Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is awarding grants for 128 projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas.
“Empowering rural Americans with access to services for quality of life and economic development is critical to rural prosperity,” Secretary Perdue said. “Distance learning and telemedicine technology bridges the gap that often exists between rural communities and essential education, workforce training and health care resources.”
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.
Chris Beeker, state director for USDA Rural Development in Alabama, shared details about the project awarded in Lowndes County.
The Lowndes County School District is receiving a $489,081 grant to help them update and expand interactive video classrooms and replace end-of-life equipment. The project will serve three school districts and sixteen end-user sites by creating a network of course and program offerings that will serve students and teachers. By leveraging programs already going on in these communities these virtual connections will increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics proficiencies by 30 percent, increase enrollment of dual credit courses by 30 percent and expand professional development for staff by 25 percent. The project will serve 5,285 students and more than 350 teachers and adults.
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. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic.
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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.