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USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workforce Training and Heath Care Opportunities in Rural Illinois

Patience Hayes
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.

“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 $1.2 million to rural Illinois, through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 79,000 residents will benefit from the funding.

Below are summaries of some of USDA’s investments in rural Illinois:

  • Altamont Community School Unit 10 District is being awarded $122,923 to help attain the ability to leverage educational opportunities through the implementation of interactive distance learning technology at two (2) Hub sites and six (6) rural school-system end-user sites located in seven (7) counties in Illinois. The project administrators, via the Rural Illinois Shared Education (RISE) Network, will provide enhanced Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-geared courses, dual credit/advanced placement, professional development, workforce educational courses, career/vocational courses, and community-wide health education classes. This project has potential to reach up to 22,101 residents.
  • Freeport Regional Health Care Foundation is being awarded $328,215 to help purchase
    telecommunication equipment to provide telemedicine resources to connect six rural hubs with 10 rural end user facilities serving 18,301 rural residents in northern Illinois. The end result will be increased access to medical specialists, reduction in 30 day hospital readmission rates and minimization of the impact of acute illnesses through patient education and monitoring. This project will dramatically reduce the distances patients travel to receive specialty healthcare, saving time and the patient's healthcare dollars. In addition, Freeport Healthcare will implement an opioid treatment program that will give the rural mental health and counseling resources access to the most relevant substance misuse treatment available.

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.