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USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workforce Training and Health Care Opportunities in Rural Communities

Jessica Bowser
Release Date

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is awarding grants for 128 projects to increase access to job training (PDF, 351 KB), educational and health care services in rural areas.

“USDA is partnering with educational and health care institutions that can help provide innovative opportunities for rural residents,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Lynne Hinrichsen.”  “The Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants announced today will help make available the same educational opportunities for rural Kansas students as their urban peers have access to.”

USDA is awarding $39.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.

Below are summaries of USDA’s investments in Kansas:

  • Washburn University is being awarded $349,213 to help provide resources to enable two-way interactive distance learning via video teleconferencing technology. The technology will help develop workplace skills that are increasingly needed in the modern, technical work environment. The resources provided through this investment will enable rural students across Kansas to obtain these skills. Additionally, this investment will be used to recruit and retain health care workers for rural communities. More than 3,700 students will have access to the educational opportunities provided with this project, including students in a high school in the Lawrence-Gardener Juvenile Corrections Center.


  • Burlington Unified School District #244 is being awarded $106,282 to help Coffey County develop a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) distance learning project to provide STEM curricula to 17 sites in the Kansas communities of Burlington, Gridley, Lebo, LeRoy and New Strawn. The sites include schools and the Coffey County Hospital. More than 8,600 residents will have access to STEM college and career readiness curricula, enrichment courses and teacher professional development courses. This project will help better prepare Coffey County students to transition to post-secondary learning institutions. It also will help foster local economic development by attracting outside businesses and industries to a highly-trained local population of workers.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB).

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/ks.