USDA Provides Funding to Increase Access to Educational and Health Care Services in Rural Areas
Grants Will Also Support Opioid Treatment
Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is awarding grants for broadband projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas in 35 states.
“Broadband technology helps provide career opportunities and deliver critical medical services to rural residents,” Hazlett said. “It allows rural hospitals to better diagnose and treat patients. It helps treat people who are struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders. It also helps bring jobs to rural areas.”
USDA is awarding 72 grants totaling $23.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. This program funds equipment that uses broadband to help rural communities connect to advanced learning and specialized medical services.
The grants are supporting projects in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Several recipients will use the grants to help address two of the nation’s most urgent needs: opioid abuse treatment and mental health counseling.
Oklahoma Rural Development State Director, Dr. Lee Denney, received notice that five Oklahoma projects will receive funding through this announcement:
Northwestern Oklahoma State University will be awarded a $231,983 grant.These DLT funds will help purchase video conferencing equipment to provide interactive distance learning services. The project will benefit two hubs and five end-user sites in seven communities by providing video conferencing equipment. The University will provide college courses and professional development at partner high schools, provide remote access to continuing medical education at Cimarron Memorial Hospital, expand academic offerings at Panhandle State University, and provide distance learning to Crabtree Correctional Facility for college courses and degree programs to better prepare inmates for work after release.
Stroud Independent School District 54 will be awarded a $499,805 DLT grant to purchase video conferencing equipment to provide interactive distance learning services. The project will provide servers, video conferencing units and software to allow the schools to share teachers, content, and resources to support expanded course offerings, including college-level courses to 16 end-user sites in Bristow, Boswell, Davenport, Depew and Stroud
YCO Tulsa is being awarded a $459,675 grant.These DLT grant funds will help YCO Tulsa purchase video conferencing equipment to provide mental health services to youth in Oklahoma City. The project will benefit three hubs and 21 end-user sites in 13 communities. YCO recognizes there is a shortage of mental health providers and a great need for solutions to address this rising problem. Telemedicine has been proven to be an effective approach and strategy to address mental health in rural areas where provider access is limited.This grant will help provide computer servers, video conferencing units and software for telepsychiatry, medication monitoring, group and individual therapy, including drug counseling, and other counseling and community outreach services to youth and their families.
Clinton Independent School District 99 will receive a $470,383 grant.The DLT grant will help Clinton Independent School District 99 purchase equipment to connect schools to the Support Oklahoma through Advancing our Reach (SOAR) distance learning program. The Clinton Public Schools central office will be connected to 12 rural schools in Custer, McCurtain and Beckham counties. The project will provide students and teachers with an expanded selection of course content providers, curricula, training and resources.
Hennessey School District 16 will receive a $266,419 grant.The DLT grant will help Hennessey School District 16 in Oklahoma improve its distance learning program by replacing aging video conferencing equipment and technology. Two hub sites in Oklahoma City will connect to eight end-user sites in schools in Hennessey, New Cordell and Pond Creek. The distance learning program will have state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment. The program will focus on connecting schools to enable course sharing so all of the sites served will have access to a complete array of curricula.
“Working to invest federal taxpayer dollars in rural Oklahoma projects is the primary responsibility of my new position with USDA,” said Denney. “The grants that Oklahoma is receiving today will serve to extend the reach to share the services of these vital Oklahoma institutions. I commend the recipients on their hard work to submit quality applications to this highly-competitive program. Their commitment to serving the people of rural Oklahoma is evident.”
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.