to find more information and additional ideas on how to get involved with “Grants for Growing,” visit https://www.ffa.org/grantsforgrowing.​

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