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

Stephen White
Release Date

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. Tennessee Rural Development State Director Jim Tracy is pleased to announce that Volunteer State Community College will receive funds to further broaden its educational curriculum and capabilities.

   “We are pleased to assist Volunteer State Community College in improving its educational opportunities,” Tracy said. “Investments such as this one, significantly advance the quality of education made available to its students, specifically those in technology and healthcare.”

   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 is the summary of the investment in Tennessee:

  • Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, will use its $102,000 grant to install innovative distance learning audio/video conferencing equipment (Zoom Rooms) in rural high schools located in six designated Appalachian counties and one exceptionally rural county in upper middle Tennessee. This project will deliver Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curricula to one of the college's satellite campuses, and six high schools, benefiting students and residents in proximity of the sites. This investment will positively impact seven end-user counties and one hub county. Students will be able to earn credits by taking accredited course work applicable towards degrees or certifications in the areas of technology and healthcare careers. This project will serve 4,379 students and a potential of 46,771 residents in the service area.

    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). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

   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.