Clif Bar & Company has announced a $1 million endowment to Tuskegee University to 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 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 total gift to Tuskegee University to $2 million.
Over the last three decades, research capabilities at the nation’s Black land-grant universities have been underfunded by at least $12.8 billion, compared to their predominantly white counterparts. 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. This endowment 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 work was highlighted 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 advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion and are proud to support Tuskegee's work that will help create a more inclusive future for organic farming."