Contact: Thonnia Lee, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
Tuskegee, Ala. – Today, Tuskegee announced it had received a $1 million endowment from Clif Bar & Company, The funds will support the advancement of organic agriculture and farming practices through the University’s College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences (CAENS).
With this investment, Tuskegee University becomes the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to receive a Clif Bar endowment and is the fifth recipient in the company’s $10 million program to support organic research at land grant universities. This endowment is also being matched by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), a non-profit organization that builds public-private partnerships to fund research addressing challenges in food and agriculture, doubling the gift to $2 million.
“This endowment creates opportunities for Tuskegee students to have an active role in our research and development with certified organic farmers in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, President of Tuskegee University. “We are also honored to be selected as the first HBCU to receive a Clif Bar endowment. This shows our work in agriculture and farming has made a lasting impact and now has an extended reach. For this, we are grateful.”
“We are excited about the impact of our Organic Agriculture Program,” said Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller, dean of the Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences. “This gift will go a long way in supporting our efforts as we strive to become an epicenter in the southeast. The future of the Tuskegee University Organic Agriculture Program is brighter than ever, and the team looks forward to having an even greater impact on organic agriculture research and education as it moves to establish an Organic Agriculture Institute at Tuskegee University with support from Clif Bar, FFAR and other stakeholders.”
Over the last three decades, Black land-grant universities have trailed predominantly white counterparts by at least $12.8 billion in funding. The growth of organic farming has also lacked regional and racial diversity. According to the latest U.S. Census of Agriculture, of the 30,909 certified organic farmers in the U.S., only 0.5% are Black-owned.
With this endowment, Clif Bar, in partnership with FFAR, aims to increase equity in organic farming by supporting the work of plant and soil science professors and researchers, Dr. Joe K. Kpomblekou and Dr. Franklin Quarcoo, whose partnership with the company was announced on Nov. 14 at the annual Agriculture Workers Conference in Montgomery, AL.
“Investing in an organic and equitable future for U.S. farming and agriculture is imperative to advancing our food systems and ensuring broader access to organic food for all,” said Dr. Kpomblekou. “We are grateful to Clif Bar for their industry leadership and commitment to organic research and education, which will ultimately benefit not just Tuskegee University but inspire more Black leaders in organic farming.”
“Organic farming research can assist producers in implementing sustainable soil health management practices, increase resilience to climate change and strengthen our food systems,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, FFAR scientific program director and Tuskegee alumna. “FFAR is proud to partner with Clif Bar to maximize investment in the advancement of organic agriculture and support equity in farming through this endowment to Tuskegee University.”
Founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee has a long history of innovation in agriculture, including the contributions of George Washington Carver, who worked at the University most of his adult life and is known for his work on soil chemistry and crop rotation, and his commitment to support Southern Black farmers. Today, the University has a center for Plant Biotechnology Research which is training scientists from around the world and has one of the first centers funded by NASA to develop a technology for growing food in space during human space missions.
Clif Bar has been a champion for the planet since its founding 30 years ago, which includes a longtime commitment to sustainable agriculture practices including organic, having purchased more than 1.4 billion tons of organic ingredients since 2003.“At Clif, our purpose is to redesign the business of food for the benefit of health, equity and Earth, and supporting Tuskegee’s work to make organic more accessible and equitable is a meaningful way to deliver on that promise,” said Senior Vice President of Impact & Communications at Clif Bar & Company, Roma McCaig. “We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and are proud to support Tuskegee's work that will help create a more inclusive future for organic farming."
About Clif Bar & Company
For 30 years, Clif Bar & Company has crafted nutritious and organic food for CLIF®, CLIF Kid®, and LUNA® brands. Through its Five Aspirations, Clif Bar is committed to sustaining its people, community, planet, brands, and business. For more information, please visit www.clifbar.com, check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
About the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.