In 2016, 37 TCUs have Land Grant status and share funds from an Endowment. Since 1994, the TCUS have formed a professional networking organization titled FALCONS. FALCONS is organized and lead by TCU Land Grant staff. The networking meeting allows face-to-face communication, problem solving, and discussion between TCU Presidents and/or Land Grant Program Managers to consider USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Endowment funds and how this Endowment and relationship can best serve the TCUs.
Beginning in early 1990s, a nearly two-year campaign by the tribal college presidents and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) was brought to a successful outcome in October 1994, when Congress passed legislation granting them land grant status. In November, the board of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (now Association of Public and Land-grant Universities), which had strongly endorsed the campaign, voted to admit AIHEC as a system member of the association with one representative as a member of the organization’s Council of Presidents. In January 1995, AIHEC became the Association’s newest member.
Land Grant status was conferred on 29 Native American colleges in 1994 as a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act. The colleges were to receive interest payments from the endowment each year. Annual endowment funds vary from year to year and college to college, as the amount is based on enrollment and the number of accredited TCUs maintaining Land Grant designation with USDA. The designation and Endowment provides the TCUs to competitively apply for other USDA/NIFA funds (Extension, TCU Research Programs, Education/Equity, as well as other US government programs .
The 1862 institutions (State Land Grant Universities; i.e. NDSU, SDSU, MSU, etc.) were initially required to cooperate with the tribal colleges in setting up joint agricultural and food related extension programs focused on the needs of the Native American institutions, as identified by the tribal colleges. That requirement does not continue, but 1862 Land Grant Universities are frequently asked by 1994 Land Grant Program managers to serve as partners in programs relating to food, human nutrition, farming, agriculture or food system research, horticulture, community development, Family Consumer Science or Animal Husbandry.